Flex Lewis, a Welsh bodybuilder who’s obtained five Mr. Olympia titles, is known by the title of being a five-time champion. One of his greatest powers is his 212 physique, which is widely perceived as the best in the world. Having started his bodybuilding journey at the age of 12, James used plastic weights made at home to practice. James then switched from bodybuilding to sports, especially rugby. As a consequence of his flexibility, he earned the nickname “Flex.” and was able to avoid blocks.
In order to improve his rugby talents, he started training in the gym at the age of 15 in order to gain more size and strength. In the end, the process of gaining muscle mass “captivated” the youngster so much that he determined to give up Rugby, and instead, focus on bodybuilding. This pushed James to become a serious bodybuilder. After walking on stage for the first time, he went on to win 28 contests, becoming one of the best bodybuilders from the UK.
We will explore what James “Flex” Lewis would include in his diet plan to build a strong physique. Moreover, he works out quite well and we would be interested in his workout regime too. Make sure to stay tuned to learn all about his routines and probably you will be able to ascertain how he got to where he is today.
Flex Lewis Body Statistics
- Birth Year: 1983
- Birth Date: November 15
- Height: 5’5″ (165cm)
- Weight: 225 – 235lbs (102.1 – 106.6kg)
- Chest: 54 inches
- Biceps: 22 inches
- Waist: 31 inches
Flex Lewis Awards and Achievements
- 2016 Mr. Olympia Weekend Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2015 Mr. Olympia Weekend Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro, 212 1st Place
- 2015 IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2014 IFBB San Marino Pro: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2014 EVL’s Prague Pro 212 Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2014 IFBB Korea Grand Prix 212: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2014 Mr. Olympia Weekend Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2014 IFBB Arnold Sports Festival: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2013 EVL’s Prague Pro 212 Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2013 Mr. Olympia Weekend Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2012 EVL’s Prague Pro 212 Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2012 British Grand Prix 212 Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2012 Mr. Olympia Weekend Bodybuilding: IFBB Pro 212, 1st Place
- 2011 Arnold Classic Europe Men’s Bodybuilding: Pro Men, 5th Place
- 2011 Mr. Olympia Weekend Men 202: Open, 2nd Place
- 2011 New York Pro Championships Men’s 202: Men’s 202 Class, 2nd Place
- 2011 Mr. Europe Grand Prix Men’s Open: Men’s Open Lis, 3rd Place
- 2011 IFBB British Grand Prix Men’s 202: Men’s 202 List, 1st Place
- 2009 IFBB Atlantic City Pro 202 Division, 1st Place
- 2009 IFBB 202 Challenge (Mr. Olympia) 202 Division, 5th Place
- 2008 Europa Pro Overall Division, 7th Place
- 2008 Europa Pro 202 Division, 1st Place
- 2008 Tampa Pro Open Division, 7th Place
- Amateur Competition History: 2007 British Nationals (Earned Pro Card) Overall Division, 1st Place
- 2006 Mr. Wales U90, Overall U90 Division, 1st Place
- 2006 Mr. Britain U90 Division, 1st Place
- 2004 Nabba Mr. Universe, 1st Place
- 2004 EFBB Jr. Mr. Britain, 1st Place
- 2004 EFBB Jr. Mr. Wales, 1st Place
- 2004 Nabba Mr. Europe, 1st Place
- 2004 Nabba Jr. Mr. Britain, 1st Place
- 2004 Nabba Mr. Wales, 1st Place
- 2003 EFBB Jr. Mr. Britain, 1st Place
- 2003 EFBB Novice Mr. Wales, 1st Place
- 2003 EFBB Jr. Mr. Wales, 1st Place
Flex Lewis Workout Routine
Training with Plastic Weights
At the age of 12, James “Flex” Lewis became interested in bodybuilding after finding a book full of pictures of Tom Platz. James appreciated Tom’s physique, particularly his legs, so much that he said he hoped one day to have a similar physique.
James was also encouraged to start training by Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most legendary bodybuilders of his time.
His bodybuilding journey had a decent start – he would train with plastic weights at home at night when his parents were asleep. However, his parents had barred him from lifting weights. It was so “enthralling” to James that he continued training even when his parents advised him not to.
A New Environment
He walked into a gym for the first time at the age of 15 and began training more seriously. As a trainee, he used a basic weight set at home, but the weights and machines he saw at the gym were far more advanced. After adapting to his new training environment, he took a couple of months.
