Calves Crash Course

Flex Lewis pumps up his lower legs to mammoth proportions
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Fast and very intense, with little or no weight. Normally, this isn’t the way to blow up a bodypart to the limit, but stubborn calves can be a different animal. For James “Flex” Lewis, it’s a training principle he uses to max out calves that prompted opinionated pro Milos Sarcev to describe Lewis’ legs as “world class” when he first met the phenom at age 20.

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A native of Wales, Lewis has been spending increasing time in the States since 2004, and trained a lot at Sarcev’s Koloseum Gym in Fullerton, California. Although Lewis gets the most comments about his calves and forearms, he suspects “that’s down to the fact that they’re the only things I show when I’m training.”

Lewis is a bit of an innovator in the gym, especially when it comes to training calves. Following a philosophy he has termed “hybrid training,” his goal is to keep blood in the calves through quick, almost-nonstop straight-leg calf movements in three snappy rotations. Lewis had used more conventional heavy calf training in the past, but after experimentation, he realized the benefits of perpetual motion for his own development.

Although Lewis instinctively throws in a few foot-positioning variations, the theory doesn’t change: just keep repping. The Welsh whiz usually completes his calf workout in less than 25 minutes, leaving little time for taking it slow.

Twice a week, Lewis bangs out the session after his quad or hamstring workout. He emphasizes the importance of stretching calves before diving into the workout, because once you get started, there’s no turning back.

All of the movements in the workout are meant to stress the gastrocnemius muscle as opposed to the soleus, which lies beneath. Straight-leg calf raises lead to gastrocnemius growth; bent-leg raises hit the soleus.

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