Training

Flex Lewis's Top 10 Training Principles

The top 10 training tenets of Olympia 212 Showdown champ Flex Lewis

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6. BE UNIQUE

The Welsh Dragon creates new exercises, new set/rep schemes, and new methods of upping intensity. To illustrate all three of these, check out his calf training. Granted, his calves have always been bulls, so he’s gone long stretches without training them. Nevertheless, when he does work them, he stimulates growth with what he calls hybrid training.

“Hybrid training is basically a triset or giant set, but it involves exercises with weights and exercises with just body weight, and it incorporates lots of stretching and squeezing,” he explains. “It really started with just me getting sadistic, doing a lot of deep stretches for holds and really strong contractions. You can really go medieval on your calves while just using your body weight. With the weight out of the way it lets you focus on the stretches and holds for as long as you can stand the pain. I’ll go through three different rotations. I call them giant sets from hell, and if you try them you’ll see why. At the end of each rotation, I stretch for a minute and then go back to the first exercise. I go through each rotation three times.”

7. PUSHERS

“They’re essential,”

the two-time Olympia 212 Showdown champ says of training partners. “They don’t have to be top-level bodybuilders, but they have to have that drive to better themselves. Usually, the guys who aren’t top-level guys are more motivated to train harder to gain size. The crucial thing is they have to be dependable. They have to show up on time and be ready to go and want to push me as hard as they push themselves. I like someone in my face aggressively when I start fatiguing on the last couple of reps. I want them to get in my head and help me force a couple of extra reps out. So when I’m home, I always train with partners.”

8. TURN UP THE HEAT

The theme of most items on this list can be summed up as “maximize intensity.” A decade ago, Lewis trained under the king of high-intensity training, six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. “At the time, I don’t think I had enough years under my belt to train that style,” he says. “I do sort of dabble in HIT in the off-season now. I like to mix up my off-season training. But for me I like a little bit more volume [than HIT]. When I finish a HIT workout, I’ll feel like things went too fast and I didn’t have enough sets or reps.” Lewis does more volume than the six-time Mr. O did, but he nevertheless adopted the take-no-prisoners approach of his fellow British legend. The Welsh Dragon endeavors to bring the heat to his every working set.

9. M-2-M

“That mind-to-muscle connection is the most important thing in my training success,” Lewis states. Without it, he may have remained known mostly for his legs instead of, arguably, the most aesthetically pleasing shape in all of bodybuilding. “I’ve just recently learned how to really hit my chest so my front delts don’t take over. Arms were the first area where I really learned how to focus on them in a way I was missing before. Before, my forearms would always take over. And then I started doing certain exercises and really squeezing, and I became less concerned with the weights. And over time I taught myself to squeeze and get connected with the muscles, and the weights obviously came back up with time.”

10. IN THE END

The reigning 212 champ always has a vision of how he wants to appear at his next contest. This dictates what he does in each workout. For example, he places a greater emphasis on training his spinal erectors with back extensions than most of his competitors. As a result, his Christmas tree back details are a contest-clenching strength. His next chest workout will target his upper pecs. His next lumbar workout will likely have at least one exercise that stresses his inner traps.

Lewis neglects nothing, because he knows even the smallest muscles can make the difference between first and fourth when you’re going against the best 212-or-under bodybuilders in the world. - FLEX

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