The Road To '24 has made it round to its second training block and, over the coming weeks, I'm going to be going through each and every session on my plan via Instagram and, in greater detail, on this blog. Kicking it off today with Push A!
Upright Cable Chest Press
Warm-Up Sets: Unlimited - Working Sets: 1x 6-8 & 1x 10-12
This is one of my favourite exercises. It was something I started to incorporate into my training when I was last bulking, and this was a period of time when my chest grew a hell of a lot, and I know for a fact this exercise played a big part in that.
Set Up: This exercise is super easy to set up. We've go the bench at 90 degrees, placed directly down the middle of the cable machine. I've then got the pulleys set up to just below shoulder height (there's an important reason for this, but I'll get on to that in a second). As you can see in the photos above, I'm using a daisy chain in order to increase the length of the cable, This makes it a million times easier for me to get into the actual exercise, and stops me from entering a compromised position.
My Personal Cues: In terms of my body, I'm a believer in keeping the shoulder blades squeezed together throughout the entirety of a chest press. I believe this is the best way to create and stability and remain safe. Some coaches may say otherwise (which is fine, we're all entitled to our own opinions) but I always practice what I preach!
Path Of Motion: The reason I place the pulleys just below shoulder height, is so I can create an upward arc. This means my elbows are going to finish higher than they started. Not only have I created an upward arc, I'm also looking to create a converging path of motion. This means I'm looking to bring my hands closer together at the top of the movement. Both of these patterns of movement are what your body will naturally want to do when pushing, so we're simply looking to compliment this.
Intensity: The first set is naturally going to be heavier than the first, as I'm looking to hit failure in a lower rep range. However, even when the weight is lessened for the second "back off" set, we're still chasing muscular failure.
Cuffed Costal Fly
Warm-Up Sets: 1 - Working Sets: 2x 12-15
I very, very rarely tell somebody not to do a movement. "There's no such thing as a bad exercise, just bad programming or technique" which, to a certain extent, is very true. However, in terms of the risk to reward ratio, I'm not a fan of dumbbell flys. However, transfer your flys over to the cable machine, and we're starting to make things a little better. Cue the cuffed costal fly.
Set Up: For this exercise, I've got a bench set up to 90 degrees down the middle of the cable machine, pulled slightly forwards so I get tension on the cables, even in a lengthened position. I'm once again using the daisy chains to help me get in and out of the exercise in a safer manor. I'm positioning the pulleys just below shoulder height, so as I fly in I'm able to keep the path of the cable around the mid of my chest.
My Personal Cues: With a fly, I'm not looking to lock my shoulder blades back and/ or down, I'm quite happy to allow them to move naturally. My internal cue is to think about driving the insides of my elbows together, not my hands. This instantly improves the connection I'm able to make with my chest.
Intensity: I'm not a fan of heavy flys that would require you to hit below 10 reps. I'm still taking both sets here to muscular failure, I'm just not going to excessively load this exercise.
Lying Cuffed Lateral Raises
Warm-Up Sets: 1 - Working Sets: 2x 12-15
This exercise is great, as it allows me to match up the strength and resistance profiles. The strength profile is me. As my arm abducts (comes away from the mid line of my body), I get weaker. The resistance profile is the machine and, as I bring the cable out to my sides, the cable gets closer to my shoulder, so the weight will start to feel lighter. As you can see, this is matching the two profiles up nicely.
Set Up: I've got my bench flat so I'm looking up to the ceiling, with the pulleys set down at ground level. I'm placing the right cuff on my left wrist, and the left cuff on my right wrist, so the two cables crossover.
My Personal Cues: I'm thinking about keeping a slight bend in my elbows, as I drive my elbows are to my sides. I'm holding for a second at the top, and then making sure my eccentric is really slow and controlled. I'm once again not trying to keep my shoulder blades pressed down or back, I'm allowing them to move as they wish.
Intensity: Again, I'm not a fan of going super heavy here. I've tried it, and it led to niggles more than anything else. From now on I'm opting for slightly higher rep sets, but still to muscular failure.
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Working Sets: 2x 12-15
This exercise is often done badly (sorry, it had to be said). The problem is people don't understand what is happening as they go into abduction (answer: they get weaker), which they then combine with weight that is too heavy. Combined together this creates a crappy exercise for the lateral delts, but a great exercise for the traps (aka not what we're looking to challenge here). However, we're going to change that!
