Yoda's Disciples

How Neil "Yoda" Hill trains Flex Lewis and William Bonac for incredible success.

Yoda's Disciples
Per Bernal


The same problem that keeps arising for Flex every Olympia is that he’s right at the top of his weight class, which makes it very difficult to manage. The reality is that his body still wants to grow, and we have to be very careful about how much mass we actually put on his frame in the off-season. Otherwise it’s only going to cause more stress for him when he starts prepping. Last year, he blew people away with yet another phenomenal package—he really is setting the standards in this 212 division and will continue to do so. However, while his weight is a very real factor we have to consider, we did aim to make some improvements in key areas for this year. Flex is the champion for a reason: His commitment to making improvements year after year never wavers, and he always wants to do more to please his fans and build a bigger legacy for himself.

The areas we focused on were his:

  • Chest thickness
  • Rhomboid area
  • Outer-quad sweep

Ian Spanier


Flex has the most complete physique in this class. However, the goal is always to improve, so we focused on training his chest every fourth day to add more thickness. Like I mentioned before with William, allowing for recovery between these more frequent workouts is essential. Especially on chest, whereby the shoulder joints are undergoing more stress, for instance. The secondary workout was based more around blood volumization and isometric contractions/squeezes, and we preferred to use the incline angles on pressing to really emphasize growth within the upper pec region.

To bring Flex’s outer quad sweep up, we included more close-stance leg pressing, hack squats, and leg-extension variations, whereby more of the load is transferred into the outer thigh region. When you consider how big the quads are, it makes sense that you need to utilize multiple angles of attack in order to maximize each area.

Finally, we included more back exercises in Flex’s Y3T plan, which targeted the rhomboids and erectors down the middle, lower regions of his back. This wasn’t necessarily a weakness; however, we just wanted to exaggerate that 3-D illusion of his physique from the back, which I felt we managed to achieve.

Ian Spanier


Ultimately, the biggest factor with Flex is always bringing the package that people expect. I feel the Olympia brings a certain level of stress and demand for any athlete due to the prestige of the event. Especially when you’re the four-time reigning champion, which can potentially lead to a negative response with your cortisol levels, which in turn can lead to some water retention. This is always very hard to manage in any athlete. It’s just a natural part of the process at this level of competition.


Both Flex and William have never gone onstage out of shape, which has created a certain level of expectation from the fans. This is giving credit to their own hard work, their commitment as athletes, and their drive to be the very best at what they do. However, with that level of expectation comes more and more pressure to deliver each year, which both of these guys take in stride.

To wrap this up, I’d just like to say that I’m incredibly proud of both of these athletes, and I’m even more proud to call them my friends. It’s such a pleasure watching both of them evolve as people and as athletes with each year that passes by. Everything they’ve achieved is more than deserved, and I know they’ll continue to do amazing things going forward.


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