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FLEX ONLINEBTHE REAl DEALon the arnoldclassiceing runner-up is a good thing.It is the silver medal, folks. But trytelling that to Chris Cormier andyou’ll be sorry you ever opened your mouth.He has stacked up six “close, but no cigar”awards at the Arnold Classic over a brilliant 15-year pro career (surely a record),making him a bona fide expert. We put thatexpertise to good use when he stopped bythe Weider offices to break down the topplayers in the big spring classic. We lockedCormier in a room with an array of recentcontest pictures of each competitor so hecould examine them in detail, comparingthem pose for pose as he put them throughhis own grueling prejudging. Cormier, nostranger to criticism throughout his career,got real on all their strengths and weaknesses and put them in the order he feltthey would finish. Here is what he saidabout each man: what he liked, didn’t like,what they need to do to win and everythingelse — as only Cormier can tell it.Chris Cormierbreaks down thetop players“Gustavo needs to be big and hard, but he runs into problems with his midsection when he comes in too heavy.But when he drops weight, his legs are as straight as logs. He needs to find the best of both worlds.6”— On Gustavo Badell’s lower body and midsectionGUSTAVO BADELL5'8"245 poundsArnold Classic Track Record: 2008, 6th; 2007,4th; 2006, 4th; 2005, 3rd; 2004, 7thHe Got Gamen Powerful, thickly muscledn Achieves impressive hardnessNot Feeling ItPHOTOS: (TOP CENTER) KEVIN HORTONn Lack of crisp detailsn Legs are downn Body looks a little tiredBy CHRIS CORMIERas told toDAVE LEE Deputy EditorFLEX MAR. ’09PHOTOgraphy BYPAVEL YTHJALLand AMINA CRUZFor RealHis skin is just too thick — especially in the backdouble biceps. Makes it look fatty. It’s a tough dealand, believe me, I know because I have the sameproblem. It’s murderous when you need everything topop and it doesn’t work out. Down in the glute/hamarea, all that needs to be blistering. On the top twoor three guys, it’s all dug out; and if you ain’t dug out,you ain’t digging in! He’s going up against geneticallysuperior guys, so he’s gotta be in top, top form toplace respectably. If he doesn’t, in a show this loaded,it’s gonna be curtains.FLEXonline.com

FLEX The Real Deal On The Arnold Classic5BRANCH WARRENSILVIO SAMUELArnold Classic Track Record: 2008, 4th; 2007,Arnold Classic Track Record: 2008, 5th; 2007, 6thHe Got Game5'7"245 pounds7th; 2006, 2ndHe Got Gamen Explosive, Dorian Yates-type musclen Very thick from the siden Ability to get hardNot Feeling Itn Separation isn’t one of his strengthsn Arms are short for his body, making doublebiceps weakFor RealBranch has that Mike Francois look: big and hard.I was never too worried about homeboy becausehe couldn’t deal with my separation, and Branchwill have the same problem with this crew. It’shard to appreciate his physique unless he’s in top,top form, so he needs to be “on” to hang with thelikes of these guys. If he’s a shade off, he’ll getlost in the shuffle. Everything has to jump. Theskin has to be diced and paper thin — and I domean totally thinned out and peeled — if he planson making a splash.“4”I always believed that the frame is the best thing you canhave in bodybuilding; the actual frame and the outlinethat you’ll build on. Is torso length proportional to limblength? Is the length of the upper leg proportional to thelength of the lower leg? All these things come into play.— On Kai Greene’s structural flawsKAI GREENE5'8"255 poundsArnold Classic Track Record: 2008, 3rdHe Got Gamen Tons of expressive, separated, striated musclen Legs: anytime he highlights the developmentof those wheels, he wins pointsNot Feeling Itn Structural flawsn Comes in too heavyFor RealKai’s short torso gives him a squatty look. Let’sface it, he’s never gonna have a crazy V taper. He’smore of a bullfrog. That’s why he does all thosefunny twists and turns with his ab shots and headon poses. At his height, he’s better off refining whathe has and coming in with excellent conditioningrather than playing the size game. Remember,homey, too much of a good thing isn’t good.FLEX MAR. ’095'7"220 poundsn His muscle bellies have muscle belliesn Comes in with great conditionNot Feeling Itn Lat width and fullnessn Biceps need peakFor RealMy man’s conditioning has been excellent. He’s on iteach day, whether it’s offseason or precontest. Withthat type of work ethic, he’ll be in shape 99% of thetime. Being a student of the sport, he’s come a long wayfrom when we first met. Definitely maturing, thoughstill not where he wants to be. He’s a lot smarter thanpeople think and he’s on the right path, but he’ll almosthave to pull a Dexter to bang with the big boys: dominate everyone from his size and down, and wait for hischance to get in the door. Just keep coming and coming, and bring it each time. He’s in the same groupingas Toney. Third is a very real possibility.23TONEY FREEMAN6'2"290 poundsArnold Classic Track Record: 2008, 7th; 2007,3rd; 2006, 9th; 2005, 10thHe Got Gamen Has heightn Clavicle widthn Great total package when he’s “on”Not Feeling Itn Sometimes shows up with a swimmer’s physiquen Lacks impact from the siden Conditioning always a question markFor RealWhen Toney’s on, it means he’s in a good mentalstate. He was a little stressed last year — financiallyand personally — which showed in his placings. He’salmost like a chameleon; he’ll show you three or fourdifferent physiques all in one month! He’s a bit shallow from the side, which is common with X-framephysiques, because there’s a tendency to thin outthrough the middle back and chest (the narrow guystotally pop from this angle). He could push for a topthree spot, if he’s relaxed and filled out. At the sametime, I’m having a hard time putting him in with theyounger dudes. Although he’s hungry to prove thatyou can still hang in your 40s, he’s not bringing thosefull, separated, dancing muscle bellies. It’s hard toget that same pop with age.FLEXonline.com

