Written by Kai Greene
09 February 2017


Bodybuilding Success

"Doesn't Happen Overnight" Says Kai Greene



I started competing in the early 90s in local shows around the New York area and I progressed to finally win my pro card by taking the heavyweight and overall titles at the 2004 NPC Team Universe Championships. In my first two years as a pro, 2005 and 2006, I didn't do terribly well. In those two years my best results were 14th at the 2005 New York Pro and the same placing at the 2006 Colorado Championships. The big breakthrough for me came in 2007.


In May of 2007 I entered the New York Pro. I was one of last competitors to walk out and do my mandatories. I do remember when my name was announced there was no reaction from the audience, but then when I walked out the audience and the press pit started buzzing as they could see the definite improvement. This wasn’t the guy from 2006. I was twenty pounds heavier and ripped. I finished sixth but a lot of people told me I should have been higher. The next week I entered the Keystone Pro and got third and then I won the Colorado Pro Championships – my first pro victory. Against that storyline I’m often asked why the big breakthrough in 2007. Why didn’t it happen earlier when I was an amateur or in my first two years as a pro.



I began competing as a teenager and from the get-go it was very clear in my mind that I wanted to progress to becoming a pro bodybuilder. I was programmed in many ways to graduate and come up through the ranks and maybe even eventually start winning pro shows. So the 2007 package I unveiled was very much to do with staying on track for all those years and keeping that ambition alive. We live in a day and age were, with all these new classes being launched, someone can train for less than a year do a couple of shows and suddenly they earn a pro card. My journey was much more gradual – and dare I say more inspirational – than that.


 Yes in that pivotal year of 2007 my physique changed and there was a lot of talk – and you know what that revolved around -- about how I’d done it. Many bodybuilders go through a dramatic growth spurt when ambition in tandem with increased knowledge of what makes your body respond best kicks in. Look at the Dorian Yates who appeared at the 1993 Olympia. He won in 1992 but he came to that Olympia 15 pounds heavier and just blew everybody away. His progress was an amalgam of an almost scientific approach to training and that animal instinct he took to the gym each and every workout.


Dorian’s journey and mine are examples of having to pay your dues. I don't mean political dues. The dues I’m talking about is that journey of learning and maturing so that you become capable of demonstrating a mastery of your skill set.


So those first two years as a pro were part of that maturing process. I knew what steps I had to take to improve my placings. From the beginning I took my bodybuilding very seriously, but in order to move away from those 14th placings I had to make a larger commitment than I had been capable of during those earlier years. At the back end of 2006 I made a lot of changes that combined gave me an almost mathematical certainty to improve. I started to make giant strides on my journey toward becoming the athlete I wanted to become.



Before you can become the best that you can be you have to go through all those different stages of evolution to get there. As your physique changes – improves – you have to soak up the experience of how you moved from one stage to the next. You have to analyze, educate yourself and figure out what works and what doesn’t, how your body reacts – or doesn’t react – to certain disciplines.


Even though my progress to the pros was maybe slower than some others I never lost sight or became disenchanted with my dream of being a professional bodybuilder. It was a decade long journey of trial and error as I formulated my ever changing plan of action. I think the biggest reason for my 2007 transformation was that I went back to the drawing board, was totally honest with myself as to what I needed to do and how I needed to do it. And then, and this is the key, committing myself to doing it. You know people make grandiose statements like “Go Big or Go Home” on social media or wear T-shirts with a slogan like “You Can Be All That You Want To Be”. But making a statement or wearing a T-shirt won't take you to where you want to be. To accomplish your dreams you have to get in the trenches be honest and commit yourself 100% to a strategic plan.


If my journey teaches anybody anything it underscores that before you get to be the best that you can be you have to traverse all the twists and turns and setbacks of your journey. In short you must never give up, you must keep prevailing and never lose faith that you will achieve your ambition. With that formula in place you can make your dreams reality.






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