The American IFBB pro bodybuilder Kenneth “Flex” Wheeler who was born on August 23, 1965, is a competitor of the sport. He has a record of being four times the winner of the Arnold Classic, and he was represented by Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of his most exquisite bodybuilders. Flex Wheeler was apparently the most desirable physique competitor Ronnie Coleman had come across. Basically from Fresno, California, Wheeler was a pass out from Fresno State. As a child, he was always surrounded by poverty. Children who were damaged and who had self-destructive bents were Wheeler’s sufferers. Dyslexia caused him difficulties in school, but he exceeded in sports. He took up martial arts when he was a kid but soon discovered a passion for bodybuilding and got into bodybuilding competitions. It is collected as a fact that he observes himself first and principal as a martial artist. Wheeler is recognized for his flexibility, which involves the capacity to do a split, which is why he got his name, Flex.
In this article, we are going to discuss what Flex Wheeler does in his entire day to get an amazing physique as he has right now. We will also discuss his fitness routine, his diet plans, and his workout routine which will also include his current body stats and the number of medals and awards he has won. So stay tuned for all about Flex Wheeler.
Flex Wheeler Statistics
- Birth Year: 1965
- Birth Date: 23 August
- Height – 5’7″ (170cm)
- Weight – 225 – 235lbs (102.1–106.6kg)
- Chest – 56 inches
- Waist – 33 inches
- Biceps – 24 inches
Flex Wheeler Awards and Achievements
- 1985 — AAU Teen Mr. America 1st (MT)
- 1987 — Rust Wanner 1st MW
- 1989 — NPC Contra Costa 1st (HW)
- 1989 — NPC Governor’s Cup 1st (HW and Overall)
- 1989 — NPC California Championships 1st (LHW)
- 1989 — NPC Nationals 5th (LHW)
- 1990 — NPC Junior Nationals 2nd (HW)
- 1991 — NPC Nationals 2nd (HW)
- 1991 — NPC USA Championships 2nd (HW)
- 1992 — NPC USA Championships 1st (HW and Overall)
- 1993 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 1st
- 1993 — IFBB Arnold Classic 1st
- 1993 — IFBB German Grand Prix 1st
- 1993 — IFBB French Grand Prix 1st
- 1993 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 2nd
- 1995 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 1st
- 1995 — IFBB Arnold Classic 2nd
- 1995 — IFBB South Beach Pro 1st
- 1995 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 8th
- 1995 — IFBB Grand Prix Spain 5th
- 1996 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 1st
- 1996 — IFBB Arnold Classic 2nd
- 1996 — IFBB Night of Champions 1st
- 1996 — IFBB Canada Pro Classic 2nd
- 1996 — IFBB Florida Cup Pro 1st
- 1996 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 4th
- 1997 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 1st
- 1997 — IFBB Arnold Classic 1st
- 1997 — IFBB San Jose Pro 1st
- 1998 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 1st
- 1998 — Arnold Classic 1st
- 1998 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 2nd
- 1999 — IFBB Grand Prix England 2nd
- 1999 — IFBB Joe Weider’s Pro World 2nd
- 1999 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 2nd
- 2000 — IFBB Mr. Olympia 3rd
- 2000 — IFBB Hungarian Grand Prix 1st
- 2000 — IFBB Arnold Classic 1st
- 2000 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 2nd
- 2003 — IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational 3rd
Flex Wheeler Workout Routine
Usually, Wheeler represented himself as a martial artist before he was a bodybuilder. He imagined becoming a martial arts instructor in his boyhood, but his life had other programs. He learned martial art as well as started lifting weights simultaneously. When he was 19 years old, he first fought in a bodybuilding contest. AAU Teen Mr. America crowned him the winner after two years. ‘Flex’ is a nickname he earned due to his exceptional adaptability in weight lifting.
So far as his bodybuilding profession is involved, he just went with the current. When Flex was a child he was quite lean, he said in an interview for Generation Iron. His biology of the body, however, he was late to the bodybuilding sport, he won his first contest and attained the determination needed to pursue the career. In Wheeler’s budding career as a bodybuilder, he found it delightful, but he later discovered that it was a work in itself, one that he could practice to pay his own bills and make a living. Despite this, he was passionate enough to attempt for his goals and reach them.