As a rugby player, James originally started training to develop his performance. The results he saw from weightlifting, however, led him to make bodybuilding his main priority afterward.
Taking Advantage of his Potential
When he was exercising at a gym, James met a bodybuilder named Steve Naylor. Steve told James he would thrive in the sport of bodybuilding, suggesting that he should compete on stage.
As a result of Steve’s advice, James started preparing for his first bodybuilding contest. The two of them practiced together for a year before James competed in his first show – the Junior Mr. Wales. James won both the overall and weight class prizes at that show.
Neil Hill is an IFBB bodybuilder who James also met at the competition. He required Neil’s help to prepare for his next competition, which was only four weeks away. James was able to conquer his second competition in a row – this time he was honored 2003 EFBB Jr., Mr. Britain.
After that, James won every program he entered for the next four years, including the 2007 British Nationals. This was the success that earned him his Pro Card. James became known as a “force of nature” in the UK bodybuilding scene as a consequence of these efforts.
Moving to the Bigger Stage
James moved to the United States after making a title for himself in the UK in pursuance of even bigger challenges, such as Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic.
James did not place 1st in a show for the first time since he commenced competing; he achieved 7th at the 2008 Tampa Pro. Despite this, James didn’t seem disturbed by it. As he continued to work hard in the gym, he ultimately got back on his winning flare.
Beginning in 2009, he was named the IFBB Atlantic City Pro 202 Division champion, 2012 EVL’s Prague Pro 212 Bodybuilding champion, and the 2012 Mr. Olympia 212 Champion.
Pinnacle of Bodybuilding
A spectacular 28 bodybuilding titles had been collected by James by 2016. He had five Mr. Olympia 212 titles to his name. The fact that James ruled on the Olympia stage has led to his reputation as one of the world’s greatest “212 bodybuilders.”
A strict training program is produced by Flex’s trainer, Neil Hill. Cycling repetition ranges, weight, training frequency, and other factors necessary for muscle stimulation are covered in the program. “Never let your body adapt,” suggests James “Flex.”
The off-season needs him to train six days a week. His rehearsals last anywhere between 1.5 and 3 hours.
James Flex Lewis’ Workout Routine
- Sunday – Shoulders
- Monday – Back
- Tuesday – Biceps
- Wednesday – Chest
- Thursday – Hamstrings and Calves
- Friday – Triceps
- Saturday – Rest Day
- Sunday – Legs
- Monday – Repeat Cycle
Chest and Triceps Workout
- Incline Smith Machine Press (warmup) 4 sets of 15-20 reps
- Incline Smith Machine Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Seated Machine Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Incline Flye, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Seated EZ-curl Bar Extension (warmup), 4 sets of 15-20 reps
- Seated EZ-curl Bar Extension, 3 sets of 8–12 reps
- V-Bar Cable Pushdown, 3 sets of 8–12 reps
- Kickback, 3 sets of 8–12 reps
Here is everything that Flex Lewis does in his workout routine. As a component of his workout routine, he also follows a few tips and tricks, which help him realize his workout goals every time he hits the gym. We shall take a glance at the tips that he has to give to his fans and people who might look up to him in the following section!
Flex Lewis Workout Tips and Tricks
As part of this segment, we will discuss Flex Lewis’ workout tips that he presents us so that he can be more efficient when he is working out. While he makes sure to stay compatible, being ready for the gym takes a lot of hard work and patience. In this section, you will read how to equip for the gym. Keep learning.
- Change Style. As part of James’s workout routine, he always adjusts it to keep his muscles growing at a steady rate.
- Neglect, Subject, Perfect. According to this principle, you should pay more consideration to the weak parts of the body than the powerful ones.
- Rethink Hardcore. James doesn’t train according to conventional methods. Rather, he produces his own rules and does what creates the most results for his physique.
- Giant Strides. Giant Strides. Paces. Not tri-sets, not super-sets, but large sets. It is a set of five exercises that James does on a consistent basis. An example of a triceps giant-set consists of these exercises; EZ-bar pushdowns, overhead rope tricep extensions, wide-grip rope pushdowns, one-hand pushdowns, and narrow-grip rope pushdowns.
- Take the Highway. The choice of James is for high repetitions over low repetitions. He would preferably do 15-20 repetitions with a lighter weight than 3 repetitions with a heavyweight.
