Guru Chris Aceto discussed the field of bodybuilders expected to compete at the upcoming 2023 Arnold Classic (March 2-5, Columbus, Ohio). In a recent video, Aceto explained why he initially underestimated Nick Walker’s potential in the IFBB Pro League.
With decades of experience, Chris Aceto has helped shape some of the most influential figures in the sport. He’s trained many athletes including four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, former two-time champ Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay, as well as the late Shawn Rhoden and Cedric McMillan.
One athlete who has continued to cross Aceto’s path is Nick Walker. The 28-year-old quickly developed a following as a Men’s Open pro. Having claimed gold at the New York Pro and 2021 Arnold Classic, Walker finished his rookie year in fifth place at the annual Mr. Olympia contest.
Last December, Walker competed against a stacked lineup in Las Vegas at 2022 Olympia. While he wasn’t able to win a Sandow in his sophomore attempt, Walker improved to third place and was honored with the Olympia People’s Champ Award. After making a surprise entry, Aceto discussed Walker’s potential and chances of success at the 2023 Arnold Classic.
Chris Aceto: ‘Underestimated’ Nick Walker Will Be ‘Hard to Beat’ at 2023 Arnold Classic
According to Aceto, he underestimated Nick Waker from the moment he met him at the 2017 North American Championships. He added that Walker’s long arms made his torso look ‘off.’
“It’s so funny. I’ve underestimated Nick Walker from the second I saw him. I remember seeing him at the North Americas. I thought, ‘what a big ugly physique’. Even before he turned pro, I think the year before he might have placed in the top five and then I just mentally, he didn’t register with me on my radar. Then the next year he won and I thought had had a Fred Flintstone physique.
Long arms. His arms are too long and his legs were too short and his torso was too off. Like Fred Flintstone has a long torso but Fred Flintstone is pretty big. But Fred Flintstone is big, he’s usually bigger than the other guys. I know exactly I was wrong about him. Then he did the Chicago Pro and he got fourth but they lined him up to be like sixth. I think they moved him up at the night show, and he was really hard.” Aceto shared.
Judging from Walker’s 2022 Olympia performance, Aceto predicts he’ll be more dangerous in Ohio at the 2023 Arnold Classic.
“He [Nick Walker] brought a much thicker and better version of last year’s Olympia. Just a lot more balance. A lot more size to the quads, size to hamstrings, much-needed size to the back.
Both in terms of width and thickness all while keeping a good midsection. He was really good at the Olympia, and I would expect him to be based on me being wrong all the time, that he’s even better at this Arnold. I would say he’s got to be considered very hard to beat,” says Chris Aceto.
Jumping into the AC contest on short notice might be a mistake for some, but Chris Aceto believes it was a good move for Nick Walker because he keeps his body fat percentage low following contests.
“He jumped into the show late… and for a lot of people that would be a bad idea but for him, it might be a good idea because his body fat is always low. He doesn’t have to do a lot of work to get that of,” Aceto shared. “You know you might get two new frontrunners and maybe not based on the results here.”
In addition to Walker, Andrew Jacked, Patrick Moore, and Big Ramy jumped into the 2023 AC after the prize money for the Men’s Open winner soared to a record $300,000. To prepare for the competition, 2022 Olympia 8th place finisher Andrew Jacked made some changes to his coaching staff. He will now work with Rhoden’s former trainers Chris Aceto and Chis ‘Psycho’ Lewis.
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Some bodybuilding veterans like Jay Cutler have said that Nick Walker will win his second AC title as long as he doesn’t run into Big Ramy at ‘100%.’ As for Aceto, he predicts Walker’s conditioning and hardness will be difficult for any competitor to overcome in five weeks.