FLEX The Real Deal On The Arnold Classic1VICTOR MARTINEZ5'9"250 poundsArnold Classic Track Record:2007, 1st; 2006, 3rd; 2005, 7th;2002, 13thHe Got Gamen Back double bicepsn Physique is always powerful dueto big, rounded muscle belliesNot Feeling Itn Structural flaws in legsn Conditioning not consistentFor RealAt his best, Victor’s dangerous inany show he enters. I’m not a hugefan of his teardrops, but it doesn’tmatter now like it did back in theday (I tell guys not to worry aboutcalves, either, seeing as how nobodyeven looks at them anymore). Victor’s genetics allow him to look bigeven when he’s small (if that makessense). But he has to be in shape.Victor out of shape is a pussycatnext to Victor in shape. He hasgreat potential to be Mr. Olympiaand he knows it. Don’t bet on theinjury being a factor.”— On Victor Martinez’s return to competitionPHOTOS: KEVIN HORTON“Victor’s got to make a big statement here. If he’s on, he’ll be too much to handle for anyone in this lineup.He can regain momentum and head into the Olympia as one of the favorites.FLEX MAR. ’09

FLEX The Real Deal On The Arnold ClassicBUMPin’ and thumpin’KEY MATCHUPSSamuelTHIRDMartinezVictor’s got a high-impact physique. He commands your attention onstage.Toney’s shape and size keep him in the fight.Silvio’s the most conditioned, but he’s being outmuscled here.SECONDWarrenGreeneToney’s the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch — and the biggest.Branch is thick, but he looks blocky next to the other two.This is a strong pose for Kai, but his structural flaws come into question, too.BadellSilvio’s superior structure and shape keep him ahead of his larger opponents.Kai’s wheels and overall detail hold off Gustavo’s thickness.Jay won the show, but he didn’thave the best physique onstage.”— On why Jay Cutler did not makeCormier’s Arnold Fantasy LeagueFINAL PLACINGSFreemanFLEX MAR. ’09“SamuelPHOTOS: (TOP LEFT) KEVIN HORTONFirstFreemanGreene6. Gustavo BadellWhat can I say? This is a tough lineup.5. Branch WarrenGreat muscle, but lacks the aesthetics toplace higher in this lineup.4. Kai GreeneSuperior details keep him one step aheadof Branch.3. Silvio SamuelHe’ll bring condition, but he’s structurallytoo small to overtake a much larger andin-shape Toney.2. Toney FreemanLooked great at the Olympia and with theextra pocket change he picked up, he’s gotto be feeling good, which means he shouldbe on.1. Victor MartinezFeeling hungry after the injury. I expectbig things from him this year. With Dexteras the new Mr. Olympia and Obama as thenew president, look for Victor to dosomething really special this year.Arnold ClassicFantasy League5. Kevin LevroneHad potential to do more than he did;there was a time when he could have beenMr. Olympia. On tour, he dominates becausehe knows how to win. He’s a master of thesport who will forever be respected as oneof the best.4. Vince TaylorThat routine! A smooth cat, like an R&B singer.3. Ronnie ColemanThe best I’ve ever seen Coleman was when wewent head-to-head. We weighed the same(249) and although I felt I had him on a fewposes, he crushed me from the back. If I had togive style points, I’d give myself an eight andRonnie a 10, with his big butt and all thosestriations (I didn’t have that G-string madnessgoing on).2. Shawn RayA classic prototype bodybuilder. A totalprofessional, from the way he carried himselfto his posing, mastering the diet and training,and even skin care. He put it all together.1. Flex WheelerNot in 2002! In 1993, he was unreal. He onlyweighed 219 pounds, but ain’t nobody evermatched that.FLEXonline.com