- Be Unique. Developing new exercises and techniques is always a great idea according to the Welsh bodybuilder. Keeping up with the times in the gym is imperative to long-term growth, according to him.
- Pushers. James believes that working out with a partner always helps. This is particularly true in situations when he needs an extra push to go through the last few reps.
- Turn up the Heat. James recommends training with absolute intensity according to this principle. Eventually, he found the most practical way to do this was to perform at least one HIT workout every week and to slowly increase the number of workouts per week over time.
- M-2-M. According to James, beginners’ number one preference should be learning how to reach the best possible “mind-muscle connection.”
- In the End. “Never neglect anything.” James makes sure to pay regard to the smallest details. Those little features make the difference between good and great, he tells.
This has all been about Flex Lewis’ workout tips that he provides to his family, friends, and people who want to follow his fitness drive. The next part of this article will discuss the diet plan that has brought him to the other side of the domain where people adore him for his strength.
Flex Lewis Diet Plan
As an element of his diet, James had to cook, prepare, and consume six meals a day to strengthen his five-time Olympia-winning physique.
It does not matter if it’s off-season or not; he consumes clean year-round. Green vegetables, lean meats, eggs, nuts, healthy butter, and avocados are a few of the foods that can be found in his kitchen. The carbs he absorbs come from complex sources, such as oats, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. They give him constant energy, which is indispensable for his exhaustive workouts.
Daily Meal Plan
- 2 whole eggs and 10 egg whites
- 4 oz dry-weight oatmeal
- 1 slice wholegrain toast with peanut butter
- 3 oz of Greek yogurt
- 2 oz mixed berries
20 min after 1st Meal
- 1 serving of fat-burner tablets
- 2g omega-3 fish oils
- vitamin B complex
- 3 oz dry weight, whole grain brown rice
- 8–9 oz fish
- 3 oz greens
10–15 min before 3rd Meal:
- 1 serving digestive enzymes
- 9–10 oz sweet potato,
- 8 oz ground turkey
- 3 oz greens
- 2–3 oz fresh pineapple
45 min before training:
- 1–1.5 scoops of pre-workout
- 15–20 min before training:
- 1 Scoop Amino Acids
- ½ scoop fast-acting carbs supplement
- 1 serving fat burner
- ½ scoop BCAAs
- ½ scoop BCAAs
- 1-1.5 scoops fast-acting carbs supplement
- 40–45g of whey isolate
10–15 min before the 4th meal:
- 1 serving digestive enzymes
- 9–10 oz baked potato
- 8oz steak, 1 whole egg
- 3 oz greens
- 5–6 oz dry-weight, wholegrain rice
- 9 oz salmon
- 3 oz greens
- 1 slice whole-grain toast
- 100g low-fat cottage cheese
- 1tbsp natural peanut butter
- 1.5 scoops of Casein protein
Flex follows that diet plan during the whole day. His diet plan isn’t perfect, and he keeps on switching his meals here and there according to his requirements. He remains within the same macronutrient range, however. We will also be reviewing some nutritional and supplement intakes that he would incorporate into his diet in the adjoining section.
Flex Lewis Nutrition and Supplements
Flex Lewis utilizes CBD products from a renowned company called cbdMD, whose purpose is to boost the quality of life for athletes and everyday people by bringing CBD learning, awareness, and accessibility to everyone. The strong effects of CBD can be seen in many different ways, including soothing muscle pain, reducing anxiety and depression, inciting better sleep, maintaining your immune system, and more.
Flex is a proficient bodybuilder who knows what he needs to not only grow muscle but also restore it. You can put a lot of stress on your body when bodybuilding, particularly those vital joints. The type of muscle you build can be swayed by how you train, but how much muscle you can develop depends on how instantly you recover. Flex can maximize his own recovery with cbdMD since it embraces all these demands.
The Supplements of Flex Lewis can be obtained below:
- Fat-burner tablets
- Omega-3 fish oils
- Vitamin B complex
- Serving digestive enzymes
- Amino Acids
- Fast-acting carbs supplement
Flex Lewis Fitness Interview
Q: You’ve made a lot of improvements to your back. Do you consider it to be a strong point now?
Flex Lewis: I never considered my back as a strong point and I knew that if I was ever going to be a great bodybuilder, my back would have to improve. Every great Mr. Olympia champion has had tremendous back development. The same goes for reigning Olympia 202 Showdown champion Kevin English. My goal is to be the best 202 bodybuilders in the world, and if I’m going to beat Kevin I need to bring a wide, thick back to Vegas this year.
