With great conquests come even greater expectations. For Shawn Rhoden, a top-four finisher in the last two Mr. Olympia tilts, and Flex Lewis, two-time defending Olympia 212 Showdown champ, that means a 2014 for the record books. Here are the workouts that’ll help them shoulder that mighty load.
Bringing these two together, then, in a workout for the FLEX cameras was fitting. It also proved interesting to us fly-on-the-wall scribes, since another thing they happen to have in common is a cerebral approach to training. They’re inquisitive and intensely focused. (As Lewis puts it, “When I step into the gym, I’m going to war.”) Here’s what happened when they traded reps and revelations about all things iron a day after the 2012 Olympia.
1 | LATERAL RAISE
“I know a lot of guys will go right into a press, but lateral raises are a better warmup for me,” Rhoden says of the exercise that always leads of his delt routine. “You may be able to lift more if you do the press fIrst, but I know I’m never going to be the strongest guy in the gym. That’s not important—for me, it’s always about putting the muscles under tension.”
Rhoden will start with a 25-pound dumbbell for 20 reps, working his way down the rack to the 65s over the course of four sets as he dials back to 10–12 reps. “Charles [Glass, Rhoden’s renowned trainer] preaches concentrating, squeezing, increasing the blood flow,” Rhoden says. “We also keep my arms back at my hamstrings to start, and leading with my pinkie up and thumb down as I raise the weights, like I’m pouring out a jug, stopping when my arms are just above parallel to the floor.”
As for Lewis, he’ll also begin his workout with laterals, although he’ll often opt for the seated raise machine. “I’ll start with the machine, but I don’t always fInish there,” he admits. “If I’m not having that mind-muscle connection on that particular day, I’ll stop and move to dumbbells.”
No matter which implement of torture is chosen, though, he’ll add a devious twist to the end of his working sets. “After 12–15 reps,” Lewis explains, “I’ll do 3–5 reps that include static holds—at the top of each rep, I hold the contraction for two seconds, really pushing the squeeze.”
Static holds make appearances throughout Lewis’ training week, from delts to back to legs, and especially to his chest, which he targeted relentlessly in the lead-up to the 2013 Olympia. “I’ve gotten into static holds the last couple of years primarily because I feel a great benefIt,” he says. “For whatever reason, they hit fIbers not reached through traditional reps. When I do static holds, I’ll have DOMS [delayedonset muscle soreness] the second or third day that I don’t usually feel otherwise.”
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