When it comes to his bodybuilding profession, he just followed the course. When Flex was a child he was quite lean, he said in a conversation for Generation Iron. A bodybuilder from his city advised him that he had great eugenics and then encouraged him to participate in a local gym for bodybuilding. In those days, Flex had no idea that bodybuilding had a great career prospect.
Before commencing a workout or training routine, drink sufficient water to keep your body hydrated. In addition to warming up before training exercises, you should expand your muscles afterward. As a result, you will be capable to exercise without getting wounded. Old-school rehearsals have always been a preference of Flex
His advice for strengthening and overexpansion includes classic moves like squatting, deadlifting, pull-ups, rows, and presses. Each movement should be performed a culmination of three times. Exercises such as calf raise, bicep curls, ab work, and other isolation exercises can help you maintain your physique too, announces Flex wheeler.
To gain volume and strength, Wheeler performed many basic movements. He exercised his back with one-arm cable rows, seated cable rows, chin-ups, and back extensions, for example. It’s really exceptional that he was able to develop such an awesome physique in the ‘90s without having access to the deluxe gym mechanisms of the present time. Heavy lifting with low repetitions was his foremost training method. The exercises were massively tolerant in nature.
Exercise with a barbell bench is Flex’s opening chest exercise. In the exercise, he does set and rep repetitions as repeatedly as possible. The following exercises will help you build just like Flex’s chest.
- 5 sets & 10-12 reps — Incline barbell bench
- 5 sets & 10-15 reps — Flat machine press
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Flat dumbbell bench press
- 5 sets & 10-15 reps — Hammer strength press
- 5 sets & 15-20 reps — Incline dumbbell fly
Besides training his upper, middle, and lower back muscles to attain an extensive body image, Flex adjusted his back with flexibility exercises. Flex’s Back workout provides muscles with an immeasurable workout and helps promote strong muscles.
- 5 sets & 10 reps — Assisted pull up machine
- 5 sets & 10-15 reps — T-bar row
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Close grip seated cable row
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Close grip lat pulldown
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Barbell deadlift
Below you will find Arm workouts that will help you build your arms by stretching your biceps and triceps. You can feel the variation in your body with just a few small alterations.
- 4 sets & 10-15 reps — Triceps pushdown machine
- 4 sets & 10-15 reps — Single-arm machine preacher curl
- 4 sets & 10-15 reps — Single-arm triceps extension with rope
- 4 sets & 10-15 reps — Machine preacher curl
- 4 sets & 10-15 reps — Dumbbell alternating curl
You need to put a lot of energy into the mass stock of your shoulders and use several exercises to achieve a strong shoulder muscle. Following are Flex Wheeler’s shoulder conditioning exercises.
- 5 sets & 10-15 reps — Dumbbell rear delt fly
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Barbell upright row
- 5 sets & 10-15 reps — Incline dumbbell front raise
- 5 sets & 8-12 reps — Smith machine overhead press
- 5 sets & 15-20 reps — Reverse pec deck
- 5 sets & 12-15 reps — Machine shrug
Following are the various Leg Workout, Leg press, and many more exercises of Flex Wheeler. Leg exercises are performed with a very high number of repetitions on average as associated with others.
- 4 sets & 15-20 reps — Single leg extension
- 4 sets & 15-20 reps — Leg press
- 4 sets & 15-20 reps — Hack squat
- 4 sets & 15-20 reps — Lying hamstring curl
- 4 sets & 15-20 reps — Leg extension
- 4 sets & 20 reps — Seated calf raise
- 4 sets & 20 reps — Donkey calf raise
That was all about the workout routine that Flex Wheeler goes through in his whole week. His workout routine does change and is not constant because of his different needs and types. However, there are some tips that he does follows and shares with his fans and followers so that they could get the best of their workout.
Flex Wheeler Workout Tips and Tricks
Flex Wheeler has a set of tricks and tips that he likes to follow in his workout routine. He likes to add a variety of workouts to avoid getting bored but makes sure that he is always keeping the necessary constant. Besides other tips, he also shares them with his fans and people who want to follow him. Here is a set of rules that he follows while working out:
PICK YOUR PLAN AND DON’T DEVIATE
Apprentices gain more advantages when they begin, say expert bodybuilders such as Flex Wheeler. These newcomers are now more anxious than ever before, but more often than not, they miss out on such apparent profits. The trainees are keen to start practicing, but their initial excitement is quickly declining. Exercises that are already distorted become even more flawed when they add more exercises to that routine. As a result, it fails to produce any returns and only leads to dissatisfaction.
