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Ashley K is the best Bikini pro of all time with the MOST pro wins of ANY IFBB pro. Bottom line – she’s still going, and winning.

By Giles “Tiger” Thomas

When this feature was initially put to me, the angle was to feature IFBB Bikini pro “Ashley K” (as she is perhaps best known) as the new record holder for the amount of all-time wins by any IFBB Pro League professional. As myself and MD “Buff Bombshell Show” host Lauren Lotter provided (Bucharest, last November) the livestream commentary at the Romania Muscle Fest for Jake Wood and Alina Popa in November (2021), we witnessed 2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson’s record of a whopping 29 pro wins be taken out by Ashley with the winning of her 30th pro event. But some bodybuilding fans might raise an eyebrow at that. “You can’t compare men’s open pro bodybuilding to BIKINI!” they might yell. OK, fine, I get it, but hear me out on this, and I’ll tell you why this is actually so significant, and – well – bloody impressive. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Pro Bikini hasn’t been around as long as men’s open bodybuilding. The Mr. Olympia started its first year back in 1965. When Joe and Ben Weider formed the IFBB Amateur League internationally and after Joe’s wife, Betty, suggested the name for the ultimate bodybuilding event (to decide who really was THE best in the world) by spotting the name “Olympia” on a bottle of beer, the IFBB Pro League as we now know it to this day, was – effectively – born. So, for 57 years, the guys have had a stage – and a home – to display their world-beating pro physiques. Bikini did not even form as an Olympia category until 2010 when the then 18-year-old Nicole Nagrani took home the equivalent of the Sandow and consequent right to call herself THE best Bikini Pro on the planet.

2. Dexter has had longer to scoop up his wins – 29 wins – as well as a Mr. Olympia title in 2008; not bad. But leading on from point “one” above, Dexter took 18 years to accumulate his golds as an IFBB pro. In 2002, I witnessed him win his very first pro show at the British Grand Prix in Manchester, where he beat Dennis James (second) and Chris Cormier (third) to begin what was to become a further 18 years of competing until he competed in – and then announced his retirement – on stage at the 2020 Mr. Olympia. Ashley won hers over a far shorter 12-year time span.

3. The Bikini pro look has changed a LOT over the past 12 years. Something else that indicates the impressiveness of Ashley’s run of CONTINUAL domination. Any of you that have followed the evolution of Bikini will know just how much it has changed. A simple glance of the winner timeline from the very beginning of Bikini – to the present day – will see that a LOT has changed. In 2010 with Nicole Nagrani, to the more muscular look of Brazilian Nathalia Melo when she became Olympia champion in 2012, up to the varying looks of 2020 winner Janet Layug and even the current “world” champ Jennifer Dorie, the bodies literally hop from one look to the next just about every single year. Ashley has had to continually evolve, even as she retired in 2017, to then come back in 2018 with an all-new look that indicated she was paying close attention to the category. Adapting like this, when many others faded away. That’s impressive.

4. Bikini judging is more subjective. When comparing men’s bodybuilding to Bikini, I mean. Even though the night and day look is different from (for example) 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden, to that of current Mr. “O” Big Ramy, the judging criteria has – for decades – been pretty clear cut. Very little has changed in that respect and it’s the evolution of all the men’s bodybuilding in that, since Lee Haney in the ‘80s (Mr. Olympia 1984-1991), then Dorian Yates (1992-1997) and then Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005), the guys got bigger and heavier, yes, but the standards to which they were held to with their physiques, remained consistent. Bikini, in just over one single decade has changed drastically – and Ashley adapted accordingly, amazingly well. 

5. Would we ever see a Bikini lady competing for as long as the men? I’ll keep this one pretty succinct. Dexter Jackson was competing – successfully – up until he was over 50 years old. Would a Bikini pro be able to do the same? Would they even be able to still be winning at 40? I’ll answer that. No, it doesn’t happen. Ever. Sorry. Bikini competition isn’t really a division for the long haul; names (ladies in their 20s mainly) rise to the top and hold it for two to three years at the Olympias. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Go to another Olympia just two years later and 90 percent of the ladies are completely different. Yet another reason just why Ashley K is the best Bikini pro of all time with the MOST pro wins of ANY IFBB pro. Bottom line – she’s still going, and winning. In her own words that she spoke every single day of her Olympia All-Star Tour (Romania, UK and Spain) in November 2021: “I’m just getting started, guys.”

Let’s go rock it!’

Excerpt from Ashley’s in-studio interview with MD’s “Buff Bombshell” host Lauren Lotter in the UK (Season 3, Episode 9, out on MD’s YouTube channel) whilst on her Olympia All-Star Tour (three countries in two weeks, and the tour bookended with another win in Romania and runner-up in Alicante, Spain at the Big Man Weekend).

