Kai Greene shares the lessons he has learned about longevity in bodybuilding.

Kai Greene is an athlete who has not competed since 2016 yet he still maintains an extremely impressive physique. We previously discussed with Kai how he’s changed his training routine compared to his competitive years. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Kai goes into detail about the importance of training smart rather than training hard in order to maintain longevity in bodybuilding.

There seems to be two major schools of thought about training in bodybuilding. You have the pros that focus on hardcore training. Athletes like Ronnie Coleman and Branch Warren. Then you have athletes that focus on balance and longevity over heavy weights. This includes competitors such as Lee Haney and Dexter Jackson.

While it might be personal opinion as to which technique is better for the best physique on stage, there are some important distinctions between the two tactics regarding long term planning. This is in relation to both health and longevity as a threatening athlete on stage. While training extremely hard can yield powerful results year after year, there are some bodybuilders who think this will cut your bodybuilding career short in the long term due to accumulating injuries over time.

Kai Greene seems to now be one such bodybuilder that favors balance over hardcore training. In our recent video conversation with Kai, we asked him what his secret to longevity was in bodybuilding. It’s well known that Kai still keeps an incredible physique despite no longer competing. So what kind of advice would Kai give to aspiring bodybuilders looking to stay massive and shredded long term.

Kai Greene explains that the secret is to not necessarily train hard but instead train smart. This shouldn’t be misconstrued as being lazy during training. Hard work in the gym is always necessary for improvements. But how you execute that hard training is vital for longevity.

Kai explains that when he was a younger bodybuilder, he wold look up to Lee Haney as his idol. Haney would often state that he focused on lighter weight and balanced training in order to maintain a threatening physique in the long term. It’s part of what helped him hold onto the Mr. Olympia title for eight years.

When he was younger, Kai Greene assumed that Lee Haney was only saying this to be responsible. That in real life he was training hardcore and didn’t want to admit it for fear of influencing young men and getting them hurt.

Now that Kai is older and lived a life as an experienced top level pro bodybuilder, he understands that Lee Haney wasn’t lying at all. He was telling the truth… and it works. Dexter Jackson is a more modern example of how this mentality pays off. Jackson has won a Mr. Olympia, is the most decorated pro in the history of the sport, and still lands in the top five year after year despite being 50 years old. Certainly genetics play a factor, but the proof is in the pudding, thinking ahead when it comes to bodybuilding can lead to a longer and more successful career.

Kai Greene furthers the conversation by applying this long term thinking to everything regarding bodybuilding. It’s far too often that young athletes focus on being the best without looking towards the future 10 years down the road. Kai thinks it is important to have these conversations and to be honest about the best way to train so that young aspiring athletes will develop better habits.

While there will always be athletes like Ronnie Coleman who became a legend due to his hardcore training, the aftermath is something that should be considered. Some athletes, like Ronnie, are okay with the sacrifice and the results that follow. Kai Greene just isn’t sure if that should be the norm, as it’s been proven that bodybuilders can become champions without that kind of sacrifice.

You can watch Kai Greene’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.