Bodybuilding legend Kenneth ‘Flex’ Wheeler still keeps up with the Men’s Open division in retirement. In a recent Olympia TV interview, Wheeler discussed Samson Dauda’s 2023 Arnold Classic victory and the importance of posing endurance.
While leading his IFBB Pro League career, Wheeler reached incredible heights, including four Arnold Classic titles and several runner-up appearances at the Mr. Olympia contest. As a pro, Wheeler’s deep muscle separation and beautiful structure gave him an advantage over many of his peers. However, for most of his career, he struggled to keep up with the domineering size of Ronnie Coleman.
Wheeler has been dealing with several health problems post-bodybuilding. Years ago, he was forced to have his right leg partially amputated following surgery complications. In 2022, Wheeler also detailed life-threatening issues with his kidneys and said they were starting to show signs of failure.
Celebrating his bodybuilding contributions, Wheeler was honored with the 2023 Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award in Columbus, Ohio. At the gathering, Arnold Schwarzenegger told Wheeler he was one of the greatest champions of all time. Taking a break from his usual routine, Wheeler took a closer look at the power of posing and the recent Arnold Classic results.
Flex Wheeler: “I Had Samson Winning from the Time he Walked on Stage”
Wheeler agreed with Samson Dauda winning the Arnold Classic despite some in the industry describing the outcome as controversial.
“Yeah, I agree with you Terrick and I agree with you Bob. It’s exactly what you said Bob, it doesn’t have to do solely with the coach, it has to do with them listening and actually having the tools to make that happen. It’s a teamwork, it’s an effort right.
I had Samson winning from the time he walked on stage. We were talking about this before the show, if Samson came in shape, it’s a done deal. Man, I didn’t know he was weighing damn near 300 pounds, I just knew he was full as a house. He actually highlighted some of the guys’ weaknesses. As great as Andrew’s potential is, he [Samson] severely highlighted some of his weaknesses. He highlighted his back being weaker, he highlighted his legs being weaker, then he took it upon him to be in better condition,” shared Flex Wheeler.
Even though Wheeler thought Andrew’s package was better than the Arnold Classic UK, he credited Samson’s muscle mass and conditioning as more impressive.
“Yeah, I thought Andrew was a better balance at the Arnold Classic than over in England. That look probably would have matched him to be second place but again, man, Samson just has a beautiful physique like Andrew, but he carries more muscle and he out conditioned him.”
Wheeler doubts Walker would have won in Ohio with a stronger upper body.
“If Nick had a stronger lower body, I question you or I question people that say that. Are you saying that if he did, he would beat Samson?” Wheeler asked. “I’m not saying you are, I’m just saying what difference does it make, would it change the outcome?”
Wheeler Shares Posing Lesson from Lee Labrada: ‘You Have to Spend More Time Posing Than Training’
Having competed against Lee Labrada in 1993, Wheeler asked him how to hold poses longer without getting tired.
“I remember in 93 competing with Lee Labrada on stage and I was literally hiding behind Robby Robinson because I was exhausted. I was kneeling down, hiding behind Robby, he’s staring at Lee Labrada, and I asked him, I said, ‘how does he do that,’ and he’s tough, ‘what do you mean Flex,’ he goes, ‘I don’t know go ask him.’ I go, ‘how do you do that,’ and he goes, ‘how do I do what Flex,’ I go, ‘how do you hold the poses, you never get tired you don’t breathe in between,’ – he goes, ‘You practice Flex.’ I’m like, ‘huh,’ he’s like, ‘you know how you go to the gym and spend all the time training, well you have to spend more time posing than training. That was the era back then. That’s where we came from,” shared Flex Wheeler.
Overall, Wheeler believes posing routines should be specific to body types.
“Just because a pose looks good on you, doesn’t mean it’s going to look good on other people. You have to have that body type. Like we were talking before, when you have a physique that’s extremely muscular, you don’t come out and do all these poses, like la-la, like I do, you come out and you do these beastly poses, like Bob said, I want to see you do a hundred most musculars. It has to fit with your body.”
“For Samson, I don’t know, because his legs are so powerful. I think the way he hits it [front double biceps], maybe he should twist it a tiny bit,” added Wheeler. “We all emulate from people before us, right, I didn’t learn anything, I stole something from everybody I looked at before me. We just emulate it, change it, and make it our own.”
As with any highly contested bodybuilding show, some in the community took issue with the outcome. Samir Bannout was confused by Dauda’s perfect scorecard at the 2023 Arnold Classic. Earlier this week, he spoke on the contest again and suggested Nick Walker’s conditioning ‘should have’ been enough to earn gold.
RELATED: 57-yo Flex Wheeler Inspires With Leg Press Workout Using Prosthetic Leg
Nick Walker and Samson Dauda will have another opportunity to face each other in Orlando, Florida at November’s Mr. Olympia. Given his expertise, Wheeler believes competitors should set aside more time for posing practice.
Watch the full video below:
Catch full coverage of the 2023 Arnold Classic, including pre-judging, event recaps, analysis, and final and full results at our Arnold Classic coverage hub: FitnessVolt.com/arnold-classic
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