Lauren: How does it feel making history by winning your 30th pro show, Ashley?

Ashley: I’m shocked! Because here’s the thing. When I first turned pro, I guess my ultimate goal was to win one show and I thought that would be the pinnacle – and maybe after a few years I could scoop up one show win and “maybe” qualify for the Olympia. My expectations were not that high at all, I guess; I just wanted to win just ONE pro show, one day. And in Romania, I just did, times 30!


Lauren: So you’ve now surpassed the likes of Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman and Dexter Jackson!

Ashley: (Cuts in) However! I will say! Apples and oranges guys, because I realize it’s a hundred times harder for a bodybuilder to do that than a Bikini competitor, so I have to give props where props are due for the gentleman, because a Bikini competitor can maintain a lot longer, just like I did in all 2021.

Lauren: I do agree, Ashley, but the only thing with Bikini is: the look changes, right?

Ashley: There is an ever-changing look, yes, or it becomes more subjective in that it can be “anybody’s game” kind of deal, so I guess when you factor that all in, but still, it is MUCH harder to prep for a bodybuilding show.

Lauren: How do you feel your competition preps have changed from when you started, to now?

Ashley: Back, a few years ago, it wasn’t like it is now. I feel like it was much more “bro-science” bodybuilder-type preps. It was more hardcore, like going for those myths of say, “bulking” in the off-season. So, when my off-season came, I thought “time to put on some fat” so I could actually gain muscle – and I soon realized that that is NOT how it goes, as we certainly know now. I guess we’re much more wise to that nowadays. But, back then it really was more that more old-school type bodybuilder type prep for Bikini, which doesn’t make any sense reflecting on it now. I guess back then when it started, there just wasn’t much knowledge or information back in the day, you know?


Lauren: Do you feel that nowadays the whole “bulking” approach for Bikini is completely out?

Ashley: (Laughs) Let’s face it, it’s just an excuse for you to eat exactly what you want. Fat doesn’t necessarily equal muscle. Although I do get we can’t be stage lean ALL year round, I realize that. But for me, I like to set an off-season limit of just 10 pounds over my stage weight. I think that’s pretty fair for most girls, although it can vary depending how tall the girl is too.


Lauren: So, Ashley, in Romania, we got to witness history seeing your 30th pro win. How cool is that?

Ashley: You know, what I said up there to the emcee after I won, what’s cool is that you’d think, “ahh, 30 wins, it’s like ‘whatever’” now, NO! It literally feels like my first win every single time, even if it’s say a smaller show than the Olympia or Arnold. It doesn’t matter and that feeling is still the same – and I never expect that either. I also never expect to go in and win, even if it is a smaller show and I think that’s why I have been able to go at this for so long competing in pro Bikini, because I don’t set that expectation for myself, because I feel when you expect that out of yourself and you then assume you’re going to win – and you don’t? That’s a disappointment, and that’s when you get discouraged. But if you go into it and you’re like “you know what, ‘hey’ I gave it my all, I’m really proud of my physique and I feel good about this, give it my all, enjoy every second of it and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day, if I win, then that’s the icing on the cake.” Because in Bikini, it can be anybody’s game on any given day, so I keep that mindset always and remain proud of my physique and tell myself each time, “So let’s go rock it!”


Guys, She Did It Again …

As stated in the opening paragraph of this feature, the article was to focus on her record 30th pro win. But, at time of writing, yep, she’s won, again! At the Musclecontest in her hometown of Las Vegas. So, yeah, scratch that “30th Pro Win” working title and replace it with “The Unstoppable One wins 31!”


Ashley’s 31 Show Wins 

IFBB Powerhouse Classic
Toronto Pro Show (Canada)
Bikini Olympia
Sheru Classic (India)

Arnold Classic (USA)
Arnold Classic Australia
New Zealand Pro Show
Toronto Pro Show (Canada)
Bikini Olympia
IFBB Russia Pro (Russia)

Arnold Classic USA
Bikini Olympia
Korea Grand Prix (South Korea)
Nordic Pro (Finland)

No wins

Took this year off (eating Snickers bars for breakfast, Ashley told us)

Denver Mile High
Vancouver Pro (Canada)
Battle in the Desert

Denver Mile High
Northern California Championship

World Klash Pro Bikini
Battle in the Desert
Pacific USA

Wasatch Warrior
Pittsburgh Pro Show
California Night of Champions
Denver Mile High
Clash of the Titanz
Patriots Challenge
Texas Pro Show
Romania Muscle Fest

