Strong Arm Tactics

How Flex Lewis turned his arms from a weakness to a strength.



Between the EZ-bar and hammer curls, Lewis is likely to switch it up, doing a non-free-weight exercise with an unorthodox rep range. He likes two-arm cable curls with an EZ-bar handle. But there are two factors that make these unique. First, he makes them 21 curls: seven reps that go from full stretches to halfway up, followed by seven reps that go from halfway up to full contraction, topped off by seven full reps.

This intense rep scheme is enough for most bodybuilders. But the Olympia 212 Showdown champ doesn’t stop there. He tops it off with several rest-pause reps. These are performed by pausing just long enough after each rep to regain the strength for another rep. “I may get three, may get five, may get more,” he states, “but every one of those reps is exploded up and then squeezed at the top, and I get a semi-negative on the way down. I lower as slow as I can, but after the 21s my arms are spent, so it’s hard to go real slow.”


As evidenced by the preceding routine, when Flex Lewis would hit arms, he put his everything into those workouts. And this was the style of training—higher reps, greater intensity, a focus on contractions and staying connected to the muscles—that brought his arms up so much he rarely needs to work on them any more. “I didn’t really train triceps or biceps much going into the last couple of Olympias,” Lewis states. “They were being hit with chest and back. They got a pretty good pump on those days. But I didn’t want them to get too big. They’ve come up so much that they’re now a strong point. So this was the first year that I focused a lot less on arms.

“In the past, there was a time when I was focusing extra on them, because they were considered a weak point. But now I’ve reversed that. I don’t really want to be walking around with ridiculously oversize arms. My thing is all about proportion. I could probably put another inch on my arms in a year if I trained them as much as my chest, but I would rather focus more on my chest and less on my arms and keep things in proportion. But I remember it wasn’t that long ago when I put extra effort into arms. And whenever I train them, I still train that same way. Arms were the body part that I busted my ass to build up—and it worked.”


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