There’s an old saying in the fight game that a fighter isn’t a champion just by winning the belt. It’s only when he defends his title that he becomes the true champion. Climbing the mountain is one thing. Proving you can hold that top spot is completely different. “That is exactly how I felt,” says two-time Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique champion Jeremy Buendia, who clinched his second consecutive Mr. O title in September. “I knew I was a champ when I won in 2014, but this validated my title. I won the first time, but I needed to prove to myself that I deserved it. It was a big relief to prove that I was worthy of the title again.” The IFBB has had dynasties across all of its divisions. Ronnie Coleman won eight Sandows in a row, Adela Garcia dominated Fitness for a decade, even Bikini’s Ashley Kaltwasser is on a nice run of three consecutive titles. A two-time winner in Men’s Physique is a game-changer, though. The young division has struggled with defining its standards and rewarding a consistent look. Buendia’s success now gives judges and other competitors a reference. His best-in-class conditioning, mature muscle mass, and broad shoulders tapering into a dramatically tight waist (“I barely fit in men’s boardshorts,” he says,) Buendia’s body has become the template for the modern Physique competitor.
Profession:Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique Champion
Favorite clean meal: Filet mignon and sweet potato
Favorite cheat meal: Cheeseburger and fries
Drives: 2015 BMW M4
Listens to: Hip-hop
Last book read: Heaven Is For Real
Favorite movie: Training Day
Sponsors:Evogen Nutrition, Live Fit Apparel
Mike Carlson: You looked supremely confident onstage at the Mr. Olympia this year. Did you feel as confident as you looked?
Jeremy Buendia: No, I knew it was going to be a dogfight. Jason Poston [third place] is a good friend of mine. We trained together two days out. I knew he was on the money. I saw some pictures of Steve Cook on Instagram and he looked good. I looked my best ever a couple days out, and I knew I was going to get better as we got closer to the show. Sadik [Hadzovic] kept his shirt on backstage, but when he took it off he looked a little watery in his lower back. When I saw that, I knew I had it.
MC: What did you do better this year than last year?
JB: I nailed my routine this year. I felt like the way I posed was flawless. I was three or four pounds heavier this year, and I was definitely tighter. From what I saw backstage, I was the most conditioned guy onstage. I was hard, and I kept getting harder as I was onstage. I was getting better the longer I was up there.
MC: You were only 23 when you won your first Mr. Olympia. How many years do you think you have in you?
JB: I don’t see myself getting beat for a while. These are the best physiques in the world. I beat these guys by a pretty significant number of points, and I don’t see many guys walking around looking better than Jason Poston or Ryan Terry. If I am better than those guys, I don’t think I am going to get touched for a while.
MC: What is it like to be the reigning Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique champion?
JB: Having a fanbase all over the world is awesome. No one knew me two years ago, and now when I walk into an international airport overseas someone will know who I am. It is pretty incredible to step foot into Kuwait and hear someone call your name. It’s a big responsibility too. It has forced me to grow up a lot. It feels like all eyes are on me, like everybody is watching my every move. I have to make sure my actions represent the sport well.
MC: Give me an example of how you have had to grow up?
JB: Before, I didn’t have 300,000 followers. You can see on Phil Heath’s Twitter, when you are the champion people will tear you apart on social media. Getting up every morning and seeing messages like that was kind of hard at first. But it comes with the territory. I had to grow up to handle those kinds of interactions and handle negative situations better.
MC: Tell me about your prep for the 2015 Mr. Olympia.
JB: Hany Rambod has been my coach for the past two years. He is in the Bay Area and I live in Murrieta [Southern California], so we do phone calls big time. I talk to Hany about three times a day. When I get up in the morning we’ll talk. We send pictures back and forth. We have a very close personal relationship. That helps out a lot.
MC: Do you use FST-7?
JB: I use FST-7 [see below] during my whole prep. The whole idea is to optimize the pump, optimize cellular volumization throughout the workout. You want to stretch that fascia and force the blood in there.
MC: FST-7 can be a tough workout, right?
JB: Absolutely. I see FST-7 as a very mental style. You need a very good connection between your mind and muscles when you’re training. We aren’t pushing super heavy weight, and we aren’t doing low reps. We are using a moderate weight in the 10- to 12-rep range, but the whole idea is to concentrate on that point A to point B to optimize growth. FST-7 might not be as beneficial for a beginner as compared to someone who has trained longer and has that mind-muscle connection.