Legends Classic

Screen Shot 2022 03 28 at 1.28.17 PM

Instagram @ashleykfit

Twitter @AshleyKfit

YouTube: Ashley Kaltwasser

Facebook @BikiniProAshley

Ashley Kaltwasser, who has the most pro wins of any IFBB pro, is a Team Hi-Tech athlete sponsored by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. For more information, visit

The post Ashley Kaltwasser: The G.O.A.T. of Bikini appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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Title: Ashley Kaltwasser: The G.O.A.T. of Bikini
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Mens Health

The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout

Japanese Interval Walking 3 jpg

Japanese Interval Walking 3 1 jpg

The overarching principle of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that the harder you do an exercise, the more physiological benefits you accrue; thus, by incorporating intervals of higher intensity efforts in your workouts, you can get more fitness bang for your buck in less time. 

When we think about HIIT, we tend to think about going absolutely nuts on a fan bike or doing all-out sprints.

But as Dr. Martin Gibala explained on the AoM podcast, while high-intensity training rises above the level of the moderate, it doesn’t require a complete max out of your heart rate, nor is it limited to certain exercise modalities.

You can do interval training by pedaling like a madman on a bike, but you can also do it with a less strenuous approach. 

Enter Interval Walking Training (IWT), which originated in Japan.

This 3X3 walking workout is simple: you do 3 minutes of low-intensity walking (40% of peak aerobic capacity for walking — a little faster than a stroll), followed by 3 minutes of high-intensity walking (70%+ of peak aerobic capacity for walking). You repeat these interval sets at least 5 times, and do this 30-minute workout 4 times a week.

Your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals will vary according to your fitness level and age. One 68-year-old who participated in an IWT-based study had his heart rate go up to about 130 beats per minute during the fast intervals, so you’re moving at a good clip.

Even though IWT is highly accessible, studies that have been done on it show that it produces significant health benefits. People who did Interval Walking Training 4X a week for 3 months experienced significantly more improvement in their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, leg strength, and aerobic capacity than those who did continuous, moderate-intensity walking. 

Hiroshi Nose, who developed Interval Walking Training, reports that among those who do IWT, “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20 percent which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training, [and] symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases (hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity) decreased by about 20 percent.” IWT walkers enjoyed mental health benefits as well: depression scores dropped by half.

Walking in general is already one of the very best forms of exercise you can do, and IWT just helps you take its benefits up a notch. Hiroshi has used Interval Walking Training to get thousands of elderly Japanese citizens into shape, and it’s a great form of exercise if you’re in the older decades of life. But it’s also good if you’re just beginning your fitness journey and looking to get off the couch and start doing more physical activity. Even if you’re already a regular exerciser who’s in good shape, IWT is a nice way to mix up your usual neighborhood strolls while enhancing your health even further. 

For more HIIT protocols, from the accessible to the challenging, listen to this episode of the AoM podcast:

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Title: The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout
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Mens Health

The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together

a couple of miracles

a couple of miracles 1

It isn’t easy being a man in today’s world. The same is true for being a woman. Finding the right partner and creating a joyful, long-lasting, marriage is truly a miracle. In their book. In their book, A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, Joyce and Barry Vissell share their life journey. Joyce, a nurse/psychotherapist and Barry doctor/psychiatrist, offer wisdom for men, women, and couples who are wanting to find the secrets for a long and successful life, career, and marriage.

I have known Joyce and Barry for many years. My wife, Carlin, and I attended a couple’s retreat with them to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Our forty-four-year marriage has been enriched by our time with Joyce and Barry.

Joyce and Barry have been a couple since 1964, have raised three children, written ten books, and helped countless people in their workshops and counseling practice. They can be reached at I recently did a podcast interview with Barry and we explored their work, the new book, Barry’s work with men, Joyce’s work with women, and their joint work with couples.

I recently attended a men’s retreat with Barry and seventeen other men from around the country. It was a unique and wonderful experience that I recommend to all men. From the very beginning Barry invited us all to be vulnerable and share the real challenges we were facing in our lives. He started by sharing his own, things that most of us hide, even from ourselves.

“We need to let our partners see us more deeply,”

said Barry.

“We need to feel and express our feelings. Men sometimes feel hurt or afraid, but we’re often taught to keep it well hidden.”

Barry went on to share some of the real problems that he and Joyce have experienced in their own lives. As others shared, hearts opened, tears were shed. We talked about our hopes and dreams and our losses and betrayals.

I shared my experiences, having been married twice before, and the shame I felt being “a twice-divorced marriage and family counselor.” I talked about my forty-four-year marriage to my wife, Carlin, and my fear and anguish at the thought of losing her.

