“Instead of finishing with a half-ass rep, I’d rather pause and get three more good reps.” That’s Flex Lewis’s theory on training.
Of his form, he explains, “If I’m pulling to my chest I tend to throw more traps and rhomboids in it, hitting more of my upper middle back rather than my lats. So when I pull down, I pull down to my chin.” And on the straight-arm pulldowns: “I think about standing onstage and throwing my lats out. So I throw my lats out at contraction and squeeze.”
I MEET THE BAR
Before each set of low-pulley rows, Lewis leans all the way back so that he is nearly flat on the bench. This is all about getting his number. “Basically, I’m psyching myself up for the lift and I’m focused on how many reps I’ll go for.” He hits 15 with 200 and follows this immediately with a set of 20 high-rope pulls. He slips on his iPod Shuffle, listening to Disturbed and blocking out Hardcore Horton’s camera and my notepad during his last two supersets, using first 260, and then the whole 300-pound stack on the low-cable rows, pausing when necessary to hit 15 and tacking on 20 reps of high pulls to both sets.
On the low-cable rows, Lewis employs a V-handle and stays relatively upright. “A lot of guys cheat and throw a lot of momentum into it,” he states. “What I do is I keep my back at 90 degrees [to the floor], and as the bar comes in, I throw my chest up and elbows back, and I meet the bar.”
With the high-rope pulls, the ropes are together at the start of each rep, and then he separates them as far as he can as he reaches each contraction, lengthening the range of motion and focusing the tension on his rhomboids, rear delts, and middle and lower traps — all the upper-back lumps that splinter into focus onstage when he strikes a rear double bi.
Lewis attributes his adoption of Y3T training for the appearance of new density and separation in his upper back. It may sound like a millennial computer crisis, but Y3T is the brainchild of trainer/nutritionist Neil Hill, a.k.a. Yoda, a fellow 5'5" Welshman and former IFBB Pro League competitor (he competed once in 2002). Y3T essentially divides training into three-week cycles: two weeks focused on progressive strength gains with compound exercises and low to moderate reps, and the third week focused on blood volumization via higher reps and supersets or giants sets. Lewis is in the third week now, thus the supersets.
Lewis does sets of rack deadlifts with 315 and 405, and a set with 495. The bar begins each rep from power-rack supports set just above his knees. He uses straps, chalk, a belt with FLEX LEWIS on the back and his iPod. “Deads off the floor is a different exercise, and it works glutes and hams, too. Deads off a rack works lower back. I’ve always done them explosive. I psych myself up so much that I go completely blank. I don’t know what I do with reps. I have my training partners tell me.” I count for him. He knocks out 11, plates clattering, banging each rep off the supports.
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