I started to think how guys like Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman had built their backs and I saw that I got away from a lot of the basics. The simple, old-school moves with the knowledge and techniques I’ve learned over the years. The result was beyond my expectation and I’m nowhere near done.
Q: Let’s get right into your back workout. Why do you start out with pulldowns instead of a rowing exercise?
The pulldown serves as both a warm-up and a great first exercise. I can work hard enough to break down muscle, but also stay controlled and stretch out on each rep. I pause at the top of each rep until I feel a deep stretch in my lats. This gets my back, arms, and shoulders loose and ready for the work to come.
I’ve always felt that rows have more potential for injury and require much more warming up. When it comes to rows, the body positions can be vulnerable and the weights are usually heavy. Instead of doing countless sets of rows to get ready for my working sets, I can do a pulldown and get warm while stimulating growth. My form on pulldowns has to be impeccable and I never worry about how much weight I’m using. As long as I can feel a deep squeeze, I know it’s heavy enough.
Q: Explain that weird leaning pull-down you did. What does that work?
I got this trick from Neil Hill, my coach and one of my best friends. Neil is always looking for new ways to stimulate the muscles and create more detail in my physique. By angling the bar and leaning to one side, I’m isolating the one side of my lats. I get a really intense squeeze on the side I’m leaning toward and I can feel the blood pumping into the muscle.
I use this technique along with traditional pull-downs – never one or the other. Sometimes I alternate this with the traditional style and sometimes I just add a couple of sets of these after 3-4 sets of traditional pull-downs. This is a great move for partial reps [more on that later].
Q: You’ve got a unique way of doing the close-grip pull-down – explain what you were doing.
This is another one of Neil’s creations and I love it. He keeps finding new ways for me to train muscles that I’ve never felt before. I don’t know what to call this one, but here’s how I do it.
I lay down with my feet up on the support bar. My butt is against the pad that you typically slide your legs under and my body is parallel to the ground. It’s like a low pulley row that is tipped on its back.
First, I can’t go too heavy or I’d never be able to stay in the correct position. The move requires a lot of concentration to squeeze the weight without swinging my body. I get a lot of versatility with this move: I can pull the bar into my sternum for mid and upper back or lower into my belly button for lower lats. With this exercise, I squeeze very hard and focus on etching in new detail in my back.
Q: I’ve noticed you frequently use partial reps and contractions during your sets. What is the benefit of these and how do you work them in?
This is one of the biggest reasons my back improved so much this year. Partial reps in the contracted position [close to the body] shock the muscle by keeping it under constant tension. I’m able to squeeze harder and harder with each rep.
We always use partial reps and full reps in the same set; it’s never just one or the other. For the back, partials work great on pull-downs, low pulley rows, and the pull-over machine. Typically, I start with 10 full-range reps, and then I do about five partial reps squeezing hard, followed by a stretch at the top for a couple of seconds. If I have anything left, I force out a few more full-range reps to failure.
Try this and your back will be more pumped and fatigued than you’ve ever experienced.
Q: The pullover machine is a staple in your back workout. What does this machine do that you can’t get from another move?
I’m very fortunate to have the old-school Nautilus pullover machine at Olympus Gym in Tennessee where I train each day. I remember seeing Dorian use this machine back home. This movement is unlike anything else you do for your back and it works muscles that you don’t use in a row or pulldown. The stretch at the top is insane and it feels like my lats are getting ripped out.
Then the squeeze at the bottom of the rep is a unique position and nothing else gives me this feeling.
I have a unique way of doing pullovers that involves partial reps at three separate stages of the movement. My back is exploding when the “three-stage” set is over.
I’ve tried other machines and variations such as the dumbbell pullover, but nothing gives me the same feeling that I get from the Nautilus pullover. It’s tough to find this machine in gyms across the country, so if you see one give it a try. There are some other good versions of the pullover, such as the one I used in this workout, but the Nautilus will always be my favorite.
Q: Walk us through a set of your three-stage reps on the pullover machine.
I start with about 12 full-range reps, and after the last full rep, my partner helps me get the bar to sternum height. Here I do 6-8 small pumps moving about an inch or so [have your partner make sure you don’t go further up]. Each of the small reps is really just a continuous squeeze. Then my partner pushes the bar to the next point, about three inches down and I repeat the pulses. Finally, we get the bar down to the bottom of the rep [belt height] and once again pulse for 6-8 reps. If I have anything left, I get back to the top of the movement and hold in the stretch position for a few seconds.