Barry shared his own fears of what he would do if Joyce died. Other men opened up about broken promises and broken marriages. Several men had recently dealt with relationships that had recently ended and shared their pain and anger.

 “Outwardly, we often present a strong, competent image,”

said Barry.

“Showing our human frailty to our loved ones gives them a very wonderful gift of love. When we feel sad, instead of covering it up with activity, we can share it with a loved one. Instead of jumping into an angry posture every time we feel hurt, the vulnerable and courageous approach is to reveal the hurt feelings directly, without anger or resentment.”

Barry acknowledged that many of us were in relationship with strong, competent, women. He encouraged us to also recognize “the little girl” that lives inside each of the women in our lives.

When I returned home after the end of the retreat, I shared what Barry had said about “the little girl” within. Carlin wept with recognition.

“I’ve spent my whole life taking care of others,”

Carlin said.

“I haven’t done a very good job taking care of the little girl inside me.

I held her and let her little girl be vulnerable, as she has so often held me as I let the little boy in me reveal his worries, fears, and pain. I used to think that it was manly to suffer in silence, to be forever strong for others. But I now know that our vulnerability is our real superpower.

I have been somewhat obsessed with life and death for a long time now. When I was five years old my father took an overdose of sleeping pills when he became increasingly depressed because he couldn’t support his family doing the work he loved. Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father and when it would happen to me. For most of my life I blocked out the terror of my childhood.

I grew up like many males, denying my own vulnerability, and imagined that if I were smart enough and successful enough I could outrun my fears and furies. At various times I acted like I was the lone wolf, top dog, alpha male, lone ranger, superman. I didn’t trust others, particularly other guys, who I felt I needed to compete against in order to get women, money, power, and glory I craved.

That changed for me when I joined my first men’s group in 1979. Carlin has said on many occasions that the reason she believes we have had a successful forty-four-year marriage is because I’ve been in a men’s group for forty-five years. Our group continues to meet, though three of our members have died. I’m now the eldest member of the group as I recently celebrated my 80th birthday.

Carlin has also been in several women’s groups which give her the love and support that only women can give. We also have been in a mixed group, we call “The Village Circle” where men and women can learn to love and support each other.

Joyce and Barry have had a similar path and offer counseling, retreats, and much more. You can get their latest information at The world needs more miracles. We need each other and the world needs each of us to be the best men and women we can be.

We live in challenging times. Vaclav Havel, Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and dissident, offers an important truth about the times in which we live.

“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”

In a recent article, “Men and Relationships,” Barry says,

“Over the years of working with men and their relationships, not to mention my own 59-year relationship with Joyce, I have seen some central issues emerge.”

He goes on to enumerate eight areas that are particularly important. Number eight is “Reach Out More to Other Men.”

Barry says,

“Many men tend to isolate themselves from meaningful relationships with other men. I have observed that many men are nearly starved for father/brother love. Because of our fear of this need, we have pushed away half the population of the earth. Practice vulnerability with other men, and you will find it becomes even easier to be vulnerable with your partner. Deepening your friendship with a man leads to deepening your friendship with yourself. And this allows you to become more accessible to your partner.”

Barry and Joyce practice what they recommend to others. Both Carlin and I have benefitted from their wisdom over the years. You will too. You can visit Barry and Joyce here.

If you appreciate articles like these, come visit me, Jed Diamond, here.

The post The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
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Mens Health

The Right Way to Do Leg Extensions for Strong and Meaty Quads

leg 7 1 jpg

leg 7 1 1 jpg

Last month, I talked about how I’ve reincorporated weight machines into my strength-training workouts to good effect.

This year, we’ll be doing some articles on how to use various weight machines properly. One of the benefits of using machines is that they have a much easier learning curve than lifting barbells. But there are a few things you should know about using each in order to avoid pain and injury and use them most effectively for building size and strength.

First up in these tutorials is the leg extension machine, which targets your quadriceps and your quadriceps alone. 

There is some folklore out there that the leg machine can cause injuries and puts too much stress on the knees. But this isn’t borne out by research, which has found that leg extensions are safe, including for ACL rehabilitation

There’s also a myth that leg extensions aren’t functional. But quad strength translates to everything from walking to running, and particularly to explosive movements like jumping and cutting. Also, because people often use compensating muscles when doing other leg exercises (especially if they’re dealing with injuries), leg extensions, by isolating the quads, can help correct strength imbalances created by these compensating strategies. This is useful in preventing new injuries, as well as re-injuries, particularly a second ACL tear

Not only are leg extensions a safe strength-building exercise, they also help give you defined and meaty legs, so you can confidently wear your shorty shorts around town. And, since you’re only moving a single joint, they perform this function without requiring the kind of recovery you need after doing the squat or leg press. 

