There is no best chest exercise, leg movement or ab shredder. It’s all relative. You may be performing the “right movements”, your form may even be decent, but a quality routine is created by the sum of its parts. Take for example last week’s Chest and Legs Routine. Although this isn’t a commonly seen workout, it can be very effective depending on how it’s laid out. This was the session:
DB Incline Press –4x10
Flat Flyes – 3x15
A1) Dips 3x12
A2) Push-Ups 3xfailure
Hack Squats 1x10 @ 50% 1x10 @55% 1x10 @60% 1x10@ 70%
High Box Step Ups 3x12
B1) Romanian Deadlift 3x8
B2) Plié Squat 3x15
Some of the exercises may not look conventional. So, why were these selected?
DB Incline Press: Replacing your barbell bench press for several weeks to add some variety to your chest routine can inspire growth. You may even see strength increases when you return to your traditional bench. These can be a great movement to break through a plateau and improve imbalances you may have.
Flat Flyes: This is used as a synergistic or auxiliary movement of the primary DB incline press. You’ve just hammered the fibers of the pecs with a big compound lift. Now you’re performing a single joint movement utilizing the chest’s strongest/main function which is transverse flection of the shoulder joint (internally rotated). Using the succession of these movements at different angles is much more efficient than performing every type of bench press imagined.
Dips: This is another great mass builder. I’d recommend rest from your last set of flyes for about 2 minutes prior to performing dips. Vertical dips engage muscles that you won’t hit from only performing countless angled presses, such as traps, posterior and medial delts. This variation can help further stimulate hypertrophy.
Push Ups: Bodyweight movements by themselves may not add much mass but they are great for finishing off a workout/bodypart. Increased stabilization from these add a wealth of benefits to your routine.
Hack Squats: After the first half of your session, your upper body may feel tight. So, given the arm/shoulder position, a back squat may not be the most comfortable. Instead, try a traditional barbell hack squat. Note here the density of the movement is low. For many, this will be a brand new lift. Going hard and heavy the first workout after smashing chest is not the best idea. As was mentioned in Part 1 of this series, learn the skill first and after 4 weeks or so you can train at a higher density.
High Box Step Ups: Hack squats can destroy your quads, but to really hammer the VMO and glutes (2 keys to healthy knees), this movement is vital. Incorporating this exercise can improve the sweep of your quad and improve knee tracking when performing squats.
Romanian Deadlift: In this routine, the two primary movements for legs are Hack Squats and Romanian deadlifts while the other movements help shade-in the details. After performing High box Step Ups, the glutes are ready to rock. Proceeding with the Romanian Deadlift is a great way to pound the hamstrings. Because of the exercise choices above, the posterior chain still feel very strong and the lower back won’t be compromised.
Plié Squats: This is a favorite finisher from Renegade Founder John Davies. He says: The plié squat is one of the most effective hip and glute movements within the ‘iron game’ and perfectly suited to the most demanding training sessions. More frequently referenced with its barbell option, the sumo deadlift, the plié squat is a superb developer of the hips, glutes, the ‘sweep’ of the thighs, as well as assisting general hip mobility, all without considerable strain on the back. The combination of assisting hip mobility without the strain on the lower back makes the movement better suited than virtually any other squat variation as the ‘ultimate finisher’. For those who demand success, pair with walking lunges.
If you haven’t tried this routine already, give it ago. This month we will continue to shed light on program design and how to make the most out of your time in the gym. #BeUltimate
Prepared by Nik Ohanian and John Davies
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