No stretch: Cutler muscles way to Olympian stature

Jay Cutler, successfully holding up a championship medal at last year’s Mr. Olympia competition at The Orleans.

He brings to mind Stretch Armstrong. You might not remember Stretch, one of the strangest, pointless toys ever produced. Stretch Armstrong was a blond, muscular, Speedos-wearing plaything filled with some mysterious goo that made him uncommonly malleable. You could play with Stretch only in a maddeningly limited number of ways – pull his arms and watch him retract, pull his legs and watch him retract, or pull on arm and one leg and watch him retract, OR have a friend pull his arms, you pull his legs and … watch him retract. Last week, for the first time in nearly 30 years, I thought of Stretch as I watched Jay Cutler lift weights (and retract) at Gold’s Gym on Lake Mead Boulevard and Buffalo Road near Summerlin. It’s not that Jay is a person you might want to start pulling – to the contrary, as the two-time defending Mr. Olympia, he’s to be observed in a spectator sense – but because he actually looks like Stretch. It’s as if Stretch were modeled after the 5-foot-9 inch, 275-pound bodybuilding champion.

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All those hours practicing posing have paid off for Jay Cutler.

I want to ask Jay, who competes in the Mr. Olympia finals this weekend at The Orleans, if he’s ever been told he looks like Stretch Armstrong. But with him carrying 45-pound free weighs from station to station as if they are Frisbees, I think, “No Stretch Armstrong questions today.”

But there is a lot to know about the person who is not merely the most muscular Las Vegan, but most muscular human on the face of the Earth. A few notes:

*Cutler started working on his body at age 18 because he was studying criminal justice at the time and, “I wanted a little more size. It was an ego thing.” Within a year he was the top teenage performer in the country; wiithin five years he was a champion bodybuilder, winning prize money instead of trophies. He was being paid to work out.

*Cutler’s “nemesis” over the past several years, Ronnie Coleman, has retired. Cutler finished second to Coleman four times before breaking through two years ago to win his first title. Dexter Jackson, who finished third last year; Phil Heath, in his first year competing in Mr. Olympia; and Dennis Wolf, who finished fifth last year, are Cutler’s chief competition, but Cutler’s confidence is as sizeable as, well, his size. “It’s really me against me at this point,” he says. I’m taking Jay in this competition.

*Each day, Cutler consumes about 6,500 calories and eats seven meals. His breakfast includes 20 egg whites. He eats five pounds of fish per day. He stays with green vegetables, oatmeal, fish and turkey. He stays away from red meat and chicken.

Mr. Olympia

*Along with a mind-blowing weightlifting program, Cutler works out on a Stairmill weight machine (like a Stairmaster, but on which the stairs actually rotate) twice a day for 30 minutes. And before he goes to bed, he practices posing. We all should, really.

*Cutler is fitted for street clothes by Gary Franzen Custom Clothing. It’s a challenge; Cutler’s weight ranges from 265-300 pounds. “It’s hard – they fit, then they don’t fit.” His shape is, to understate, odd. Cutler’s biceps are 22 inches.

*Cutler is asked if anyone in the gym is ever apt to challenge him, physically, in any way. He laughs. “You always get these ego guys, but I’m pretty much respected around here. No one bothers me too much.”

*Early in his career, Cutler studied stars of the day – including Bob Paris, considered one of the sport’s greats. “But nowadays, I’m at the top. I’m my own fan right now.” And that is no stretch.

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