But since leg extensions, like all exercises, are only safe to do if you do them right, let’s get into how to perform them properly.

Setting Up the Machine

leg3 jpg

My home gym, plate-loaded leg machine doesn’t have as many adjustment options as one you’ll find in a commercial gym, so I couldn’t dial in my position as much as you might be able to, but this a generally good set-up position.

The leg extension itself is a simple movement. The big thing you have to pay attention to is setting up the machine before you start doing them.

There are several adjustments to make to the machine before you begin this exercise to ensure ergonomic comfort, maximization of strength-producing, hypertrophy-creating force, and the prevention of undue pain and strain on your joints: 

Weight stack/plates. There are different schools of thought on what weight you should use for leg extensions. One is that you should go with lower weight because you’re only using a single joint to move the weight, and you’re not able to exert that much force without form breaking down. To get the hypertrophic stimulus with lower weight, you’ll need to do high reps in the 15-20 range. If you’re going to go the high rep route with leg extensions, perform them at the end of your workout, so you don’t fatigue yourself for the main leg exercise like the squat.

The other school of thought is that as long as you can perform the reps with good form and without pain, you can stick to the traditional 8-12 rep range prescribed for hypertrophy and go heavier.

Experiment and find what works for you.

Seat back distance. The seat back can be adjusted forwards or backwards. Positioning it correctly will minimize undue strain on your knees and allow you to produce maximum force. You want to move the seat back so that when you sit down, your knees are not too far in front of the edge of the seat’s base, nor too far back. Your knees should align with the leg bar’s pivot point. The creases at the backs of the knees should sit against the edge of the butt pad. 

Leg pad height. The pad that will sit on top of your lower legs can sometimes be adjusted up or down. The pad should rest where the ankle flexes. Not up on your shins or down towards your toes.

Leg bar range of motion. The leg bar can be adjusted so that it sits more or less under the seat’s base. The further back it sits, the greater the range of motion that will be possible on your leg extensions. Adjust the leg bar to full depth to maximize the range of motion. 

There is sometimes also a pad that can be adjusted over the thighs to lock them down. As your butt/legs shouldn’t come up if you’re positioned correctly and do the exercise properly, this pad isn’t necessary. 

Once you’ve got all these adjustments in place, you may want to make a note somewhere of the numbered positions of each piece, so the next time you use the machine, you won’t have to spend time fiddling around and making the adjustments through trial and error.

Doing Leg Extensions

leg jpg

Now that the machine is set up right, it’s time to do a proper leg extension: 

Slow and controlled. The big mistake people make with this exercise is bouncing/swinging the leg bar up, using momentum, and letting it drop back down. Instead, you want to lift the bar up and bring it down in a slow and controlled manner. Slow and controlled is the path to hypertrophy.

Lift the bar. As you raise the leg bar, you’re not lifting your butt and hips up. You’re not rocking back and forth; only your legs are moving, not the upper half of your body. Butt stays in contact with the seat’s base pad; back stays in contact with the seat’s back pad. Lean back a little. Grip the handles to keep your butt down.

Steadily bring the bar up until you reach full knee extension/peak contraction. Pause for a second during this top hold. Squeeze. Feel and relish the burn.

Lower the bar. Much of hypertrophy happens during the eccentric phase of a lift, so lower the bar in the same slow and controlled manner that you lifted it — its descent should take a full one to two seconds. 

Rather than slamming back down, the weight should just gently touch the weight stack as it returns. Once you hear it lightly clang, lift the bar up again and do another rep.

Toe position makes little difference. Keeping your toes straight ahead versus angling them a little inwards or outwards can create small differences in which parts of the quads get worked. But unless you’re an elite bodybuilder, this isn’t something you need to worry about. Keeping your toes straight or tilted slightly in is fine. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you, as this will help you produce maximum force. 

Go for full range of motion. Go all the way up and all the way down with each rep. If you can only lift the leg bar halfway up, the weight is too heavy.

Go hard. Don’t just mindlessly crank out leg extensions, tacking them on to the end of your workout without giving them much effort. Just going through the motions won’t build muscle. You should be doing sets that bring you within one to two reps of failure.

Sure it hurts, but it hurts so good, baby. 

Leg extensions can be done using just a single leg at a time, which can be useful for addressing strength imbalances.

Because leg extensions only work the quads, they should be done in a program that includes other leg exercises like squats, leg presses, and lunges. 

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: The Right Way to Do Leg Extensions for Strong and Meaty Quads
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