Push it to the Next Level Training Session
Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Hi DF Fam! Goes without saying, there are countless ways to tailor each training session based on our current goals, body type, level of fitness, working around aches and injuries, ad infinitum. Sometimes there is a favorite movement I haven't done in a while so I throw it in for no other reason than I miss doing it. Whatever the case, there are certain general techniques and training principles that are incorporated into most of my workouts after years of training and discovering what does and does not work for me. No doubt many training plans will yield results to some extent. The trick is discovering which training scheme(s) work best for our individual factors and goals. All the while, remaining open to making minor tweaks or major adjustments when certain training techniques are no longer producing their desired results. Or when a different approach is likely to provide the same or better results in a more efficient manner. Having said that, my current training approach looks quite different than it did a year ago and I'm confident it will look different in various unforeseen ways in a year from now. I find this exciting as I seek to evolve in my training along with every major area of life. I'm going to share the training session I completed just a couple days ago and break down some of the reasons for my personal approach. Give all of it, some of it, or none of it a try. In my active lifestyle journey I have discovered identifying what does not suit me is just as important as discovering what does. Enjoy the journey of discovering and discarding as we seek to take our Body, Mind, and Spirit to the next level... and there is ALWAYS a Next Level!
I did this workout with just a little over an hour available till my gym's closing time. I implemented a few of my favorite intensity techniques to cram more muscle stimulation in given the time restraint. I don't recommend using them every session but they're at my disposal when needed.
I currently split my training sessions into "Push" and "Pull" days. Basically the Push session might consist of Chest and/or Shoulders and/or Triceps and/or Quads. The alternating Pull session would consist of the posterior chain (Traps, Lats, Upper & Middle Back, Hamstrings) and Biceps if they need some ancillary work . I'll usually focus on no more than a couple of body parts per session and hit the rest during the next scheduled Push or Pull day, respectively. I have found that splitting my sessions in this way has decreased joint pain (especially golfer's/tennis elbow discomfort) and allows for more frequent training sessions without consequence.
*All following Set and Rep schemes are approximate. I'm not going to call it when I have a couple more quality reps in the tank out of rigidly sticking to the prescribed numbers. Focus more on muscle stimulation feedback over completing an exact number of reps.
1) Seated Leg Extensions: 4 to 5 Sets with high rep scheme of 20, 15, 15, 12, 12. There has been some debate over the safety of this exercise for as long as I can remember. I usually do them to get primed for Squats and keep the reps high and the weight moderate focusing on the muscle >> mind connection above all else. I've never experienced any setbacks from doing leg extensions.
2) Squats: 5 to 6 sets, rep scheme of 12, 12, 8-10, 8-10, 4-7, 4-7. I aim to do the King of all movements at least twice a week either as part of my Push session or my occasional Legs focused only session. Here is the most comprehensive How to Squat Guide I've come across so far (stronglifts.com/squat/).
3) Seated Machine Chest Press: 3 Reverse Drop Sets. One Set looks like 20-30 reps using a light weight, immediately increase to a moderate weight stack during a 10 second rest then push out 6-8 more reps, finally increase to a heavy weight stack during another short 10 second rest then fight for 2-4 more reps to failure. That's One Set! Take 90 seconds to retrieve your spleen then knock out 2 more reverse drop sets in the same fashion. In a matter of minutes I feel like I've just spent the past hour working my chest. Reverse Drop Sets are an intense technique I wouldn't recommend doing every session. They are taxing but the PUMP is immediately noticeable. The benefit is that all muscle fibers will be activated in each given set (20-30 rep range hits the Type I endurance muscle fibers and fills the target muscles with blood. The successive 6-8 reps hit the Type IIa fibers which are the moderate-to-heavy oriented fibers. The final portion 2-4 rep range hits the heavy and explosive Type IIb fibers).
I generally prefer free weights over machines but machines have their worth at times. Reverse Drop Sets is a perfect example where I'm able to increase the weight quickly to jump right back in. Reverse Drop Sets can be performed with free weights but it requires a bit of planning and weight hoarding. Machines are ideal for Reverse Drop Sets.
4) Seated Pec Flys or Standing Cable Crossovers: 4 sets of 10-15 reps. I put my ego aside on these and really focus on squeezing my pecs. I prefer the machine or cables for Chest flys over weights as it maintains constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.
5a) Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension: 4 sets, rep scheme of 15, 12, 10, 10. I prefer a palms facing each other/neutral grip. Arms should not start/end at a 90' angle or perpendicular to the torso. For the best tricep activation the upper arm should be at about a 30' angle away from your head. Keep elbows completely stationary throughout movement. The forearms are the only thing that move.
Superset with 5b) Standing Cable Triceps Pushdown w/ V-bar or Rope attachment: 12-15 rep range. I love the potential contraction felt during Tri Cable Pushdowns! Keep the elbows stuck to your sides to keep the shoulders and chest involvement minimal. Again the only moving body part should be the forearms.
This workout might appear a bit unorthodox but on this given day it was exactly what I was aiming for. I'm hopeful you will take a couple ideas away from the specific Push session I just shared. Whether you take all of it, some of it, or none of it you are moving in the right direction of exploring what does and does not benefit you. Don't stop exploring! I look forward to sharing my next Pull session with you.