IFBB Pro Kevin English Outlines Plans To Win 2009 Olympia 202-Pound Class!

Kevin wants to stake his claim as the best 202-pound Mr. Olympia. In the following interview he outlines his 2009 Olympia plans to win. Find out more.

202-pound frontrunner Kevin English prepares for an Olympian Battle: could he be next in line?

With the exponential growth of professional bodybuilding has come greater competitive opportunities for its athletes. At this year's Mr. Olympia - professional bodybuilding's premier event - the pro game's newest and most popular addition - the men's 202-pound class - will again feature the best of such competitors, in what has become a closely fought battle for the world's most prestigious 202-pound title.

With its increasing depth of competition and quality of competitor, the men's Olympia 202-pound class is becoming harder to judge with each passing year. One man closing in on the title, having narrowly lost to 202-pound king David Henry at the 2008 version, is Kevin English, a multiple New York Pro 202-pound class winner, and owner of probably the most massive physique ever seen in the division.

Known for reaching 280 pounds of quality grade-A beef in the off-season, the fact Kevin achieves 202 in contest condition is a miracle in itself.

How he does it, however, is really no mystery at all: dedication, discipline and strict adherence to pre-contest training and eating with the kind of sacrifice that would shame a Buddhist monk. When it is time to compete the rewards are evident: one of the best physiques in the world, regardless of weight.

Upon turning pro at the 1998 NPC Nationals, Kevin, a former high school wrestler who competed at 112 pounds, and who has always had an extremely fast metabolism, began charting his professional bodybuilding rise, which culminated in second place at the 2008 Mr. Olympia (202-pound class).

Now he would like to stake his claim as being the best in the world in this division. In the following interview he outlines how he will do this and why he will be the man to beat come September 24.

[ David Robson ] A very busy time of the year for you Kevin.

[ Kevin English ]

      Oh it definitely is, but very exciting.

[ DR ] You have established yourself as one of the top 202-pound bodybuilders in the world and, if all goes your way at this year's Olympia, you could be number one. What are you doing training and nutrition wise to ensure this happens?

[ KE ]

      For me it is more of a three-step process. One: everything begins with the

mental preparation

      . So mentally I'm just making sure I stay 100 percent focused. Making sure that regardless of how demanding the


      or training might be or how much I have to suffer with the diet, everything has to come into play.

      It doesn't matter if I feel tired or whatever it is. Right now I have four weeks to focus and win or 52 weeks to live with the wrong result before the next competition.

[ DR ] So for you, irrespective of training and nutrition, it all comes down to the focus you can apply to ensure these factors, as part of your overall plan, are executed properly.

[ KE ]

      Exactly. Because training and nutrition wise, there is no problem. I am training like a beast. Training comes very easy for me; I train like an animal. As far as nutrition goes I will do whatever it takes. My


      is very high and my




      are very low right now. I'm doing cardio twice a day. So, for me, mentally everything must come into play. I just have to mentally stay focused.

[ DR ] That is a really interesting point as many competitors tend to emphasize training and nutrition at the expense of staying focused and motivated, areas that, if neglected, can compromise everything else.

[ KE ]

      Exactly, and luckily for me I have a really good team behind me: a great nutritionist, a phenomenal


      and a great girlfriend. So I have the right support system. Having those extra eyes, because sometimes when you are dieting and getting closer to a show your eyes play tricks on you.

You want to have someone you can ask: am I too flat, am I big enough, do I need to be harder? So it's just good to have those extra eyes - the help of people who won't lie to you, who will tell you exactly how it is.

[ DR ] How much pressure is on you to go one better this year and win the 2009 202-pound Mr. Olympia division?

[ KE ]

      Honestly, for me, there's no pressure whatsoever. I feel really good and as long as I stay


      I won't be touched. I just don't think anyone is going to have my kind of size and symmetry and, as long as I nail my conditioning, I believe it is my show to win or lose.

[ DR ] Going into this year's event, David Henry is obviously the man to beat. What do you feel separates your from David in terms of overall physical development?

[ KE ]

      A lot of things: I am bigger than David, and I think I have better


      than David. As far as my x-factor - the x-fame - I have that too. That's pretty much it: just bigger with better symmetry. Conditioning-wise it will be pretty close.

[ DR ] Will you be considering other competitors potentially threatening your position or will you only focus on yourself as the Olympia approaches?

