If you want to determine the most successful bodybuilder of a certain era, then you simply look at the number of championships they won during their careers. Determining the most popular competitors is a little different. Social media can help provide some information, but it isn’t all about followers online. Crowd support at shows, lines at expos, and merchandise sales could tell more of the story.
Meanwhile, Walker was one of Cutler’s fans growing up, but he’s now forging his own legacy and building his own fanbase — and trophy case — that could potentially rival Cutler’s someday.
Could Walker actually match Culter’s accomplishments? We’ll have to wait a while before we get an answer. But in the meantime, we here at BarBend are breaking down their physiques and accomplishments to see how both men stack up.
Credit: @JayCutler on Instagram (Cutler) // T.J. Darr (Walker)
Comparing the duo’s accomplishments in 2023 wouldn’t exactly be fair to Walker. He’s only in his third full season as a pro, while Cutler had a career that lasted well over a decade. Even though we will mention all of Cutler’s major career highlights, we’ll emphasize his success up to the age of 28, which is Walker’s age as of March 2023. In a striking coincidence, the two even share a birthday — August 3 — meaning Cutler is exactly 21 years older than Walker.
Jay Cutler’s Accomplishments
Cutler won 15 pro shows during his career, including four Mr. Olympia titles and three Arnold Classics. However, he didn’t score any of those Olympias before the age of 33. If we were to keep his career analysis to the age of 28, then that leads up to his 2002 season.
According to Muscle Memory, Cutler turned pro in 1996 by winning the NPC Nationals heavyweight title. His first pro show was the 1998 Night of Champions, where he placed 12th. He then qualified for the 1999 Mr. Olympia by placing in the top three at that year’s Iron Man Invitational, but he finished 15th out of 16 competitors at the O itself.
Cutler’s first pro win came at the 2000 Night of Champions, which became the New York Pro years later. He then finished eighth at that year’s Mr. Olympia. He really hit his stride after placing second to champion Ronnie Coleman at the 2001 Mr. Olympia. Many feel Cutler was actually the better competitor that night, and it’s a decision that is still considered one of the most controversial in the show’s history.
The 2002 season kicked off with 28-year-old Cutler winning his first Arnold Classic title. He then opted to skip the Olympia that year, making his career highlights up to age 28 as follows:
1996 NPC Nationals Heavyweight Winner
2000 Night of Champions Winner
2001 Mr. Olympia, 2nd Place
2002 Arnold Classic Champion
Nick Walker’s Accomplishments
Walker turned pro at the 2020 North American Championships, and he immediately made his pro debut at the Chicago Pro that same season, finishing in fourth.
He already had a following going into the 2021 season, but his popularity skyrocketed after winning the New York Pro. In another coincidence, Walker’s first pro win came at the same contest as Cutler’s, albeit with a different name.
The 2021 Arnold Classic came after the New York Pro due to scheduling changes around the COVID-19 pandemic. Walker shocked the world and won that contest as well, marking his first major title in only his third pro show.
His Olympia debut came two weeks later with a fifth-place finish — 10 spots higher than Cutler’s first Mr. O outing. Walker returned to the Olympia in 2022 and placed third behind champion Hadi Choopan and runner-up Derek Lunsford. He then kicked off the 2023 season by returning to the Arnold Classic, where he finished second behind champion Samson Dauda.
Walker isn’t expected to compete again until the 2023 Olympia Weekend on Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, FL, and he be turn 29 by that point. Here are his career highlights as of March 2023:
2020 North Americans Champion
2021 New York Pro Winner
2021 Arnold Classic Champion
2022 Mr. Olympia, 3rd Place
Both men are known for their freakish muscle mass — but how did they build it? Cutler is reported to be 5’9” while Walker stands 5’7”, and both weighed around 250 pounds on stage. With Walker being such a fan of Cutler growing up, you can imagine that he took some training cues from the four-time Mr. Olympia over the years.
Jay Cutler’s Training Style
“While machines are still beneficial — when you get to a certain point, you can’t get to that [Mr. Olympia] level without doing free weight movements,” Cutler said on his YouTube channel in September 2021. He did (and still does), however, work more with machines and dumbbells to refine his physique as his career progressed.
During his prime, Cutler implemented a high-volume training approach and rarely used supersets or other intensity-boosting methods. He hit upwards of 20 to 25 sets per body part, with sets being in the eight to 12 rep range. He still follows this approach as he nears his 50th birthday.
