Enter the Dragon

The mindset and training methods that have made Flex Lewis No. 1


FLEX: When many guys start training, they neglect an entire part of their body, either their legs because they’re so hard to train right or their backs because they don’t see their backs in the mirror.

Flex Lewis: When I was 12 and saw my first bodybuilding book, it was the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding [by Robert H. Kennedy], with photos of Tom Platz. That’s what got my attention. I never went into the gym to get the big arms and the big chest. It was the opposite: I wanted big legs!

FLEX: We’ve detailed your last back workout and a typical Y3T training protocol. What else do you do to increase the intensity and work that muscle?

Flex Lewis: My rep range is never less than six and sometimes all the way up to 30, depending on how I feel. As the sets continue, the reps decrease, and the weights increase slightly.

If I don’t feel like I’ve had a good set or didn’t put the weight up high enough, I won’t count that as a working set. For instance, I might have a goal of doing five sets of low pulley rows, but I may complete a set feeling like I didn’t do it well enough to consider it a work set. So I won’t. I’d do another set with the same amount of reps and count that as my set. That said, I’m not one of these guys who have a fixed number of sets in my head that I’ve just got to do.

FLEX: Your training sounds more instinctual.

Flex Lewis: I remember meeting Tom Platz very early in my career. They say, “Never meet your idols [because you’ll be disappointed],” but I met him and walked away with more enthusiasm for having done so than I could have ever imagined. He gave me advice. Tom said he would go into a set with the same approach every time and that was not having a number of reps in his head. He was going for “total annihilation.” I remember his telling me this. [Amused] “Total annihilation” was when his hands wouldn’t be able to grasp the bar any longer if he was doing arms, or his legs would just fatigue and collapse. Not saying I agree with that crazy mentality, but if I do have a number of reps I want to achieve and I can do more, I’ll do more. I’ll do a rest-pause and go for a couple more reps.

FLEX: How often do you and Neil [Hill, Lewis’ trainer and nutritionist] change it up?

Flex Lewis: We’ve been working together for a number of years. He knows I like to mix things up, and he works with me. When I’m on the road, my workouts tend to look like a Week 2 of Y3T. Before a show, we’ll do a four- to six- week program, mix it up, do another four to six weeks, mix it up, and do a third four to six weeks for up to 18 weeks total.

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