[ KE ]

      I honestly just focus on myself because you never know who is going to come in, and in what shape, on the day of the competition. You could have someone coming down from the open class to compete - as we may see in Atlantic City - you just never know. So the focus will be just on myself.

I feel I have made major improvements over the physique I had at the New York Pro, I will definitely be a lot tighter and much bigger than I was there. The show (the Olympia) will be down to myself mentally; I will just have to maintain my focus, which I am doing.

[ DR ] So do you feel that you will win the 2009 Mr. Olympia 202-pound division based on how you feel right now, should you, of course, come in dry and cut?

[ KE ]

      Yes I do, I believe that I will be far superior to everyone else on that day.

[ DR ] Is it true that you weigh as much as 280 pounds in the off-season?

[ KE ]

      Yes it is.

[ DR ] How difficult, then, is it for you to get down to 202 pounds to compete? How does this process work for you?

[ KE ]

      It was really difficult initially when I got ready to compete two years ago. At that point I was 270-275 (pounds) and my main focus was to compete in the open class at the New York Pro. But with the kind of diet I was doing - the ketogenic diet, with high protein and high fat - I ended up losing a lot of muscle.

      It was just a few weeks out from the contest and I was about 220. I figured since I had lost so much weight already I would try to suck down and compete in the 202-class. And that's what I did (Kevin won the

2008 New York Pro 202-pound class


This time around I didn't let myself get that heavy: I was around 240-245 in the off-season. But regardless if I am 280 or 245 it is still really difficult for me to suck down to compete in the 202-pound class.

[ DR ] Were you to compete in the open class would you compete around the 220 pound mark?

[ KE ]

      I believe I could probably compete in the same conditioning at around 220-225.

[ DR ] So for you to suck down to 202 everything needs to be on point.

[ KE ]


[ DR ] Clearly, competing in the 202-pound division gives you less competition, but competing in the open could be a good way to gauge yourself against more of the best competitors out there. Have you thought of exclusively competing in the open class?

[ KE ]

      Yes I have, but right now I'm just taking it one show at a time. Initially I would have loved to cross over this year to compete in the open class as well as the 202 - I thought I could have won the open class at the New York Pro as well, but obviously that didn't happen (Kevin won the 202-pound class at the 2009 New York Pro) - but this year the 202 is the best option as the open class is stacked.

      But as far as other open shows go for next year, after I have secured this win (the 2009 Olympia 202-pound class), I would like to compete in a few open shows, then I will decide what I will do as far as the (2010) Olympia open and 202 classes.

[ DR ] After weighing in at 202, how much do you usually weigh onstage at prejudging?

[ KE ]

      This time around I will probably be onstage after the weigh-in at somewhere between 208 and 210. My


      is so fast - if I don't eat food on a regular basis - like every two hours - I end up losing weight. So normally I'm a little bit lighter, like around 200 pounds onstage, after weighting in at 202. But this time, since I put so much more muscle on, and will have more time to eat before prejudging to fill up, I will be onstage at around 208 to 210.

[ DR ] Given your metabolism, in the off-season do you really need to pound down the calories to pack on the weight?

[ KE ]

      For me, as long as I


      heavy and hard my body pretty much grows like a weed and I have no problem putting on weight whatsoever. Usually, during the first three weeks after a contest, I will find it hard to add weight as my metabolism is so revved up, but after this point, after another three weeks, I will be walking around at about 260. I do gain weight very easily.

[ DR ] For you, adding so much weight over such a short period comes relatively naturally?

[ KE ]

      Yes. It's kind of weird because I wrestled my whole life - at

junior high school



      at 112 pounds and could not gain weight for anything. Once I hit my late 20s, and everything started kicking in, I began to put on muscle very quickly.

[ DR ] At what point did you transition from wrestling to bodybuilding?

[ KE ]

      As soon as I finished high school - I did bodybuilding from seventh grade on just to help me competitively with wrestling and, from that point, once I had finished with wrestling, I took it more seriously.

[ DR ] So at that point you knew you had the genetic potential to do well in bodybuilding, and you took the step.

[ KE ]

      Yes I did. My body responded really well to the weight training, but I was always just thin. I knew that if I could learn a little more about


      , I would be able to put some good muscle on.

[ DR ] What were some of the nutritional changes you made in your early years in order to pack on more muscle?

[ KE ]

      For me it was eating a cleaner diet. I just wanted to get big so I decided I would try to pack on the weight any way possible. I was eating a lot of fast foods - just garbage foods - and the weight I added wasn't quality muscle. Now, with my nutritionist Hany (Rambod), we are eating cleaner foods. For me it has been a lot of red meat.

