“I don’t want to get too big.” To any skinny guy, hard-training athlete, or M&F reader, it’s about the worst thing you could say. You might as well cast aspersions about his mother, or imply that he bought the latest Justin Bieber album. We hate hearing that because it’s the warning that every yuppie punk who will never learn how to push himself gives his trainer in their first session. “I just want to tone up,” they say. “I don’t want to be one of those bodybuilder guys…” As if it were easy to put on slabs of muscle and defy your God-given genetics.

So, it’s amazing then that James “Flex” Lewis, who is as serious a bodybuilder as you’ll find in the pro ranks, not only has that problem (carrying more muscle than he can handle for his weight class), but it’s also threatening his chances at the Mr. Olympia this year.

Having an Off Night
At 5’5″ and a walk-around weight of 220, Lewis, known as the “Welsh -Dragon” for his heritage, is in a tight spot. He’s too slight to challenge mass monsters like Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler, or Branch Warren, but has a hell of a time getting his weight down to make the 202-pound class that he competes in. Regardless, Lewis dominated the British Grand Prix last spring, setting expectations high for his IFBB New York Pro appearance in June. He took a respectable second that night, losing the top slot to “The Boston Mass,” Jose Raymond.

His last-minute weight cut to make 202 pounds may well have been a factor. “By 2 p.m. on Friday, I was 214,” says Lewis. With the weigh-in the next morning, Lewis’ camp decided he had to cut his carbs down to zero to lose the extra pounds. “It’s something I never had to do before,” he says. Though he’d already dieted down to 200 pounds while depleting his carbs the week before the event, the carbing-up process to inflate his muscles for the show caused his body to react as it never had before. “I started carbing up on Wednesday, and on Thursday I went to bed at 208. By Friday I was 214. That’s when I realized that my body was just utilizing everything I put into it. My body doesn’t want to be in the 202 class.”

BONUS! Watch the exclusive behind-the-scenes video from our Flex Lewis shoot!

To read the entire article be sure to check out the September 2011 issue of Muscle & Fitness, on newsstands now!