According to Flex Wheeler, following a system is of utmost relevance. People normally believe that it’ll be for a long time. According to him, you should adhere to it seriously for a minimum of three months. As a result, your body will have ample time to settle. The result may seem like a lifetime to those who want to see effects quickly, but it is not the actuality. You will see outcomes within the first few weeks of commencing an exercise program, beginning with increasing strength and then moving on to muscular arrangement. In the end, this will develop a substantial base for everything extra to come.
USE ALL THE IMPLEMENTS AT YOUR DISPOSAL
Although some people will advise that you use only free weights when you start bodybuilding, he says that you should also use other tools to work out each muscle group and support muscles that stimulate muscle building and stability. Some people believe that machinery offers protection and stability, making it a better option for newcomers. Learning with a lower learning curve improves adherence and develops first power and form, which are important for progress as a whole.
In addition to free weight exercises, Flex Wheeler considers working out with a machine too. The most effective training programs emphasize the significance of both ways of workouts, due to the variations in the outcomes of each type of program. It is possible, for instance, to get the advantages of dumbbell presses by starting your chest workout with free weights, while later in the routine combining a fly or cross-over cable routine to increase the pressure.
IGNORE INTENSITY TECHNIQUES—FOR NOW
Intensity techniques that are worth the wait:
Flex Wheeler suggests waiting to use these intensity-boosting techniques until you’re at least an average lifter because they’re very familiar and always work.
- Drop sets/strip sets
- Partial reps
- Forced reps/forced negatives
- Burnout sets
- Cluster sets
- Cheat reps
- Giant sets
- Cluster sets
The common agenda of his training regimen includes a variety of methods and emphasizes high-intensity practices such as supersets and rest-pause sessions. However, he says that you do not really require this kind of training until you put six months into the process to arouse muscle growth. In addition to demanding quite a bit of time for recovery, these methods can also be quite difficult to apply. Beginners might suffer from this problem because they tend to get twisted down quite easily and it can also influence the condition of other exercises. Your training will be completely neglected if you do this.
WANT TO COMPETE? DON’T GO IT ALONE.
A gym is often a place that people attend to for their health or aesthetic reasons, but for some people, competition is the only thing that triggers them. Furthermore, Flex Wheeler concludes that it is the competition that urges him to keep up his conditioning regimen. In his judgment, winning the opposition gave him the possibility to fully accomplish his purpose.
Besides talking about his workout routine, in the next section, we will talk about the diet plan that Flex Wheeler follows. He likes to have a mix of all the macronutrients so that he could sufficiently turn his game in the gym strong. Thus taking a look at the food plan of Flex Wheeler through the week, we hop on to the next section.
Flex Wheeler Diet Plan
Investing our time and concentration into choosing the right diet and other constituents that will allow us to achieve excellent body health, such as tending to the calories in our diet and what should we eat? It’s more important to reconsider your diet and sleep when you are looking to build muscles. Flex Wheeler’s diet is something I would like to dispense with you.
To become a triumphant bodybuilder, Flex believes that you need to distinguish your body. Among all macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat, Flex was the first to notice. Neither is there a dilemma about what should be eaten, nor how much should be consumed. A moderate diet is necessary for Wheeler to eat most of the time because of his kidney problems. As for his diet, Wheeler eats healthily and keeps himself fit most of the time because he has kidney problems.
During a current interview with Muscle & Fitness, one of Flex’s trainees remarked that he raised his calories, frequency of meals, and volume of training before tournaments. The diet he followed before the contest consisted of six to eight ounces of meat and one serving of carbohydrates per meal. It is simply six meals in a single day.
Wheeler decided to continue increasing his portion size till about two weeks later. By the end of the fourth week, Flex was consuming eight meals a day. By hoisting his digestion and managing lean mass, his metabolism would be raised. As well as allowing him to consume more food, it disciplined his body to confront the strength needed for heavy lifting.
His student was also taught by him how to profess and Flex asked him to practice until he was soaked in sweat for 30 minutes every night. Stan Efferding, Flex’s trainee, told that he raised his calories, ate more regularly, and trained more before competitions during a recent conversation with Muscle & Fitness. The diet he consumed before the competition included six to eight ounces of meat every meal, plus a serving of carbohydrates.