My body also reacts well to a lot of carbohydrates, a lot of rice, pasta and potatoes. With this approach I'm able to pack on a lot of weight really quickly.

[ DR ] Who are your trainer and nutritionist and where do you train Kevin?

[ KE ]

      I train at the legendary East Coast Mecca, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym. My trainer is Dr. Michael Camp and my Nutritionist is Hany Rambod.

[ DR ] Is your approach to training consistent from one year to the next?

[ KE ]

      Yes it is.

[ DR ] Is your aim to get as strong as possible on the basic movements and to incorporate isolation work as a contest approaches?

[ KE ]

      For me, especially in the off-season, I focus on heavy compound movements for putting on size. I will do some shaping movements here and there, but I basically believe in lifting extremely heavy with good form, and that also goes for pre-contest.

I believe that if I start to go lighter then my muscles will get smaller because they will adapt to the smaller weights. But if I continue to lift heavy my muscles will stay full and round.

[ DR ] For you is there such a thing as changing the nature of your training program as the contest season begins?

[ KE ]

      Not one bit: I train all out, 100 percent.

[ DR ] As the contest date approaches you will then look to eliminate certain foods and tighten up your diet rather than manipulate training program variables?

[ KE ]

      Yes. One thing I do is cut back a lot on the condiments, on sauces and cheeses and things like that. I'll just eat slightly cleaner. And cut back on carbohydrates as well.

[ DR ] You mentioned earlier your lack of success on the so-called ketogenic diet. Why did this approach not work for you?

[ KE ]

      No it didn't work and I would never, ever do it again. I lost a dramatic amount of muscle on this diet. I believe if you have a slower metabolism, this diet will work well. But for someone with a quicker metabolism, like myself, I just don't see how it could. I just lost a lot of muscle. I did get shredded, but at the same time I was extremely flat.

[ DR ] To dial down to the 202-class, just how much muscle do you personally have to sacrifice?

[ KE ]

      Now that I'm starting to better learn how my body works a bit more, and my nutrition is better with knowing how my body functions with different foods, I don't really believe I lose much muscle at all.

Because I never lose any strength: it pretty much stays the same and I might even get stronger in certain areas because I'm consuming a lot more protein than I would in the off-season. It is all about staying strong but, at the same time, getting as ripped as possible. So my energy might be low, but strength-wise I'm pretty much the same.

[ DR ] You mentioned earlier the fact you will take one contest at a time but, in saying this, do you have a long-term bodybuilding goal that you are working towards?

[ KE ]

      I would love one day to make the top five at the Mr. Olympia. I don't see myself winning the Mr. Olympia; I just think my frame is too small for that. If you look at most Mr. Olympia winners they are much taller, except for

Dexter Jackson

      . I'm only 5' 4" and I think if I try to get too big they are going to say, "He has too much muscle for his frame."

[ DR ] We have seen Dexter, though, coming in at around 5' 6" and setting a modern day precedent for men of his size to step up and make their mark on the Olympia stage. Do you think that Dexter has perhaps set a new benchmark for pro bodybuilders, that his look is one that will be rewarded in future Olympia contests?

[ KE ]

      I would hope so, but it could be very hard to tell. Okay, you have Dexter who has a beautiful physique and

Phil Heath

      who also has a beautiful physique, but who is a little bit bigger and rounder than Dexter. Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum, you have someone like

Kai Greene

      , who is a behemoth.

Although Kai doesn't have the same kind of symmetry as Dexter or Phil, you can't deny him because he has packed on so much muscle at such a small height. And it's not only that he has packed so much muscle, it's that the muscle is so detailed.

[ DR ] Although you, yourself, have reached a point where your muscle size is very impressive, would you like to pack on further mass as your career progresses?

[ KE ]

      Oh definitely, without a doubt: that is the whole point of bodybuilding. I never want to be at a standstill. You see guys compete at a certain weight and they continue to stay at that weight at the pro level. That's not me. Once I stop making progress, then I think that's time for me to leave the sport.

[ DR ] Even if such progress comes in relatively small steps as we have seen with Dexter, who appears to have made incremental improvements over many years, which have culminated with his recent victory at the 2008 Olympia? Though you have said it is beyond your reach, could you win the Mr. Olympia with such an approach?

