Steve Kuclo

Steve ‘King Snake’ Kuclo, is an IFBB professional bodybuilder and firefighter from Plano, Texas (USA.) He’s made a name for himself through winning professional competitions, and standing on the Mr Olympia stage 4 times.

Growing up, Steve was always extremely passionate about sports and fitness. He played hockey to a high level, and spent a lot of time in the gym during the summer months – aiming to get as strong as possible.

This time in the gym would ultimately spark a bodybuilding passion in Steve. He trained hard and began to compete – seeing great success and winning 3 NPC competitions from 2004- 2011.

In 2011, he won his pro card at the NPC Nationals in Dallas. From this day forward, he was  professional competitor – winning several IFBB competitions and appearing at 4 Mr Olympias between 2013 and 2017. He decided to end his firefighting career and focus on bodybuilding full time – pushing himself to his limits in the gym.

This is Steve’s story:


 

Steve posing at a competition from 3 angles

“The guys on the Olympia stage keep getting bigger and bigger and the competition bar needs to be constantly reset.”

Athlete Statistics

Full Name: Steve Kuclo
HeightAgeDate of BirthNationality
5'11" (180cm)34August 15, 1985American
ProfessionAliasEra
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder, Sponsored Athlete, FirefighterKing Snake2000, 2010
Height5'11" (180cm)
Age34
Date of BirthAugust 15, 1985
NationalityAmerican
ProfessionIFBB Professional Bodybuilder, Sponsored Athlete, Firefighter
AliasKing Snake
Era2000, 2010

 

Steve Kuclo completing a tricep dip

Accomplishments

Competitions

  • 2004 NPC Capital City Classic, 1st Teen, Overall Men’s 3rd
  • 2004 NPC Michigan Bodybuilding State Championships 1st place in the Teen, Teen Overall, 4th Place Men’s
  • 2004 NPC Teen Nationals Heavyweight, 1st
  • 2005 NPC Collegiate Nationals, 3rd
  • 2005 NPC Michigan Championships Teen, 1st
  • 2005 NPC Michigan Championships HeavyWeight, 5th
  • 2005 Teen Nationals HeavyWeight, 1st
  • 2007 North American Championships, 8th
  • 2008 NPC Nationals,3rd
  • 2009 NPC Nationals, 13th
  • 2010 NPC Nationals, 3rd
  • 2010 NPC USA Championships, 6th
  • 2011 NPC USA, Men’s Overall 1st (pro card)
  • 2013 Dallas Europa Super Show Men’s Open, 1st
  • 2013 Mr. Olympia, 14th
  • 2014 Arnold Classic Brazil, 1st
  • 2014 Finland Pro, 2nd
  • 2014 San Marino Pro, 7th
  • 2014 EVLS Prague Pro, 5th
  • 2014 Dubai Open, 4th
  • 2014 Mr. Olympia, 9th
  • 2015 Wings of Strength Texas Pro, 2nd
  • 2015 Mr. Olympia, 16th
  • 2016 Mr. Olympia, 13th

 

Steve Kuclo flexing at a competition (black and white)

Biography

Steve’s Youth

Growing up, Steve was extremely passionate about sports. He played baseball, hockey and football at school – enjoying every minute.

He managed to become so good at Hockey as a young athlete, that he was placed in the hockey hall of fame for his efforts. Steve says that self-improvement was always his mission, and it became an “addiction” as he entered adulthood.

Getting Into Bodybuilding

This love for self-improvement in sports, allowed Steve to develop an interest improving his body and becoming as strong a he possibly could. Because of this, he began hitting the gym in order to improve his ability on the hockey rink.

As he spent more and more time in the gym, his love for bodybuilding grew naturally. He decided that he would try out competing to see where the sport would take him.

Competing

Steve was only 18 years old when he stepped on stage for the first time.. He managed to win the 2004 NPC ‘Capital City Classic’ teen class, coming 3rd in the overall Men’s open division.

This win made Steve absolutely obsessed with the sport. He would go on to win the Teen Nationals Heavyweight in 2004 and 2005, as well as the 2004 NPC Michigan Bodybuilding State Championships.

Becoming A Firefighter

While Steve wanted to succeed as a bodybuilder, he also knew that he would need a day job to pay for his food and gym subscription. He joined the fire and rescue service when he was 21, with the intention to help people in his local community.

While he found it hard to juggle long (sometimes 24 hour long) shifts, he believed that this career and his bodybuilding lifestyle complimented each other. The strength gains he made in the gym, were useful in his very physical firefighting role.