Here is a representation of a diet plan for Flex showing what he consumes in a single day to get into good shape. You can notice that he consumes six meals every day. The nutritionist recommends him consuming more calories than normal if he wants massive muscle mass. Practice is included in his supplement regimen. Fitness and body structure are closely linked with nutrition, diet, and diet also plays a notable role in the presentation of an athlete. A description of Flex Wheeler’s exercise routine can be seen as under.
As a component of Flex’s cycle, he consumes the following On Season Meal Plan.
- 1.5 cups egg whites
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 6 ounces grilled chicken breast
- 6 ounces ground turkey
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 scoops of whey protein
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 6 ounces steak
- 1 cup brown rice
- 6 ounces grilled chicken breast
- 1 cup sweet potato
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 2.5 cups of egg whites
- 12 oz chicken breast
- Steamed vegetables with 1 cup of brown rice
- 12 oz beef tenderloin
- Medium-sized sweet potato
Same as meal 3
- A cup of brown rice
- 12 oz white chicken breast
- Steamed Broccoli
- 12 oz halibut or tilapia
Same as Meal 6
Flex Wheeler says that he does not really too much amount of a meal because of the certain body shape that he is in. The simple rule applies to it that he eats more depending on how active he has been. Here’s what he says,
I am truly an ectomorph so I don’t require a large amount of food. I wouldn’t eat half the amount of food I ate when I was a bigger person and I don’t really run into any danger as a result. It’s weird; my body only demands food when I’m active. If I’m not active, I can eat maybe one or two times per day and be completely fine. It’s just when I get more active, I also get hungrier. Whether I’m active or not it is unlikely I will run into a weight problem. As everybody knows, I was a skinny person, to begin with, and I pretty much transformed my physique through diet and proper training.
In fact, Flex Wheeler has been quite skinny when he was younger. However, through hard work and dedication, he was able to buck himself up and reach the height where he is currently standing at. Here’s what he has to say about it.
It’s easier to see I was a skinny person when you look at me now (laughs). People only knew me as the athlete on the stage and not when I was younger. Now when people look at me it’s hard for them to really see how small I am and I need to remind them I am not a naturally big person. Now, although I am bigger than the average person, I am definitely not as big as I was before. I hope they can appreciate how hard it was for me to bust my butt to hold the kind of size I developed. I damn near gave my life to the sport to look that way.
He says that he is a perfect weight now as he does not want to weigh more than this. In his words, “I weigh about 230 or so and do not want to be too much bigger than this. I am not competing at the moment so it is not a necessity to carry around excess weight, and I want to be very active and agile as a fighter now – I carry what is necessary for me to do what I do at a particular time. 230lb is very heavy for a fighter in saying this.”
Because he has always been a slim guy, he does not have a lot of fat in his body which is quite great for his profession. Thus he would say that he is quite satisfied with his body. In his words, “I’m not too sure what my body fat is but I would estimate about 5%. Once again, I’m not a naturally fat guy, so the body fat percentage rests at about 5% if not lower.”
Flex Wheeler feels that the body of an athlete should be perfect in almost all aspects and not just bulking up. He gives equal focus to his agility, stamina, and flexibility along with a great sense of balance too. He explains all this by saying,
I think it should be a balance, a perfect package. Not just one thing, but many. I love Ronnie to death, he is everything and more than what the people think. What he has accomplished is well deserved, and I am immensely proud of him. I still go to his house and one of the only pictures that are still on his refrigerator is of him and me posing down at Mr. Olympia. I asked him, why do you still have these pictures up there? He said, “You were my inspiration man”.
Those were great times back then. So when Ronnie talks about smaller physiques I know he is not talking about me so I don’t take it negatively. I carried a considerable amount of muscle on my frame also. It should be a balance – a tremendous amount of muscle complimented with good symmetry.
That was all about the diet routine that Flex Wheeler follows in his week. Moving on to how he eats to fuel up his sessions in the gym and during the competition. Here is all about what kind of tricks does Flex Wheeler’s diet and food consists of. Take a look.