Q: You’ve moved on to wide-grip pullups, and most guys couldn’t get a single rep this late in the workout. Why have you slotted them three-fourths of the way through?
I don’t do the typical up-and-down reps you see every day in the gym. When I do it like that, it’s too much like the pulldown I start with. Here’s my method.
I pull myself up to chin height and hold that position for 2-3 seconds. While I’m at the top, I try to throw my lats out as hard as I can. It takes some practice to feel it out, but once your mind gets connected with your lats you can actually feel yourself getting wider! I slowly lower myself and hold the stretch position for two seconds until I feel a burn in my lats.
I can only do a few reps this way, but when I get done my back is toast! This is also a good chance to refocus on the mind-muscle connection before I get to the heavy rows that follow. I make sure I’m loose and locked in before I load up the bar and row.
Q: T-bar rows looked pretty basic. Is this where you just focus on pulling some big weights?
Nothing fancy here – straight sets of 10-15 reps and heavy-ass weights!
As I keep saying, everything I do is about strict form and safety. Neil and I have been careful to avoid injuries and plan to keep it that way for a long time.
That said, T-bar rows are a move where I can safely pile on the weight and force my back to grow from the poundage I’m moving.
I keep my upper body just above 90 degrees and let the weight hang down to just above the floor. Then I drive my elbows back and bring the handle to my belly button. Each rep gets squeezed for a moment at the top – this is where I really feel it and know I’m growing.
A trick I learned recently is to use 35-pound plates for T-bar rows. They are smaller in diameter, so I can get a deeper squeeze at the top and a better stretch at the bottom.
Q: What about the traditional barbell row? We didn’t see those and they are definitely one of the old-school basics for a big back.
No two back workouts of mine are ever the same. I often alternate between T-bar rows and barbell rows, and some weeks I do both in the same workout. It keeps my body in constant shock and that translates to more muscle.
Barbell rows are one of my old-school staples. My form and rep range is similar to T-bar rows. This is another move where I keep everything basic. Some weeks I use an overhand grip and some weeks underhand – the way Dorian used to do them – which targets more of the lower lats.
Q: We went to the seated pulley row and your eyes got as wide as your back. There must be something special about this exercise. What is it?
This has been one of my favorite moves since I started bodybuilding as a teen. I get a great squeeze and I can feel all the muscles in my back popping out! So many people do this exercise with sloppy form and just swing the weight back and forth. They never actually use their backs to lift the weight. When I do it, I pretend I’m sitting in a chair with a straight back so I can’t lean past 90 degrees. At the start of each rep, I lean forward slightly and stretch my lats out as far they will go. As I pull the weight and squeeze my back, I think of my body meeting the weight and not pulling the weight back to my body. This mindset keeps me in the upright position that allows for maximum contraction.
This is another great exercise for the partial-rep technique I previously described. I always do these near the end of the workout. Trying to squeeze out the half reps is a bitch but the pump is worth it!
Q: As we wrap this up, I noticed you didn’t do any deadlifts (one of the big three). Do you ever deadlift?
I don’t do traditional deadlifts anymore; I feel that pulling off the ground is too risky for injury. Instead, I do rack deadlifts and they are a favorite of mine. I’m always going to be a powerlifter at heart and I love the feeling of holding a ton of weight in my hands.
I look forward to the rack deads each week. During the offseason, I do them nearly every week at the end of my workout. Pre-contest, I still do rack deadlifts, but not every week. To perform the rack deadlifts, I set the safety bars in a power rack just below knee height. With my back straight [don’t round], I pull the weight until I’m in a standing position with my hips in line with my shoulders. Then I carefully lower to the start position, bringing the weight to a dead stop. Don’t throw the weight down and bounce back up; if you’re doing that, you’re taking the tension off your back muscles.
I save these for last in my workout – when every inch of my body is warmed up and pre-fatigued. If I did these at the start of the training session, I’d be too eager to go really heavy and put myself at risk for injury. I keep the reps high [15-20] to further keep me in a safe mindset using a weight my body knows it can handle. Don’t get me wrong, safe doesn’t mean light. When I get to the end of a 15-to-20 rep set, I’m gasping for air and the pump is insane.