The consummate road warrior, Lewis has never been shy about jetting out to meet his fans across the globe. Since last year’s Olympia, he’s been to the Czech Republic, home to the U.K. for a short visit, then on to Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Slovakia, Denmark, Austria, and tours of the U.S., including a West Coast, East Coast, and Texas swing.
“The blessing of doing all this traveling it doesn’t allow me to get too big,” he says. “Funny as that sounds, it keeps me in the range as much as it pisses me of . I might get up to about 240, lose six to eight pounds, put fi ve pounds back on it’s a constant yo-yo. But then 15 weeks out from the show I set up shop and stay home to prepare for the show, bringing my weight exactly to where I need to be.”
In early July, Lewis was hunkered down in his new home base of Parkland, FL, just outside of Boca Raton. Just a few weeks removed from hosting the NPC Flex Lewis Classic, a rapidly-growing amateur event in Murfreesboro, TN a show in its third year, now with 156 competitors across 14 divisions, it’ll be eligible to become a national qualifier for competitors next year he was switching gears. Next stop, the Olympia 212.
On September 28, Lewis will take the stage at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and try to accomplish two feats, neither of which he’s done before: defend the Olympia 212-pound title, and defeat Kevin English in the process.
Lewis won the first 212 Showdown crown in 2012, besting 2008’s inaugural winner of the 202 Showdown, David Henry, no question a well-earned victory against a crowded and talented field.
But English, who threepeated from 2009 to 2011, and bested Lewis in a controversial decision that last year - after Lewis had walked away from the prejudging rounds with the lead in hand - bowed out of the 2012 rendition, citing a partial patella tendon tear.
To Lewis, that means unfinished business. “I feel the main threat is probably going to come from David Henry,” he says. “But the guy I want onstage is Kevin English.”
That wish, Lewis explains, is simply due to his fighter’s mentality. “You want to beat the person that beat you, and Kevin took the title from me in 2011,” he explains. “I want to beat him now to have an ease in my mind. It’s an unaccomplished goal at this point in time. It’s unresolved business that needs to be taken care of.
“This is me speaking as an athlete, not as a disgruntled bodybuilder,” he’s quick to add. “We’re all friends, but this is business.”
And how rests the head that wears the crown? Lewis admits the pressure is greater now that he’s the champ. “I go to bed scared and wake up hungry,” he says. “Scared to lose the title, hungry enough to make sure it’s not going to happen.”
QUAD EXERCISES NO. 2 & 3
LEG PRESS STATS: 6–7 sets conventional stance, 30–50 reps; 3 sets wide stance, 15–20 reps
■ Lewis’ Take: “As I’ve said, I prefer the leg press over the squat. I’ve built the legs I have today on the press.”
■ Do It Right: Lewis begins with four or five plates per side, sitting on the pad with his lower back firmly in contact with it. Extending his knees and releasing the supports, he lowers the sled as deeply as possible, bringing his knees toward his chest before explosively pressing it back up. “The days of me trying to put every plate on the leg press are gone now, I’m not trying to set a personal best,” Lewis says. “Coming from a powerlifting background, I have to segregate my mindset of training super heavy. When I’m in the thick of my of season and not on the road, I may train more in that style I feel like I’m a strong bodybuilder for my chosen craft but that isn’t what I want to do most of the time. I enjoy reps, and I enjoy building the pump.” For his widestance sets, he’ll put his feet out near the edge of the platform and come down to the point where his knees pass his rib cage and his lower back curls an inch or two of the pad.
■ Intensity Tip: “As the weights increase from set to set, the rep range remains the same, but I’ll make those reps harder by slowing down on the negative.”
When it comes to leg training, Lewis may not squat, but he certainly doesn’t back away from torturous, stomach-churning intensity. His quadriceps and hamstrings sessions usually separated by a day, with the former taking up to 90 minutes to complete include all manner of overload techniques, including partials, forced reps, rest-pause, and negatives. “I should probably start with a little history of my legs,” Lewis says. “When I was an under-21 junior bodybuilder competing in the U.K. and Europe, my legs overpowered my physique. Speaking to my coach, Neil Hill (who appears in these photos), I took a year of from training them. I just did some leg extensions I ended up doing the same thing the year before last, too.” Now, however, he thinks his upper body has “caught up” meaning the kid gloves are off, and he can train them again with fierce abandon. “What I do now is the same system as what I did when I was a junior, splitting up my quads and my hamstrings to focus maximum intensity on each.” In this exclusive FLEX training seminar, Lewis walks us through each exercise he relies on these days for his Olympia prep, one by one, explaining how he performs each and sharing some of the wicked methods to his madness. You may not find the squat on this list, but no matter you’ll still be gingerly limping out of the gym at the end if you follow Lewis’ lead.
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