Here’s day four of the big, fat workout — chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Those of you glued to this blog (ha!) might find this entry peculiar. Chest, shoulders, and triceps, again? Didn’t we see this movie already?
Here’s the deal.
In strength programs, I tend to keep things simple. Vertical and/or horizontal pushing and pulling days, squat and deadlift-based days (or something similar, depending on the goal and the number of training days).
It’s hardly fancy, but the hallmark of a good strength training program is consistent loading in the big lifts. And until you reach an appreciable level of strength, a simple program is by far the best approach.
So for basic strength, programs like Starting Strength and the 5/3/1 variations are more than enough for most guys. Now once you get quite strong, sure, more advanced templates like Westside or Sheiko may be applicable, but don’t reach for them if you don’t need to. And if you do need them, odds are someone much stronger will tell you.
Hypertrophy is a slightly different animal. While progressive overload (i.e., adding weight) is a key driver in making a muscle bigger, techniques that elicit what hypertrophy expert Dr. Brad Schoenfeld calls “exercise induced metabolic stress” may play a significant role as well.
According to Dr. S, metabolic stress is enhanced during resistance training protocols that use moderate to higher repetitions and shorter rest intervals. In other words, classic bodybuilding training — the stuff many “smart” lifters today scoff at and call “pump art.”
So when setting up a hypertrophy program, once I program in the basic movement planes, I add volume and intensity techniques to areas I really want to bring up. This is a form of specialization training, and the key is to pick just one or two parts per training program — any more can overtax the body and negates the concept of specialization.
Furthermore, if I can, I also like to add an extra training day that focuses on these targeted “weak points.”
As a personal example, I’d like to get more out of my shoulders and triceps. So in this program I hit them (along with chest) twice per week, using a variety of exercises, rep ranges, and metabolic stress-friendly intensity techniques.
So the overall split looks like:
Day 1) Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Heavier, slower — as you may recall, I did stuff like chain presses here, eccentric-focused flyes, triceps dips, etc.)
Day 2) Legs (Squat-based)
Day 3 Off
Day 4) Back & Biceps
Day 5) Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Pump day — See below)
Day 6) Legs (Posterior chain-based)
Day 7) Off
And here’s what it looked like.
A1) Incline 1 – 1/4 DB Press — 4 x 8-10. One of my favourite upper pec exercises, this basically doubles the time under tension at the point when the pecs are working hardest.
Hold a pair of dumbbells with a semi-supinated (palms facing together) grip and press to lockout. Lower to chest level and pause, then press about a quarter of the way back up. Pause at this spot and lower the dumbbells to the bottom again, then press all the way up to lockout. That’s one painful rep.
Rest 20 seconds
A2) Incline Squeeze Press — 4 x 10-12. I admit I jumped on the squeeze press bandwagon after seeing colleagues John Meadows and John Romaniello programming them. I find it helps establish a “mind-muscle” connection, and performing them after a pressing exercise as a form of “post-exhaustion” makes for a helluva chest pump.
Set-up is similar to an incline DB press except keep the dumbbells in contact with each other the entire time (palms facing), and squeeze them together as hard as possible using just the pecs.
B) Hammer Strength Chest Press — 3 x 30, 20, 15. I stole this rep-scheme from Steve Holman, editor of Iron Man magazine and it quickly became a favourite.
The older I get, the more I find I benefit from occasional bouts of very high-rep work. It’s not only very “joint friendly,” it also gives an awesome pump and is very easy to recover from, something those 8 sets of 2 programs fail to appreciate.
This exercise is simple — hop on the Hammer chest press (sunglasses and a fanny pack strictly optional) and bang out 30 reps using a relatively light weight. Keep constant tension on the muscle — no lockout. Rest 45 seconds and bang out 20 more reps, then rest another 45 seconds and do a final 15. If you can hit all those reps without quitting then the weight is too light.
C1) Lean-away lateral raise — 3 x 8-10. Grab a sturdy piece of equipment with your free hand to brace yourself and lean away at about a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in the other hand and perform single-arm lateral raises, bringing the dumbbell to in line with the shoulder. Keep the arm as straight as possible.
Rest 10 seconds.
C2) Single-Arm DB Lateral Raise –3 x 10-12. Standing normally (feet shoulder width apart, no lean) and perform a lateral raise with the arm slightly bent (the bend makes the exercise easier).
Rest 10 seconds.
C3) Single-arm cable lateral raise — 3 x 12-15. Set a handle to a low pulley station and perform single-arm lateral raises. Keep the weight light and go for broke. Feel free to turn this into a drop set if you’re so inclined.
D) Machine Shoulder Press — 3 x 30, 20, 15. Pick any shoulder press machine and put on a weight you can easily do 30 reps with. Do the 30/20/15 protocol as written above. Welcome to Pump City — population, you!
E) Rope Triceps Pullover — 4 x 8-10 Another Gironda classic, this is basically a rope triceps extension with elbows supported and an exaggerated stretch. The best triceps exercises are typically ones that allow you to use the most weight or put the long head of the triceps under a significant stretch. This covers both, without massacring the elbows in the process. Hold for a second in the stretch position.
Rest 10 seconds.
F) Rope Triceps Pressdown — 3 x 30, 20, 15. No need for explaining here. Think about pulling the rope apart in the bottom position and holding the contraction for a one-count.
That’s it. Up next, final day — the posterior chain!
For more information on the very smart king of hypertrophy, Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, check out www.lookgreatnaked.com