[ KE ]

      Definitely; without a doubt. If that happens, then that is great. But if I can just come in that top five spot maybe that would make me say, "Maybe it is a possibility that I could win the Mr. Olympia, or be in that top three." But just to come in that top five right now, I would be extremely happy.

[ DR ] Do you think you could ever reach a point where packing on too much muscle could ruin your balance and symmetry?

[ KE ]

      I do. And that's why I have to find a balance. I think that if I can keep the same kind of lines that I have and the same symmetry and to compete at somewhere around 215 and 230 then, on my frame, I think that'll look great. But anything more than that I think will look a little cartoonish, and I don't think they'll find that appropriate.

[ DR ] So if you were to compete at over the 250 mark, as you are in the off-season, then that would obviously be too large for your frame.

[ KE ]


[ DR ] You are known for guest posing at around 275 pounds. How does the crowd respond to this?

[ KE ]

      Oh it's pretty wild. Even when I'm in the 240s people look at me like, "What's going on here?" They can't believe that a person can pack so much muscle on a smaller frame. So it's pretty exciting guest posing. I love feeding off the crowd's energy.

[ DR ] I don't recall any other pro bodybuilder being 280 at 5' 4", in reasonable condition.

[ KE ]

      The only person I think got up to this kind of weight in the off-season, but was fatter, was

Lee Priest


[ DR ] You say there is no pressure for you going into the biggest bodybuilding contest in the world, the Mr. Olympia. But just how do you feel during the final two weeks before the show? Is there a sense of excitement in the anticipation of getting up onstage after many weeks of training and dieting?

[ KE ]

      I'm completely drained, completely sucked out. The whole day, every day, revolves around bodybuilding. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to


      . And it just repeats itself.

      I'll be doing cardio twice a day, between the posing, between the


      , between the working out, getting the eight to nine meals in: it's a lot. And I totally seclude myself from anyone and everyone. It's not time for my family members and my outside friends, but it's just something I have to do for myself. And to be the best you have to sacrifice.

[ DR ] So for you competing is about sacrificing and making the most of this period in your life? Later you can celebrate and enjoy the rewards of you efforts?

[ KE ]

      Yes, exactly. You know what? There will be plenty of time to hang out and enjoy those times after the show's done with. Right now the focus is 100 percent on the show.

[ DR ] Given that you have been competing at the elite level since 1996, do you ever get tired of the sacrifice necessary for success as a top ranked bodybuilder?

[ KE ]

      No. When I was younger things came really easy to me and I turned pro really quickly. At that point I didn't realize what it would take to be a top professional bodybuilder. Now that I do, I take nothing for granted and think it's a blessing that I have what I have. I believe God blessed me with a gift and I want to try to exploit that to the fullest.

[ DR ] Being the largest pro bodybuilding event in the world, what does the Mr. Olympia contest mean to you as a competitor?

[ KE ]

      For me, winning the 202-class means being the best in the world in that weight division. How many people can say they're the best in the world at anything? So, for me, it's not about the money or the fame: it's about getting that title and holding onto it.

[ DR ] For you the personal satisfaction that comes with doing your very best is most important?

[ KE ]

      Yes, and establishing a legacy for yourself.

[ DR ] And for your personal legacy you have mentioned winning the Mr. Olympia 202-pound class. Is there anything else that you would like to achieve before retiring as a pro bodybuilder?

[ KE ]

      Just to continue to do extremely well in the sport. I hope that I'm a positive role model for others. I always try to make myself approachable. People can either e-mail me or just pull me to the side and talk to me. I'm not a cocky or conceited guy. I hate it when other bodybuilder's do that because bodybuilding is such a small sport and, for us to make it bigger, I feel that us bodybuilders need to be able to communicate and be more outgoing with the fans.

[ DR ] If there were fewer negative attitudes, then bodybuilders would be more accessible and the sport of bodybuilding would grow and the public perception of both would be more positive.

[ KE ]

      Yes that's right. There are so many negative attitudes and I never wanted to have that chip on my shoulder.

[ DR ] Who would you like to give a shout out to?

[ KE ]

      I would like to give special thanks to the people who got me started in bodybuilding and believed in me since Day one:

Bev Francis

      and Steve Weinberger. Brothers and Best Friends Dr. Michael Camp and Shannon Egerton. Girlfriend and soul mate Erika Dobler for keeping my drive alive and walking through every step of life with me. Last but not least my cousin - BIG DUKE for keeping me

mentally focused


[ DR ] Thank you for this interview Kevin, it has been great talking with you.

[ KE ]

      No problem, thank you.