With nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers and a laundry list of accolades as a strength athlete, Larry Wheels is easily one of the most recognizable figures in the fitness industry. However, if you only know him by name, you may be surprised at how drastically different he looks compared to some of the photos from his powerlifting days.
Noticeably leaner across the board, Wheels has clearly worked hard to prepare for the next phase of his bodybuilding journey. With his sights set on earning his International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro Card at the 2023 Amateur Olympia on Nov. 1, 2023, the winner of the 2018 NPC Gold Coast Muscle Classic Heavyweight division gave a glimpse at his trimmer frame in a chest day workout vlog posted on his YouTube channel on Oct. 25, 2023.
Joining forces with IFBB Pro Luis Sierra at Team Zero Gravity Fitness in Claremont, Calif., Wheels kicked off the session with a quick physique update. After pointing out that he weighed about 265 pounds (120.2 kilograms) the last time he competed in bodybuilding, Wheels said, “I’ve never been this conditioned in my life.”
Currently tipping the scales at 240 pounds (108.9 kilograms), he needs to trim eight more pounds (3.6 kilograms) off his sizable frame before he steps on stage. But with the 2023 NPC/IFBB Pro League Ultimate Warriors contest taking place in Anaheim, Calif., just four days before the 2023 Amateur Olympia, Wheels didn’t want to risk getting injured by going too heavy during the workout.
Still, 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 begins at the 2:45 mark of the video.
Plate-Loaded Chest Press Machine
Starting off on a TuffStuff Fitness chest press machine prototype designed by Bentson, Wheels warmed up with a 45-pound (20.4-kilogram) plate per side. He pushed his pecs 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 faced inward, Wheels had no trouble completing a third set that included an additional 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) on each side. Even when the group swapped out the 25-pounder for a 45-pound plate, he completed every rep with relative ease compared to his training partners.
Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise given Wheels’ powerlifting background. He told Sierra that he’s used 250-pound (113.4-kilogram) dumbbells for bench press training and 185-pound (84-kilogram) dumbbells for the seated shoulder press. However, lifting that heavy can be a challenge when you’re at the end of a contest prep and depleted of muscle-fueling glycogen.
Interestingly, although Wheels revealed that he’s been eating an incredibly low 1,000 calories per day (including zero carbohydrates) for the previous three weeks to drop from 270 pounds (122.5 kilograms), he doesn’t find cutting nearly as difficult as bulking.
“When you’re doing bulking right, you wake up full, you go to bed full, you’re never hungry,” Wheels explained. “If you’re hungry and you’re bulking, you’re not bulking hard enough. When I’m bulking, there’s never a point in the day where I’m enjoying anything.”
After finishing up their final set, the group moved on to another machine that worked the chest in a much different manner.
Plate-Loaded Incline Flye Machine
Next, Wheels and his training partners worked on the plate-loaded incline flye machine to get a full stretch of the pecs. Despite being “flat” due to a lack of glycogen in his muscles, Wheels had visible striations in his chest as he performed the exercise.
Ordinarily, bodybuilders will consume carbohydrates shortly before a contest to produce a fuller look. However, with Wheels needing to make weight for the Amateur Olympia just 48 hours after he hits the stage in Anaheim, Bentson said he will compete in the first show without any carbs in his system.
In between sets, Wheels practiced his poses, showcasing a well-balanced physique that should surely look even more impressive when he’s filled out for his second show.
Plate-Loaded Incline Press Machine
The second-to-last exercise targeted the upper pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps. Starting with a pair of 45-pound plates per side, the group ramped up the intensity with every set. A shirtless Wheels looked right at home working with 180 pounds (81.6 kilograms) worth of plates on each side for five repetitions on the penultimate set.
To finish off this portion of the workout, the group utilized a “burn out,” in Wheels’ words. The weight was reduced back to the starting point, 90 pounds (40.8 kilograms) per side, and the athletes aimed to complete as many repetitions as possible, with Wheels tallying 19.
High-to-Low Cable Crossover
The workout ended with cable crossovers — an isolation movement that applies a high amount of tension to the pecs. This chest flye variation brought out the striations in Wheels’ chest and arms even more, especially as he squeezed his pecs together.
During the final part of the session, Wheels discussed the differences between getting contest-ready and following a less-strict lifestyle.
“I’m a lot happier at 280. I’m a lot happier when you eat what you want, whenever you want,” Wheels said. “Looking good is great for the odd time that I look in the mirror and make a video. Outside of that, it’s a constant battle mentally of ‘can’t have that’ and ‘can’t have this’ and it’s just not as fun as being huge and eating whatever you want.”
Ultimately, though, the decorated athlete acknowledged that he’s on a mission to see what he’s capable of. Still determined to become the strongest professional bodybuilder of all time, Wheels stated that he hasn’t abandoned his goal of eventually completing a 1,000-pound deadlift.
Efficient Contest Prep Chest Workout
Although no specific number of reps or sets were provided, you can utilize this short-but-sweet chest workout as a baseline for your own muscle-building goals. Aim for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise, and don’t be afraid to use a relatively challenging weight on the chest press and incline press, as they’re multi-joint movements which incorporate your shoulders and triceps, as well as your chest.
- Plate-Loaded Chest Press Machine
- Plate-Loaded Incline Fly Machine
- Plate-Loaded Incline Press Machine
- High-to-Low Cable Crossover
Given all the success he’s enjoyed as a strongman, powerlifter, bodybuilder, and fitness influencer, no one should doubt Larry Wheels’ ability to deliver a winning performance. However, he certainly faces a tough challenge to go from being a 270-pound strength athlete to a 232-pound Classic Physique competitor in what’s become arguably the most popular division in the sport of bodybuilding.
Featured Image: Larry Wheels / YouTube