With nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers and a list of powerlifting accolades, Larry Wheels is easily one of the most recognizable figures in the fitness industry. However, if you only know him by his first name, you might be surprised at how different he looks compared to some of the photos from his powerlifting days.
Visibly leaner across the board, Wheels has clearly been working hard to prepare for the next phase of his bodybuilding journey. With his eyes fixed winning the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro card at the 2023 Amateur Olympia on November 1, 2023the 2018 NPC Gold Coast Muscle Classic Heavyweight division winner gave a glimpse of his chiseled frame in a chest workout vlog posted to his YouTube channel on October 25, 2023.
Joining forces with IFBB Pro Luis Sierra at Team Zero Gravity Fitness in Claremont, California, Wheels kicked off the session with a quick physique update. After pointing out that he weighed about 265 pounds (120.2 kg) the last time he competed in bodybuilding, Wheels said, “I’ve never been so addicted in my life.”
Currently tipping the scales at 240lbs (108.9kg), he needs to trim another eightlbs (3.6kg) off his large frame before taking the stage. But with the 2023 NPC/IFBB Pro League Ultimate Warriors competition taking place in Anaheim, California, just four days before the 2023 Amateur Olympia, Wheels didn’t want to risk injury by going too heavy during training.
However, he and Sierra, along with Team Zero Gravity founder and head coach Ryan Bentson, completed a series of four chest exercises that provided a fantastic pump. The workout starts at 2:45 of the video.
Plate chest press machine
Starting with a prototype TuffStuff Fitness chest press machine designed by Bentson, Wheels warmed up with a 45-pound (20.4 kg) plate per side. He pushed his leg further using a progressive overload method, adding another 45-pound plate per side for his second set.
Although Bentson noted that the machine can feel heavy quickly, that didn’t stop the trio from increasing the weight again. Gripping the handles so that his palms were facing in, Wheels had no problem completing a third set that included an additional 25 pounds (11.3 kg) on each side. Even when the team swapped the 25-pounder for a 45-pound plate, he completed each rep with relative ease compared to his coaches.
Perhaps this shouldn’t have been a surprise given Wheels’ background in powerlifting. He told Sierra that he used 250-pound (113.4 kg) dumbbells for bench training and 185-pound (84 kg) dumbbells for the seated shoulder press. However, lifting that weight can be a challenge when you’re at the tail end of a contest prep and depleted of muscle-fueling glycogen.
Interestingly, though, Wheels revealed that he was eating an incredibly low 1,000 calories a day (including zero carbs) over the past three weeks to drop from 270 pounds (122.5 kg), he doesn’t find cutting as difficult as bulking up.
“When you bulk up right, you wake up full, you go to bed full, you’re never hungry,” Wheels explained. “If you’re starving and bulking up, you’re not bulking up enough. When I’m bulking, there’s never a point in the day where I enjoy anything.”
After their final set was over, the team moved on to another machine that worked the chest in a very different way.
Flye Inline Loaded machine with plate
Wheels and his training partners then worked on the incline fly machine with a plate to get a full leg stretch. Despite being “flat” due to a lack of glycogen in his muscles, Wheels had visible ridges on his chest as he performed the exercise.
Typically, bodybuilders will consume carbohydrates shortly before a competition to achieve a fuller appearance. However, with Wheels needing to make weight for the Amateur Olympia just 48 hours after taking the stage in Anaheim, Bentson said he will compete in the first show with no carbs in his system.
In between sets, Wheels practiced his poses, showing off a balanced physique that should surely look even more impressive when he completes his second show.
Incline press machine with plate
The second to last exercise targeted the upper pectorals, anterior deltoids and triceps. Starting with a pair of 45-pound plates per side, the team increased the intensity with each set. A shirtless Wheels looked right at home working 180lb (81.6kg) worth of plates on each side for five reps in the penultimate set.
To end this part of the workout, the team used a “burn out,” in Wheels’ words. The weight was dropped back to the starting point, 90 pounds (40.8 kg) per side, and the athletes aimed to complete as many repetitions as possible, with Wheels counting 19.
High to low cable crossover
The workout ended with cable crossovers — an isolation move that puts a lot of tension on the legs. This variation of the chest fly brought out the ridges on Wheels’ chest and arms even more, especially as he pinched his cuticles together.
During the latter part of the session, Wheels discussed the differences between being competition ready and living a less rigorous lifestyle.
“I’m much happier at 280. I’m much happier when you eat whatever you want, whenever you want,” Wheels said. “Looking good is great for the odd time when I look in the mirror and make a video. Besides, it’s a constant mental battle of ‘I can’t have this’ and ‘I can’t have that’ and it’s not as much fun as being huge and eating whatever you want.’
Ultimately, though, the award-winning athlete admitted he’s on a mission to see what he’s capable of. Still determined to become the strongest professional bodybuilder of all time, Wheels said he hasn’t given up on his goal of finally completing a 1,000-pound deadlift.
Effective Chest Training for Contest Preparation
While no specific number of reps or sets are provided, you can use this short but sweet chest workout as a base for your own muscle building goals. Aim for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps on each exercise, and don’t be afraid to use a relatively difficult weight on the chest and incline, as they’re multi-joint movements that incorporate your shoulders and triceps. as well as your chest.
- Plate chest press machine
- Slab tilt flight machine
- Incline press machine with plate
- High to low cable crossover
Given his success as a strongman, powerlifter, bodybuilder and fitness influencer, no one should doubt Larry Wheels’ ability to deliver winning performances. However, he certainly faces a tough challenge going from a 270-pound powerlifter to a 232-pound Classic Physique competitor in what has become arguably the most popular division in the sport of bodybuilding.
Featured Image: Larry Wheels / YouTube