Flex Wheeler Diet Tips
While his diet is quite on the normal side of the spectrum, here are a few tips and tricks that Flex Wheeler swears by. He also shares how he has his diet which would benefit him 100 percent so that people who follow him could also follow the same. Take a look at what he has to add to his eating patterns.
EAT AS IF YOUR GAINS DEPEND ON IT (BECAUSE THEY DO)
In his observation, those who do not encounter opening gains normally blame it on a lack of growth with their training agenda. When they perceive like they are not getting the outcomes they require, they will begin to explore out which workouts they are doing incorrectly or for which exercise, the machine is the most effective. In a more serious scenario, people may combine more strenuous exercises to their schedule considering that they aren’t working strong adequately.
It is still impossible to have a comprehensive workout or a perfect machine to exercise with. A regular increase in strength is good enough for those who are more active at a high level. As Flex Wheeler points out that consuming a diet low in calories could slow down your muscle accumulation.
That was all about the diet plan and how he eats his food. When sometimes Flex Wheeler couldn’t get all the nutrients from his diet, he turns up a list of supplements and extras which we will talk about in the other section of the article. Thus read ahead to know all about it.
Flex Wheeler Nutrition and Supplements
Flex Wheeler uses his own supplements, but he believes that a solid supplementation habit is more than advantageous and necessary for all of our aims and objectives to be achieved. Several fitness supplements can help strengthen your overall health and wellness, as well as your training and achievement for the outcomes you desire the most. This may incorporate protein powder, pre-workout, intra-workout supplements, or even an additional testosterone booster or fat burner if needed.
Because of his rigorous gym routine, he also takes supplements in conjunction with his regular diet. Following are the list of some of them:
- BCAA (They help maintain slim muscle, support muscle increase, and promote muscle restoration.)
- L Glutamine (It benefits to render assistance against muscle breakdown.)
- Cod Liver Oil (It helps in maintaining bone strength and checking fractures or osteoporosis.)
- Creatine Monohydrate (It helps to improve performance during exercise of high to maximal intensity.)
- Whey Protein (It increases volume and power.)
- mix of caffeine, taurine, and niacin
That was all about the supplements and nutrients that Flex Wheeler adds to his diet so that he could complete his nutritional intake and work in the gym and during the training sessions quite rigorously. Moving on to a little fitness interview which was answered by Flex Wheeler. Read ahead.
Flex Wheeler Fitness Interview
ARE YOU TRAINING SPECIFICALLY FOR MARTIAL ARTS NOW, OR IS A BODYBUILDING COMEBACK LIKELY AT SOME POINT?
I am looking at making bodybuilding come back at some point. I am hoping they will bring the Masters Olympia back as I am pretty confident I can win this. If not, I am, in effect looking at going back into open competition.
On the martial arts front, and for the record, I am not trying to prove I am one of the greatest fighters in the world because I’m not. It has always been written that I was a martial artist before I became a bodybuilder and no one has really seen me fight before and as you probably know, everybody and their grandmother has a black belt. So I wanted to go out and prove that I am an established, dedicated, martial artist and no slouch.
One of my mains goals, along with the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Lorimer, is to lateral-lope into movies. There is no actor out there with my size and my name who can fight the way I can – from this, I have already gotten some great offers for movies.
Also, no one was recognized as one of the greatest in the world at one sport who can lateral into another sport and be recognized worldwide. That’s what I want to bring to the stage and the movies.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE MARTIAL ARTISTS AND WHAT MARTIAL ART DO YOU TRAIN IN CURRENTLY?
I am a big fan of Jet Lee, Jackie Chan, and a lot of other martial artists, but they don’t have the look that I do. My martial art is called Kemp-Kwon-Do because one of my trainers is a fourth Dan in Tae Kwon Do and another is a seventh Dan in Kempo.
Both styles together are more effective. If you watch Olympic-style Tae Kwon Do, this is nothing like the way I fight. In this style, you’re not allowed to hit to the face, not allowed to do a lot of things.
Our style is a stand-up style where we can throw almost any technique from the groin all the way to the head. I don’t want to establish myself as an Olympic-style Tae Kwon Do fighter because I’m not – I feel I’m better than that as I’m equally deadly with my hands or my feet.
DID YOUR USUAL BODYBUILDING REGIME CHANGE DRASTICALLY AS YOU PREPARED FOR THE ASC FIGHT?
