Strong Arm Tactics

How Flex Lewis turned his arms from a weakness to a strength
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MIND TO MUSCLE

Over and over again when I hear bodybuilders speak of bringing up weak points, the most important factor is the mind-to-muscle connection. It’s as if at some point the proverbial light bulb went of and they forgot about the weight and started truly focusing on the muscle. Typically, they’d spent too much time hoisting ever-heavier metal, and they never truly connected with the body part. Then, when they reduced the resistance and learned how to feel their targeted flesh working from stretch to contraction on every rep, their gains increased substantially. “I’ve just recently learned how to really hit my chest so my front delts don’t take over,” Lewis states. “Arms were the first area where I really learned how to focus on them in a way I was missing before.

“Before, my forearms would always take over. And then I started doing certain exercises and really squeezing, and I became less concerned with the weights. And over time I taught myself to squeeze and get connected with the muscles, and the weights obviously came back up with time. That mind-to-muscle connection was the most important thing. Another thing I did was I trained biceps on their own days, and I trained triceps on their own days. So I gave a lot of time to my arms each week, and I hit biceps and triceps alone to really focus on each muscle.”

GIANT PUMP

Today, Lewis trains triceps and biceps together, beginning with the former. But he relies on a technique he adopted years ago to make certain his triceps are warmed up, isolated, and maximally pumped. By utilizing the Weider Giant Set Principle, he attacks his tri’s with five isolation exercises in rotation. Giant sets can be difficult to perform if you need to rush from one station to the next. However, Lewis can do all five of his exercises in the same spot with the same overhead cable. He starts with rope pushdowns, spreading the rope ends as wide as possible at contractions.

Then come rope extensions, keeping the ropes together throughout each rep. (Because this pushdown method is easier than the first, he can use the same weight for both exercises.) Then he replaces the rope with an EZ-bar handle. He does one set of pushdowns overhand and another set (with a lighter weight) underhand. Finally, he turns around and faces away from the weight stack, grabs either the EZ-bar or the rope, leans forward, and presses the bar out, parallel to the fl oor, cranking out cable triceps extensions.

Lewis tallies 20 reps of each exercise, only halting the toil long enough to shift his position or switch in a different handle. He pauses for two minutes between giants sets. “I always do a warmup giant set,” he states. “And then I do three or four working giant sets. So, all told, including warmups, I’m doing either 400 or 500 reps in short order. Afterward, my triceps are already fully pumped, and I’ve spent a lot of reps targeting strong contractions to really focus on my tri’s.”

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