Before Flex Lewis began his reign atop the Olympia 212 division, Kevin English ruled as “the King” of bodybuilding’s lighter weight division. The Long Island native was a three-time Mr. Olympia 202 winner, dominating from 2009 to 2011, along with winning four New York Pro titles from 2009-2012.
Although he still sports a set of Olympia-quality arms, English is no longer competing. Now as a trainer and coach at the world-famous East Coast Mecca, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym in Syosset, NY, English, 47, shares his bodybuilding knowledge with bodybuilding’s next generation of stars looking to add mass to their frames, as well as the rest of us looking to shed a few inches from our waists.
“As I evolve as a person, my reasons for training change as well. Today, I train first and foremost because it remains a passion of mine,” English says. “But these days, I can take my foot off the pedal. I don’t need to train as intense.
You may not need to train with Olympia-like intensity, but you can get a glimpse of one of the arm workouts the three-time Olympia champion uses in his routine below.
As a former Mr. Olympia, what types of sacrifices do bodybuilders need to make in order to make it to the stage?
I’m certain every bodybuilder has a different perspective on this. For me, it was that there was not one specific thing I needed to focus on. There were so many aspects of bodybuilding that you must attend to nearly year-round—getting proper rest each night, having to miss spending time with your family and friends, going to social events. You had to keep your nutrition spot on ALL THE TIME, and train like there’s no tomorrow. You could not afford to miss one day of training because there was no making up for it. A lot of people fail to realize that that can take a toll on an athlete mentally as well as physically.
How is your fitness philosophy evolved over the years?
To me, fitness is a marathon not a sprint. You need to look into making small changes over a period of time. Those changes will add up to great things down the road. This applies to my everyday life as well: One must break down the big goals into many smaller goals. Eventually, those big goals will be accomplished.
What’s the one mistake you see people constantly doing in the gym?
I’ve seen so many people performing any number of exercises incorrectly that I’ve lost count. The biggest mistake, however, that I feel can be fixed quite easily, is people move through an exercise way too quickly. You need to able to slow down the movement of each exercise. Instead of just swinging the weight, squeeze and contract the muscle so you can actually feel the muscle that should be engaged in that exercise.
What's one piece of equipment everyone should have?
I’d say a pair of light dumbbells—maybe even two sets. With dumbbells you’ll be able to work any body part. By going with lighter dumbbells, you can also modify the workout intensity by adjusting each movements in a way that feels more comfortable for you.
What’s the one exercise EVERYONE should be doing?
Without question, squats. Squats are essential for overall growth and development, especially for your legs, core, lower back, and glutes. More important, your entire day from getting out of the car to sitting on the toilet—depends on doing a squat.
What makes Powerhouse Gym the “East Coast Mecca”?
[Owners} Bev [Francis] and Steve [Weinberger] have established a worldwide enterprise that creates and breeds bodybuilding champions. What’s better is that Powerhouse is a place where it doesn’t matter what your fitness level is. Everyone who enters is welcome and treated like family. It’s been around for more than three decades. It has brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment as well pieces that have been here since its opening. There’s no better gym on the planet.
BLAST YOUR BICEPS LIKE MR. OLYMPIA
TIME: 30 minutes
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Barbell, dumbbells, bands
WHY THIS ROUTINE WORKS: “It’s nothing fancy, it’s just straight-up basics, and a proven formula for growth,” English says. “I have several biceps routines that I incorporate into my routine. This is one of my favorites.”
STANDING BARBELL CURL: 2 warmup sets / 3 working sets 10 to 12 reps
TIP: If you don’t have a bar at home, substitute with a resistance band.
SEATED PREACHER CURL: 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
TIP: Use negative resistance on the eccentric part (lowering) of the curl.
SEATED CONCENTRATION CURL: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
STANDING HAMMER CURL: 3 sets of 12 reps
TIP: Instead of performing alternate curls, curl both at the same time.
To stay updated with Kevin, follow him on social media.
by Jeff Tomko