 

Steve kuclo tensing his arms and chest in black and white photo


Going For The Pro Card

In the late 00’s, Steve began to compete in full adult events, finding success at the 2008 and 2010 NPC Nationals, with 3rd place positions.

In 2011, Steve tried for the third time to win the same competition in Las Vegas, USA. He trained extremely hard for the event, and managed to win easily.

Through doing so, he managed to claim his Pro Card – starting a career which would lead him all the way to the top.

Winning Professional Shows

The first professional competition he entered was the 2013 ‘Europa Super Show Men’s Open’ in Dallas. He managed to win this show and carry the first place trophy home.

This wasn’t all he received following this event though. He also found out that he had qualified for the 2013 Mr Olympia. This was a dream that Steve had nurtured since he was a teen, so to be invited onto this stage with the best in the world was an amazing opportunity.

He managed to place at a respectable 14th at the Olympia. His long training period paid off, and he could say that he was officially in the top tier of bodybuilders on earth. He proved his prowess by winning the ‘Arnold Classic’ in Brazil a few months later in 2014.

Another Olympia

This victory qualified Steve for another Mr Olympia. He had really found his footing at this stage on the professional competition ladder- seeing the 2015 Mr Olympia as his time to shine.

He managed to pull out a 9th place position this time around, which bagged him a $19000 dollar check. More importantly for him though, this position showed that he was improving.

Getting Professional Help

In 2015, Steve started working with the professional coach George Farah. He says that doing so “completely transformed” his physique.

George’s approach with Steve was to keep things as basic as possible. They worked hard on making small, but noticeable changes to Steve’s diet – introducing new foods and supplements where needed.

He managed to land a 2nd place trophy at the famous ‘Wings of Strength Texas Pro’, but unfortunately came in 16th at his third Mr Olympia a few months later. Steve saw this as an opportunity to rebuild and prepare for the next years contests.

Never Giving Up On The Olympia

Steve had always wanted to win the Olympia, and he attended the 2016 competition with an intention to beat his previous years 16th. He came 13th this time round, which was an improvement, but it was still nowhere near his 2014 9th place result.

Steve knew that it was only a matter of time before he would eventually be on the podium. He viewed these years of training and competing as “self improvement” – the initial motivation which started him out on the bodybuilding path in the first place.


 

Steve Kuclo completing a leg press

Training

Steve’s Training Approach

Steve has created a routine based on years of training and working with the best in the business. His three main goals are:

  • 1) To create a swell: Forcing as much blood into your muscles as possible. To do this, Steve pushes hard in every set until failure.
  • 2) To feed the muscles during the routine: Steve believes that you must always drink BCAA liquid and glucose while working out. He mixes creatine, glucose powder and BCAA liquid into his water bottle and drinks it before,during and after his gym session.
  • 3) To Complete ‘power partials’ and create new limits with triple drop sets: He increases the weight lifted in the last set of each exercise by 30%. Through doing this, he can force new muscle growth and overload the muscle. He then includes a triple drop set where he lowers the weight and completes one set without rest, then does the same again.

His Daily Split

Steves says “taking your body to new limits is not an easy or comfortable process.” His weekly split is a grueling 6 day marathon, with each day focused on a different area of the body.

  • First Day: Quads
  • Second Day: Chest
  • Third Day: Back
  • Fourth Day: Rest Day
  • Fifth Day: Hams/Glutes
  • Sixth Day: Arms
  • Seventh Day: Shoulders

 

Steve Kuclo standing in the gym tensing his bicep


Workout Routine

Quads

  • Straight Bra Squat: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Leg Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Hack Squat: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Led Extension: 9-10 reps
  • Machine Squat: 9-10 reps
  • Lunge: 9-10 reps for each leg

Chest

  • Incline Barbell Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Flat Hammer Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Incline Dumbbell Fly: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Hammer Incline: 9-10 reps
  • Cable Fly: 9-10 reps
  • Pec Dec Fly: 9-10 reps

Back

  • Barbell Bentover Row: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Lat Pulldown: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Seated Low Cable Row: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

On 4th Set: Perform Power Partial and Triple Drop Set

  • Hammer Strength Row: 9-10 reps
  • V Bar Pulldown: 9-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Pullover 9-10 reps

Hamstrings And Glutes

  • Stiff Leg Barbell Deadlift: 3 sets, 10-12 reps

Triple Drop Set on the 3rd set

  • Lying Leg Curl: 3 sets, 10-12 reps

Power partial and Triple Drop Set on the 3rd set

  • Standing Single Leg Curl: 3 sets, 10-12 reps for each leg

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on the 3rd set

  • Barbell Hip Thrust: 12-15 reps
  • Abductor: 12-15 reps
  • Abductor: 12-15 reps