I’ve really geared down on the training while keeping as fit as possible, especially since overcoming my kidney problems. I have tried to keep the size on. I ran into a problem, not too many people are aware of.
I know some people saw me at the Nationals last year with my arm in a sling and a cast where I had a major tear in my rotator cuff while training for the fight.
They had to put a screw in there to screw the bone back together – this happened in November of last year. Because my arm was in a cast for six weeks, tremendous atrophy had occurred down my right side. As a result, I only had about two weeks to train my right side before my fight.
YOUR MEDICAL PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN REPORTED WIDELY. ARE YOU IN GOOD SHAPE MEDICALLY FLEX?
No other major problems at the moment. I still haven’t got 100% of the movement of my shoulder; they said it would take about six months, so I still have about a month and a half.
It feels really weak and I’m still trying to get the strength back, but other than that there are the broken fingers and bruised knuckles, stuff that comes with the territory.
HOW DOES TODAY’S QUALITY OF PHYSIQUE COMPARE TO THAT OF THE 90S?
I think you, and others would be aware that the quality is not the same as it was back in the 90s when Shawn Ray, Chris Cormier, Kevin Levrone, Paul Dillett, Milos Sarcev, and myself were at our finest. It hasn’t been that way for some time.
In saying that, some guys have really stepped up to the plate tremendously. Guys like Dexter Jackson, and Chris Cormier who has hung in there for a while now.
Melvin Anthony who has really taken things to a new plateau with his posing ability as well as other people like Troy Alves and Victor Martinez, young guys really stepping up to the plate.
But with no disrespect, you can’t say it is like back in the day when you had the likes of Lee Labrada, Vince Taylor, and the others I have mentioned.
WHAT ARE YOUR NON-BODYBUILDING GOALS FLEX?
As I said, I would like to begin acting in movies as I feel I have a physique that is like nothing the acting world has seen. I am also in negotiations concerning a special project that I can’t even talk about at the moment. I have got the green light, but I can’t say too much right now except that it will be ground shattering.
CAN YOU GIVE A SMALL HINT AS TO WHAT IT MIGHT BE?
All I can say is it is related to all sports on a major international scale.
LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING ABOUT IT. WHAT OTHER BUSINESSES ARE YOU CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN?
I work for Muscular Development and write multi-columns for them. I also travel the world talking about kidney diseases as a keynote speaker.
MANY CONSIDER YOU TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST, IF NOT THE GREATEST, BODYBUILDERS OF ALL TIME. DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS AND DO YOU FEEL YOU SHOULD HAVE WON THIS TITLE AT SOME STAGE?
Obviously, I have regrets. I am a predator when it comes to competing. I love to win, hate to lose. Having said that, I think everything happens for a reason. It is a compliment that people consider me to be among the greatest despite never having won the Crown.
So today I get the greatest satisfaction from knowing that people consider me to be one of the best of all time to ever grace the stage. There are even some Mr. Olympias who aren’t even considered the best in the world. So, on one hand, it disappoints me but it also gives me satisfaction to know that people feel the way they do about me.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR GREATEST BODYBUILDING ACHIEVEMENT FLEX?
I think overall, my greatest bodybuilding achievement has to spawn from my personal and private life. All the turmoil I was involved in, the ground roots that I had to crawl through.
Accomplishing all I did was a major achievement given the obstacles I had to overcome. A kid coming from welfare, who was suicidal, and dealt with sexual abuse.
Kenny Wheeler had to step into Flex’s shoes and handle himself on a worldwide stage and I think this sets a precedent for a lot of people who have to deal with one or all of those things I had to deal with: they can get a feeling that they can accomplish this too.
I want people to know that they can deal with all of these problems and achieve greatness rather than becoming a gangster, a loser, a nobody. Man, if I did, trust me anyone can.
SO WHY DID YOU WALK AWAY FROM COMPETITION WHEN YOU DID?
Well, it mainly had to do with the disease I found I had back in 2000. They were running tests on me for about a year. After the Olympia I got the news; this put it all into perspective.
They told me that I had the most aggressive kidney disease known to man and there was no cure. They also told me my life was hanging in the balance and I would need a kidney transplant.
Before the diagnosis, it was becoming increasingly harder for me and I was running into difficulties preparing for shows. Everybody knows it was questionable whether I could get harder or not.
