Strong Arm Tactics

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


After doing five isolation exercises in 100-rep rotations, Lewis has pre-exhausted his triceps. So next up he thoroughly toasts his tri’s with two compound exercises: close-grip bench presses and dips. Both of these also hit the chest and front deltoids, but after his 400- or 500-rep cable barrage, his arms are going to give out long before he taxes anything else.

“With close-grip benches, I pyramid, using heavier weights and fewer reps. I go to no fewer than eight reps, and I may get forced reps on the last two. I tend to use the Smith machine. I flip an incline bench (set in the flat position) around. And I angle the seat part up, and that’s where I put my head. That way, I can more easily watch what’s happening. My grip is set by touching my thumbs. So I take a grip that is about two thumbs apart. Some people who are taller than me may have two inches between thumb-to-thumb, but anything more than that I think hits the chest more and the triceps less. And if I use the Smith machine, I come down to the lowest part of my pecs. I just feel that gives me the best stretch for my triceps.”

Of his other compound triceps exercise, Lewis avers: “I love dips. I do these with just my body weight. I try to get high reps, and I go to failure on every set. I try to eliminate my chest as much as I can. I use dips on chest day, but then I dramatically lean forward. For triceps, I keep my body as upright as possible. If I don’t do body-weight dips, I’ll do machine dips. Again, I keep my rep-range to 20-plus. But I tend to squeeze a lot more on these, especially on the final two or three reps of sets. I’ll hold and squeeze as hard as I can.”


“I love dumbbell curls,” the Welsh Dragon opines. He begins his biceps routine with standing alternate dumbbell curls. “A lot of people just throw the weight up. Myself, I try to get a full range of motion, and I turn my hand as much as I can, and hold for a second and squeeze.” The turning of the wrist from palms facing the body’s center plane to palms facing backward and then tilted slightly outward is known as supination. In addition to elbow flexion, this is the other key function of the biceps.

Doing a dumbbell curl without supination is like eating cake without the icing, because that wrist twist is the greatest advantage of dumbbell curls over two-arm curls. After three or four sets of alternate dumbbell curls, Lewis follows with two sets of curling the dumbbells simultaneously.

The world’s best 212-or-under bodybuilder performs two other free-weight basics for biceps: EZ-bar curls and hammer curls. When doing the EZ-bar curls, he is cognizant of always getting a slight squeeze at contractions. The hammer curls are done seated and alternating his left and right arms. Hammer curling, which works the brachioradialis of the lower arms in addition to the biceps and brachialis of the upper arms, is as close as the Welsh Dragon gets to training his forearms—which are among the best of all time. As with most arm exercises, he keeps the reps relatively high—in the 12–20 range—on both EZ-bar curls and hammer curls.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Flex's whole arm workout! >>

More about: 




Subscribe to Flexonline

Give a Gift
Customer Service