MC: What kind of training split do you follow?
JB: I do a five-day split of chest, back, legs, arms, and shoulders. I train every day and just cycle through that five-day split. If my body is beat up, I will take a day off, but that might be once a month. I do 25 to 30 sets per bodypart, with high volume and minimal rest between sets. Hany always wants me to rest longer, but I like to bang it out. I don’t like going slow. I like to slay it. That is just what works for me.
MC: How do you approach your diet?
JB: My diet gets determined every morning when I wake up. I call Hany and we look at how my body responded to the previous day and we adjust accordingly. I eat clean. I eat chicken, fish, and a lot of red meat. Sweet potatoes are the only starchy carb I take in. I don’t get sick of them. I get a cheat meal every couple weeks, and I get a re-feed meal every five days or so. A re-feed is just more clean food. I’ll up my red meat and my starchy carbs. I’ll usually do it on a day I train a weaker body part, so I can overnourish that muscle and get everything out of it.
MC: What’s an average day for you?
JB: First thing in the morning I throw on my shoes and go do fasted cardio for about 40 minutes. I train a little bit of abs and then I come home and eat breakfast. That’s when I take my pictures and send them to Hany. I usually get two to or three more meals in, and then go back and train. Then I will see my massage therapist or my chiropractor. The rest of the day is spent prepping: preparing food and tanning, stuff like that. The day ends around eight o’clock. I watch a little TV and then go to bed early so I can get up and do my cardio.
MC: How do you keep from over-training?
JB: I make sure each body part gets plenty of rest. I wont do triceps after chest day, and I won’t do biceps after back. I take a couple days and make sure the muscles are fresh. Also, I’m sponsored by Evogen Nutrition and we make top-of-the-line products. We use the highest-quality BCAAs on the market. I take glutamine and BCAAs three times a day, and I’m eating good, so my recovery time is next to nothing and my endurance in the gym is awesome.
MC: You seem very detail oriented.
JB: There are probably 10,000 guys competing in Physique in the world, and they are all trying to take what I have. I have to do everything above and behind what they are doing to stay on top. It comes down to the little stuff like stretching daily, seeing a chiropractor. My body is everything I have right now, so I need to make sure everything is working together.
MC: It looks like your competitive season centers around the Mr. Olympia. You don’t expect to compete at the Arnold Sports Festival this year?
JB: It’s Hany’s decision, but more than likely he’ll have me sit out The Arnold again this year. I would like to do it, but it depends on the timing. It’s rough being right in the middle of the off-season.
MC: What are your off-season goals for 2016?
JB: I want to improve on my abs, for one. My obliques are on point, but I need to develop my middle abs better, or at least get better muscle control on my core. In a straight-on pose my abs get a little washed out. I want to improve that and make that a stronger pose for me. And may be add a little more shoulders.
MC: You make this kind of disciplined lifestyle look easy. Does it come easy to you?
JB: It’s not easy. It’s a job. Not everyone wants to get up and go to work every day, but we do it anyways. I am very blessed to be in the position I am at. I don’t ever take it for granted. I am very grateful. Is my life easy? I don’t know. I would say I have it good. IM
FST-7 and Furious
The popular hypertrophy training program FST-7 was created by Hany Rambod, a master trainer who has spent the last several years shepherding IFBB pros to championship performances, including Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Nicole Wilkins, and Jeremy Buendia.
FST-7 stands for Fascia Stretch Training, with the 7 indicating the number of sets that need to be performed for the all-important last exercise.
The idea behind FST-7 is to volumize the muscle so much that it stretches out the fascia (the thin but stubborn membrane that sheaths the muscle) allowing more room for growth while flooding the tissue with anabolic nutrients.
The basic program calls for three compound exercises for a bodypart, performed for three or four sets of eight to 12 reps. The coup de grâce is an isolation exercise performed for seven sets of 10 to 12 reps with just 30 to 45 seconds of rest between.
By the time you are done, the bodypart should be completely exhausted and pumped to a point of near explosion.
Advanced lifters, like Jeremy Buendia, will start and finish each bodypart with the signature seven-set strategy and may use a challenging free-weight exercise.
If you’re new to FST-7, use it only for your final set and perform that exercises on a machine rather than with a barbell or dumbbells.