They couldn’t explain to me how long I had been dealing with this and how progressive it got. That explained to me how I wasn’t always able to come in the condition I achieved back at the Arnold Classic in 93.
I was able to hit it one time and not the next, but I did not realize I was dealing with my kidneys back then. I could feel my kidneys fail and as I competed they began to hurt, as I took a break they kind of got better.
The explanation for my illness helped me to understand why I couldn’t be consistent with my conditioning.
What they didn’t understand, and I didn’t understand, until it was too late, was just the sheer process of training and dieting that hard was going to be detrimental to my kidneys also.
They basically said that anything I put into my mouth will contribute to how long I have to wait for my kidney transplant. The most dangerous thing was actually the amount of protein and potassium I was consuming.
I had to decide as to what was more important: maintaining the body I had built or changing gears to come back down to a normal level. Nine potentially fatal surgeries in 11-weeks, I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.
YET YOU CAME BACK TO COMPETE, DRUG-FREE. HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THIS?
What a lot of people don’t know, and I’ll admit it right now, even though I competed drug-free in 2001, the Saturday I competed and the following Wednesday I was in the hospital.
I had kidney failure right then. They told me: you can’t do this drug-free or drugs on, you just can’t do it anymore. They told me not to train the way I used to as this causes muscle breakdown. When you train, the muscles break down and this process goes on in your kidneys.
TODAY YOU TRAIN FOR A MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITION. DOES THIS IMPACT YOUR KIDNEYS IN A BAD WAY?
I can come back because of the kidney transplant. But you know, a lot of people don’t understand that my disease will never go away. There is no cure. If you have a heart problem, you get a transplant and you don’t have a heart problem anymore. That’s not the same with this disease. It will never go away.
I can now train hard and eat what I want and I can have as much protein as I want but do need to watch the sodium. I can act normal now because I have one kidney that is working well, but I have to be smart and not kill off that one kidney.
Even now, I am still much more muscular than the average man so I have to be careful. But in saying that, I think a lot of people thought it was steroid related and that’s why I didn’t come out with it early on.
If people did their research they will find that the disease is what it is.
I have been a spokesperson for the foundation (NephCure) now and I’ve literally talked to parents who have 13, 12, or nine-year-old children with this disease.
If that’s the case then how has my drug-taking contributed to it? I’m very lucky that I haven’t had a reaction or lost the kidney to disease. I know of nine-year-old kids who are on to their 3rd kidney. Once they get that transplant, they experience more ravaging of the kidney and are on to their next one. I’m blessed that hasn’t happened to me, but it could at any time.
I truly believed it was the cost of what I’d done throughout my career so I figured I stopped doing all these things I would look forward to living a long and prosperous life, and I won’t have to worry about my children. But it is the way it is and I do have to worry about my son, daughter, and grandkids for the rest of my life.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE BODYBUILDER COMPETING AT THE MOMENT?
Yes, Ronnie is high on my list, as well as Dexter Jackson and Troy Alves. Lee Priest is definitely there as he is a modern-day freak. Melvin Anthony, Chris Cormier, Mark Dugdale, and Marcus Ruhl are like also them.
Dexter and Ronnie were there competing with me along with Paul Dillet; we were like dinosaurs roaming the earth. I don’t have one favorite. I just appreciate all the physiques on the pro stage today.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF BODYBUILDING?
I think more needs to be done for the athletes. The major companies are making millions off the athletes. These guys (the athletes) are trying to climb to the top and are paid very little by comparison.
THE IFBB HAS CONSIDERED A STEROID BAN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
You know, I did what I did and even competed after taking steroids only to contradict myself and come back drug-free. I honestly can’t say that I’m against it (the steroid ban), I’m for it.
And I know this might hurt some of the other guys who are not for it but I hope they respect my opinion, that I’m for the drug testing as I respect their opinions that they’re probably not for it. Let’s just say that we agree to disagree, rather than me just attacking them – I’m not.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM FLEX WHEELER IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS?
Well, the best I can give. I will continue to pursue martial arts competitions and keep my body in the best possible shape. As mentioned, I am also involved in a venture which will change the face of sport as we know it, but I will elaborate more on this as the time nears.
Acting is something I am looking at getting into, and with my type of physique; this should happen very shortly. And, of course, I would like to compete in bodybuilding again.