In November 2022, Cutler shared an 11-exercise shoulders and triceps workout that is similar to how he trained during his days of dominating the stage. He didn’t detail the reps and sets, but these are the moves he performed:
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Chest-Supported Seated Lateral Raise Machine
Rear Delt Cable Crossover Flye
Incline Fixed Barbell Front Raise
Incline Dumbbell Rear Delt Flye
Seated Triceps Extension Machine
Cable Triceps Pushdown
Kneeling Rope Pushdown
Seated Cable Triceps Extension
Machine Calf Raise
Leg Press Calf Raise
Nick Walker’s Training Style
Though Walker performs many of the same movements as Cutler, he’s far more notable for his freakish displays of strength on social media. During his 2022 Mr. Olympia prep, Walker posted a video of himself hitting incline bench press reps with 180-pound dumbbells and deadlifts with five 45-pound weight plates on each side (which totals 495 pounds, assuming Walker was lifting with a standard 45-pound barbell).
Like Cutler, Walker has since started incorporating more machine movements into his programming because they allow him to isolate muscle groups and refine his mass.
That said, he still uses free-weight exercises regularly and keeps his rep ranges around 12 to 15. One example of Walker’s shoulder training is this session he completed with 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry in the summer of 2022.
Single-Arm Reverse Pec-Deck: 3 x 12-15
Lateral Raise Machine: 3 x 12-15
Rear Delt Flye: 3 x 20
Single-Arm Cable Lateral Raise: 3 x 12-15
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 3 x 15
Machine Shoulder Press: 3 x 15
It’s always difficult to compare the popularity of bodybuilders from different eras because of the lack of social media during Cutler’s career and the different ways of promotion between then and now. There are significantly fewer magazines around now, and merchandise sales have changed as well. Nonetheless, you can see why these two men are where they are in the bodybuilding world.
Jay Cutler’s Popularity
Cutler’s popularity during the 2000s was matched only by eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. That’s because, throughout their careers, they were usually the last two men standing on the Olympia stage, and their physiques helped define the “mass monster” era. They were the most high-profile athletes in the sport, with each selling workout DVDs and appearing in magazines. If anything, their rivalry helped both men achieve even greater heights in terms of popularity.
Cutler was — and still is — savvy when it comes to the business of bodybuilding. He was the top athlete for the supplement company MuscleTech for most of his career, started his own merch line, and was a fixture at trade shows. His pursuit of Coleman, combined with his commitment to support his fans, made him a legend long before he won an Olympia title.
Since his retirement, Cutler stays relevant with newer fans thanks to his podcast, social media pages, and his YouTube channel. On Instagram alone, he has more than 4.8 million followers as of March 2023, ranking alongside current competitors like Big Ramy.
Nick Walker’s Popularity
Walker’s fanbase can be seen in part on both his Instagram (1.3 million followers) and YouTube channels (231,000 subscribers). Outside of social media, he has his own clothing line and is sponsored by supplement brand HD Muscle. Like Cutler, Walker also makes appearances at trade shows, gyms, and nutrition stores.
The attention of bodybuilding fans is now more spread thanks to the addition of other divisions such as Classic Physique and Men’s Physique, but Walker remains a popular figure in the industry and could remain so for several years to come.
Both Walker and Cutler employed some of the most respected trainers and coaches in the industry to help them build their championship physiques. Here’s who helped them get to the top:
Jay Cutler — Chris Aceto and Hany Rambod
Cutler began his career with “The Technician” Chris Aceto and stayed with him throughout most of his career. Aceto helped Cutler win all of his pro shows up until the 2008 Olympia when he lost to Dexter Jackson.
Cutler then changed over to Hany Rambod, who guided him to his final two Olympia victories in 2009 and 2010. After initially agreeing to work with Chad Nicholls for his 2013 return to the stage, Cutler eventually reunited with Aceto and finished his final Mr. Olympia contest in sixth place.
Nick Walker — Matt Jansen
Walker has mainly used one coach throughout his competition preps so far: Matt Jansen. The duo worked together from Walker’s amateur days until the 2021 Olympia, where he finished in fifth.
After a brief falling out, Walker switched to working with Dominick Mutascio in early 2022. However, Walker and Jansen reunited later that year and returned to the 2022 Olympia as a duo. Walker finished that contest in third place, and they followed that up with a second-place finish at the 2023 Arnold Classic.
From birthdays to first victories and major titles, the comparisons between Cutler and Walker appear to be valid to this point. They also happen to be among the most popular bodybuilders of the respective generations. In the end, though, it all comes down to Olympia hardware. “The Mutant” certainly has the potential to rival Cutler when it comes to Sandow trophies, but only time will tell if he gets it done.
Featured Images: @jaycutler on Instagram (Cutler), T.J. Darr (Walker)
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