Set Up: I've got my bench set up at 90 degrees... and a dumbbell in each hand. Completed it mate.
My Personal Cues: I'm actually going to lean my chest slightly forwards. This is going to disadvantage the traps. As I bring my elbows out to my sides, I'm looking to finish with my fists facing slightly forwards. This is actually a far more naturally path for your delts. You don't need to go higher than shoulder height.
Intensity: Set one is used to target the shortened range. This is where my arms are abducted out to my sides, an I am weakest. Therefore, I'm going to pick a lighter weight. This weight is still going to bring me to muscular failure in the 12-15 rep range but, as soon as I can't lift my arms out and hold them at shoulder height, the set is done. For extra intensity I'm also holding for around 1-2 seconds at the top of each rep. For guidance, I'm using 5kg in each hand. If you're having to swing for this set, you're being a twat. Sorry not sorry.
On to the second set. This is where we're going to look to train the lengthened range. For this I'm going to slightly increase my weight. This weight is going to be difficult for me to fully abduct, but I can do it for the first half of the set. At around 8 reps, I'm now not able to get my arms fully out to my sides without compensating (swinging), so I'm simply only going as high as I can without doing this. The set should finish around the 12-15 rep mark, but by this point the weight should hardly be moving. For guidance I used 7.5kg dumbbells in each hand.
Single Arm Cable Skullcrushers
Working Sets: 2x 12 each side
I'm transferring this exercise on to the cable machine so I'm once again able to better match the profiles, and also have a constant challenge to the elbow throughout. If you use a dumbbell, you have no challenge at all to the tricep when you're at your strongest, and a lot of challenge when you're at your weakest.
Set Up: Flat bench pulled up to one side of the machine. The pulley should be below head height when you're lying face up on the bench. I've attached a D handle to make the grasping on to the cable a little easier, but it's not essential if you don't have one.
My Personal Cues: For my lifting side, it's crucial I'm not allowing there to be any movement in my shoulder, and that I'm also only going through flexion and extension of the elbow, nothing more. I'm using my non-lifting hand to push against my elbow, in order to create some counter force.
Intensity: Muscular failure on both sets. If I need to do a few assisted reps towards the end of the sets I will do, but these are controlled and not used to boost my ego.
Dual Cable Pushdowns
Working Sets: 2x 12
Another great exercise where we get a nice congruent profile. As we push down and extend from the elbow, the cables get closer to us, so the weight will "drop-off", giving us a reduction in weight in our weaker area.
Set Up: Both sides of the machine are set so the pulleys are at the top. You'll need to hold on to the actual cables for this, adding handles makes it clunky in my opinion.
My Personal Cues: The first thing to check is my shoulder blades as they need to remain pressed down throughout. You don't want to shrug the weight up and down. Second is my elbows. They're not going to be able to stay locked against my sides for this, due to positioning, but they need to remain stationary. Flexion and extension should be the only movements they make.
Intensity: Again, muscular failure. A couple of reps in the lengthened range at the end of the set is fine, but if the main bulk of the set is just half arsed reps, drop the damn weight.
Incline Dumbbell & Banded Press - Parallel
Working Sets: 1x 12-15
On to the home stretch. I'm using this to eek out the last reps from my chest, delts and triceps. A parallel press is a great finisher, and it simply means your hands are finishing in the same place as they started. This reduced path is great when fatigue is high. The band is going to give me extra tension at the top where I'm strongest, and leave me with just the weight of the dumbbell at the bottom.
Set Up: I've got my bench set to a slight incline, a dumbbell in each hand, and the band placed around my back with an end in each hand under the dumbbells.
My Personal Cues: Again, with a chest press I'm going to keep my shoulder blades squeezed together through out. I'm looking to keep my hands slightly internally rotated, and I'm pushing up, but not in.
Intensity: The rep scheme is set for me to try and fail around the 12-15 rep mark, but this is really a case of go until you can't move anymore. You do not need to go heavy on the dumbbells. All you're doing is giving your chest too much weight in the shortened range. For reference, I'm literally using a set of 12.5kg each side. It does not take much.
So there you have it! My full Push A session for block number 2. Feel free to give this a go and let me know how you get on!