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Flex Lewis Talks Moving to Open Bodybuilding for the 2020 Olympia

The seven-time 212 Olympia champ is ready for his next challenge.

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Flex Lewis
Jeffery Salter / M+F Magazine

After securing seven consecutive 212 Olympia titles, Flex Lewis is setting his sights even bigger as he works toward earning a shot at the illustrious Mr. Olympia crown on the open bodybuilding stage in 2020. That means he’s going to need to add mass to a body that already has plenty of it, but the “Welsh Dragon” is ready for the challenge. We caught up with him recently to talk about his plans for next year’s Olympia, and just how much muscle he thinks he can add.

M&F: So it’s going to be a little bit weird being in Las Vegas in 2019 not seeing you on stage, but everybody knows that you have big plans for 2020. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Lewis: Well, obviously the show has been picked out, which is the Mr. Olympia, where I will be stepping on stage next.

So you’re going straight to the Olympia?

Yeah, that is the game plan. Obviously I’ve spoken about it, but for all the fans that don’t know, yes straight to the Olympia in 2020. The off-season started fantastically, I put a lot of weight on. In December and January I was over in the UK with my mother’s cooking, and [I’ve] benefited tremendously from that.

Now if we look back at Olympias all the way back from the ‘80s and ‘90s into the 2000s, we’ve seen smaller guys do very well: Lee Labrada, Rich Gaspari, Shawn Ray, Lee Priest. But it’s been a while since we’ve had a smaller guy, obviously because of the 202 and the 212 division. So the big question is: Can you win?

I’m going to play into my strengths, and that is conditioning and symmetry. That’s one of the reasons why I picked 2020 and not 2019—to bring that package that’s not been ever seen by anyone, not even myself. So of course I’m training to win. I wouldn’t be throwing myself into the mix to stand up there and place top five. I’m coming to win. Every show I’ve ever put my head into, I’m training for that first place. And if I didn’t believe in it and I didn’t have the people around me that believe in me and achieving that goal then I wouldn’t be throwing myself into that 2020 mix.

I look at last year’s winner, Shawn Rhoden. The lines, the symmetry, and the conditioning is now something that I’m motivated [by], more than ever, to get back on that stage. Now obviously depending on who wins [in 2019], whether they go with a completely different look, I’m still going to bring what I feel is the ideal package. And that’s one of the reasons why, like I said, I have to do it slowly without ruining my physique. I wouldn’t be able to make that development and bring that total package in a short space of a year. [2020 is] going to be a whole new Flex Lewis that nobody’s ever seen.

Now everybody that follows you knows that leading into the Olympia we always see these pictures of you at about 222, 225 where you look like you’re in contest shape but it’s just incredibly cartoonish. Do you and your coach, Neil Hill, have any idea, even ballpark-ish, where you think you’re going to actually fall on stage or is it too early to predict that?

Definitely the mid-220s. [Going into the] 212 last year and the year prior to that and the year prior to that, I could have stepped on stage in the upper-teens all the way to the low- and, last year, mid-220s. So, depending on my off-season this year and next year, of course, I think I’m going to be comfortably in the 220s, possibly just under 230. And again, the way that my off-season was going this year, I was a very lean 240.

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