Note: It is strongly recommended that a spotter be present when this workout is done. We are going to fail in some sets, and with free weights that can be dangerous. Play it safe. Injuries suck.
So without further delay, let’s begin.
StretchingStretching is always a key pre-workout activity that is going to help you in a number of ways. In this workout, we are going to focus on stretching out our chest and also our shoulders before we begin to stack on the weight.
For the purposes of this example routine, we will first work our chest and then move on to our shoulders. In some cases you would order the exercises differently, or even stagger between each muscle group. This type of fine tuning will come in handy once you are well on your way and comfortable with the routine. A separate article will go into more detail on that subject later.
Incline Bench PressThe first exercise we are doing is Incline Bench Press. This is first for a couple of reasons, but primarily because it is going to be one of the more demanding lifts of the workout. Begin your first set at a weight that allows you to complete 10-12 reps with good form and control with moderate strain toward the final reps. Spot your partner for his/her set, and then add more weight, roughly 20% would be a solid increase. So, if you did your first set with 100lbs. your second set should be at 120 lbs. and fall somewhere in the 8-10 rep range. For your third set, you will again raise the weight and go to failure.
Ideally this failure would occur in the 6-8 range, but may not.
Decline Dumbbell Bench PressNext is Decline Dumbbell Bench Press. This exercise is a variation of the pressing movement we just finished. The declined position will better target the lower portion of your chest. Additionally, by removing the Olympic bar from the movement, it will isolate each side of your chest. We are going for the same set and rep scheme here as we did with the incline bench press. So use your spotter to your advantage and push for that failure on the third set at around 6-8 reps.
Dumbbell FlyThe last chest exercise we will do on this particular workout is a Dumbbell Fly. This is going to target the center of chest primarily. At this point in the exercise your chest should already be very fatigued. If its not, I would suggest taking a careful look at the weight being used, as well as the rep scheme. You may not be working hard enough. For this exercise you can use the same rep scheme as the previous movements. However, since your chest should be pre-exhausted, you could also just move to the two working sets and skip the first set which would normally fall in the 10-12 range.
Some bodybuilders would say that this split does not include a flat pressing exercise and therefore does not fully incorporate the chest. It is my experience, however, that when the lower and upper portions of the chest are trained in isolation, the strength gain carries through to the entire pectoral muscle. It wouldn’t be out of the question to incorporate, for example, a 3-set of Flat Barbell Bench Press, but I don’t find it necessary.
So now that we are already exhausted, it’s time to grab a drink of water, shrug off the soreness and hit those deltoids. Nobody said today was going to be easy.
Dumbbell Shoulder PressFirst in line is the Dumbbell Shoulder Press. Three sets is the magic number here. First set should fall in the 10-12 range and should be moderately difficult. The second set is a working set with more weight and should land in the 8-10 range. As in our other final sets, this third should be to failure with heavier weight, and end around the 6-8 mark.
Side Lateral RaisesWith little rest between exercises we are going to move directly to Side Lateral Raises. This move is less about stacking on huge weight that it is about fully controlling the motion and really isolating the lateral deltoids. This exercise will play a big part in creating that rounded, prominent shoulder that we want. You can do this set two ways, the usual 12, 10, 8, with added weight. Or you can drop the weight substantially and do three sets all in the higher rep range of 15-20.
Bent Over Cable LateralsThe last exercise we are going to do today is going to be a finisher move that should take the rest of the energy we have left right out of us! This is called Bent Over Cable Laterals. With this exercise you can go back to our normal rep scheme and give it your all. You will feel the rear deltoids throbbing at the end of each set if you are isolating them properly. Focus on the movement, and put everything you’ve got into it.
Tomorrow should be a rest day, so take your shaking, sweating frame home and get some protein and rest.