Arms

Biceps

  • Standing Wide Grip Curl: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on the 4th set

  • Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on the 4th set

  • Preacher Curl: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on the 4th set

  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 9-10 reps
  • Reverse Curl: 9-10 reps
  • Cable Curl: 9-10 reps

Triceps

  • Close-Grip Bench Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on the 4th set

  • Cable Rope Extension: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Overhead Rope Extension: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Dip: 9-10 reps
  • Wide Pushdown: 9-10 reps
  • Cable Rope Extension: 9-10 reps

Shoulders

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Barbell Military Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Machine Shoulder Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Power Partial and Triple Drop Set on 4th set

  • Rear Pec Dec Fly: 9-10 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 9-10 reps
  • Rear Delt Rope Face Pull: 9-10 reps

“I have spent over 12 years learning about the human body and how it reacts to different stimulus. I have worked with some of the best trainers, prep coaches, and training partners in the world and have gained priceless knowledge from them… you quickly learn that every body is different and responds differently to different methods.”


 

Steve Kuclo full body posing while cutting for a competition

Nutrition

Off-Season Goals

In the off-season, Steve aims to increase his body-weight and mass by increasing his caloric intake. He expects to have some excess body fat by the end of the process, but isn’t too worried by this.

To increase body-weight/mass by increasing calories above normal/maintenance level to aide in gaining muscle. We will focus on minimizing body fat gain but don’t be alarmed if you do add some body fat.

A typical days meal plan for his off-season is below:

First Meal

  • 6 oz of lean steak
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites
  • 1-cup spinach
  • 1.5 cups oats

Second Meal

  • 7 oz. of chicken, or lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 1 banana

Third Meal

  • 7 oz. chicken or lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 1  apple

Fourth Meal

  • 7 oz. chicken or lean ground turkey (cooked)
  • 2 cups of rice (cooked)
  • 1 cup pineapple

Fifth Meal

  • 8 oz. salmon (cooked)
  • 10 oz. sweet potato (cooked)
  • Vegetable of choice

Sixth Meal

  • 2 scoops
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 hand full of mixed nuts
  • ½ cup low fat natural Greek yogurt

Cheat Meals

  • 2-3 cheat meals per week including a variety of food from fast food burgers to pizza

Competition Diet

While Steve chooses to include 3 cheat meals a week during the off-season, in the competition season he looses them completely.

His competition diet is purely based around lean protein sources and supplements. He aims to loose excess body fat as well, so eats healthy carbs which allow him to complete better cardio sessions.

First Meal

  •   1.5 cups egg whites
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 slices Ezekiel bread

Second Meal

  •  10 ounce fillet
  • 12 ounce sweet potato

Third Meal

  • 10 ounce chicken breast
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

Fourth Meal

  • 10 ounce chicken
  • 2 cups rice

Fifth Meal

  • 2 scoops whey protein isolate
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1.5 cups oats all in a shake

Supplements

“When it comes to achieving bodybuilding excellence, there is no doubting supplementation’s role in boosting workout performance and providing the raw materials needed to translate training intensity into solid muscle gains.”

For Steve, nutritional supplementation is a vital part of his plan. He ended his firefighting career at the end of 2015 to focus on bodybuilding, but prior to this he was working out after 24 hour shifts.

To do this, Steve would use pre-workout drinks. These drinks have gradually become a big part of his routine, and he uses them regularly.

On top of these supplements, Steve also uses whey protein shakes, BCAA drinks, vitamin drinks and green tea.


 

Steve Kuclo completing a chest flye with his wife spotting him

Steve being spotted by his wife, Amanda

Idols and Influences

One of Steve’s main influences in his life, is his wife Amanda Kuclo. She is an IFBB Bikini Pro, and lives a very similar life to Steve.

They help each other with all aspects of their fitness lives. They eat together and have a child together who they hope with follow a similar healthy path.


 

Steve Kuclo posing in full tan and blue trunks

What we can learn from Steve Kuclo

Steve’s entire bodybuilding journey started from a simple idea; self improvement. He was an excellent hockey player as a boy, but he was bitten by the ‘gym bug’ when he first started lifting weights. He managed to build an extremely successful career from this passion – always focusing on the idea of gradual improvements.

In your fitness journey, it may be useful to focus on your own day-to-day improvement, rather than the end goal alone.

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