Flex Lewis Back Attack

Flex cranks up the back-day intensity with supersets and super weights
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CHRISTMAS TREE POPPING

Lewis didn’t get one of the most decorated Christmas trees in bodybuilding by writing St. Nick. He works for it — at the dining table and on the treadmill during contest prep, but also in the weight room year-round. He follows partial deadlifts with supersets of machine T-bar rows and back extensions. The rows, in which he goes up to four plates, work the meat of his lats, and the extensions, done with bodyweight only, isolate the lumbar region of his spinal erectors. Together, the inner lower lats (branches) and the erectors (trunk) form a dramatic pine-tree shape before and during the unfurling of his lat spread, and these details help Lewis repeatedly win rear shots against wider competitors. The Welshman sometimes does the extensions the traditional way — with his arms crossed in front of his chest — while other times he’ll reach as far down and forward as possible at the bottom position, and then bring his arms back as he rises, so at the top, his elbows are back and he’s contracting both his erectors and his lats. “The hand motion is like hitting a lat spread and it brings out the lower back, but also the lower lats,” he explains. “I’ve been doing it for a number of years and it does help. It’s isotension on the lower lats, and I picture the Christmas tree popping out.”

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The workout — in the third week of a three-week cycle — was devoted to blood volumization with most reps in the 15-20 range and most exercises superset, but Lewis used the stack plus a quarter on pulldowns, he low-rowed another stack and he pulled a bar loaded with so many plates that he nearly got us all booted out of the gym. The secret to his success and the essence of Hill’s Y3T system is intensity. Whether doing 6 reps or 20, and whether using all the weight or none, he brings his everything to every set. And if iron should suddenly snap or walls come tumbling down or the finer sensibilities of tummy-tightening gawkers are insulted by the violent thunderclaps of metal meeting metal, screw it, for he has another rep to get and another after that. And on his next set, he’s using even more — especially if you tell him he can’t. FLEX

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