Photos by Greg Merritt
Mumbai, India. September 25, 2011.
Backstage, in a trailer, at the Sheru Classic, one hour before showtime.
Kai Greene, arguably the greatest poser in the history of bodybuilding, sketches out his shots and transitions, conjuring and literally drawing his routine.
Close-up of Kai’s sketch book.
“I think of my bodybuilding and my paintings or sketches as two sides of the same coin. Both are means of expressing myself. Whether it be the exercises you choose to build your body a certain way or the manner in which you move on a stage or the pencils and brushes you use to make art on a canvas those are all tools for creating art. Something from inside you comes out and manifests itself visually. Everyone can be an artist if they’re willing to express themselves. So I’m not sure how much one way of expressing myself has influenced another. To me, it’s relaxing to work on a sketch, even though it requires a lot of concentration and focus. When I travel I always have my sketchbook with me. What I do in the gym is not recreation. It’s not relaxing. It’s work. But they’re both means of making something from nothing and then building on that and shading that and forming that into something that you see in your mind’s eye before you turn it into a reality.” — Kai Greene
Below, in photos and video, is the finished work of art. Greene placed third in the 2011 Sheru Classic, behind Phil Heath and Jay Cutler, as he did in the Mr. Olympia a week prior. But, like usual, his was the contest’s most memorable posing routine.
He enters and stalks up the left side of the dais steps. The contest, held in a Bollywood soundstage, featured an amazing backdrop and several HD screens.
He transitions into a pose at the top before creeping down the right side, hitting seated poses and getting friendly with the wall as he goes.
After rolling through a summersault and doing the splits while standing on his head—just another Greene day at the office—he crunches his back before locking in a rear double biceps.
Above is the three-minute routine before a nearly delirious crowd. This non-HD video makes Greene’s condition seem murky, but as you can see from the rear transition above and most muscular below, he was on-point.
Kai Greene fires his last shot.