FLEX The Real Deal On The Arnold ClassicAt the time Cormier was in our office,PHIL HEATHCormier schoolsExecutive Editor AllanDonnelly on the finepoints of judgingphysiques.by all indications Phil Heath and Dennis Wolf weregoing to enter the Arnold Classic. Of course, a coupleof weeks later, we got the news that both were out — Heath,so that he could focus on the Olympia; and Wolf, so that hecould recover from hernia surgery and be healthy for theOlympia. Had they entered, there’s no doubt that it wouldhave been sweet: two of the sport’s most promising athletesin a rematch months after their first meeting at the Olympia.Throw them back in the mix and it’s a totally different show —one we’d love to see so much that we’re gonna bring it to youanyway. Cormier, never shy of letting anybody know exactlywhat he thinks, dropped his two cents on these young stars,The Gift and The Wolf, and what could have been.5'9"220 poundsArnold Classic Track Record:2008, 2nd; 2007, 5thHe Got Gamen Maximum separationn Every muscle developed to its fullpotentialn Improves with each contestNot Feeling Itn Narrow claviclesn Back double biceps not quite there yetFor RealWith his narrow structure, Phil needs tobring it every time. Homeboy’s youngand happy, so I don’t see motivationbeing a problem. One thing: he has to becareful of packing on too much muscle.With a physique like his, he runs the riskof losing aesthetic quality. Even thoughhis clavicles are weak, you’re distractedfrom it by his belly upon belly of muscle.He’s got it going on in the conditioningdepartment, too; look at all thatcraziness in the quads, hams and glutes.He didn’t look like this when everyonecalled him The Gift, but he’s earned itnow. The last Olympia solidified hispotential. Nobody can honestly say thathe can’t be Mr. Olympia. Maybe next yearor the year after, but he’s definitely inline for that top spot. With a physiquelike that, he’s pushing one and two. He’sgonna be one of the greats.WHAT COULD HAVE BEENDENNIS WOLF5'11"270 poundsArnold Classic Track Record: DebutHe Got Gamen Has potentialn Conditioning is usually onn Wide claviclesNot Feeling Itn Has a long torson Rear lat spread is down to an all-time lowFor RealI’ve never been sold on Wolf. I see tremendous potential, butsomehow, he’s going about it the wrong way. After the 2007Olympia, he should have had the world at his feet. Didn’thappen. He’s got the patented German crab, but that’s aboutit. The man’s legs — there’s nothing in them. That’s lack oftraining right there. If you put in the time, your legs won’t bestraight up and down like that. Basically, that’s what he needs:more time. You don’t need to be Mr. Olympia after one or twoshows. It’s a great campaign scheme, but if he doesn’t bodyslam these dudes now, he’ll just be a lot of hype that neverwas. Dropping to fourth, fifth or sixth — that’s something hedoes not want. Once that happens, it’s tough to dig yourselfout of the hole. Maybe they put too much pressure on himafter he won the 2007 Keystone Pro. One show under your beltdoes not make you Mr. Olympia material. He’s missing theboat and I don’t know if it’s the training or whatever, but that’snot a championship physique.““I see tons of improvement from the Arnold to the Olympia, and he’s got room for more. It all depends on Hany[Rambod]. Can Hany bring him in right on the money again? People were looking for him to prove himself andhe leapfrogged over a lot of dudes to do it.— On Phil Heath’s meteoric rise”I don’t see any improvement. I’ve always been skeptical, because in some shots he looks like a mediocrebodybuilder with the potential to look good down the line, and then in other poses, he looks like top twoor three material for the Olympia. I can’t see him winning this show. I can’t see him getting second either.At best — and I’m talking 100% — I don’t even see him in third.— On Dennis WolfFLEX MAR. ’09”FLEXonline.com

FLEX The Real Deal On The Arnold ClassicMATCHUPS I WANT TO SEEFirstHeath and MartinezThe former champ and thehottest rising star in the sport.SECONDFreeman and WolfTwo X-frames together —let’s see who’s the man.6 Kai Greene5 Silvio Samuel4 Dennis Wolf3 Toney Freeman2 Victor Martinez1 Phil Heath FlexFLEX MAR. ’09PHOTOS: (TOP AND MIDDLE, SECOND FROM LEFT): KEVIN HORTONFANTASY FINALPLACINGS