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Coaching Strength training

Protect your shoulders while training your chest

In my experience, almost all chest training will involve a significant amount of shoulder/rotator cuffs/delts. It’s almost unavoidable to not engage those muscles, despite your best efforts to isolate your pecs.

Think of your favorite upper-body exercises — bench press, incline press, overhead press, cable crossovers or the dumbbell variants. They all engage your shoulders significantly.

Obviously, there isn’t any need to isolate just the chest unless you’re either injured or insane. In my case, it’s the former. And I don’t think I’ll get around to a full-fledged bench and overhead press routine for the next couple of months. (If my therapy and recovery go as planned.)

While I would love to Squat and Deadlift every day, I really don’t want to miss out on training the upper body. And I’d hate to be that person who just does abs.

So, I thought of two safe exercises that’ll go easy on my shoulders and isolate my chest and triceps (both needed for a massive bench press) to a large extent.

If you guessed, Dumbbell Floor Presses. You’re right! I would add another variant of this exercises called the Dumbbell Glute-bridge Floor Press. The former is a pretty usual sight in the gym (for the folks who know what they’re doing), while the latter is for the purists who would like to kill two birds (chest and glutes) with one move.

Here’s how you do the DB floor press:

 

And here’s the variant (DB Glute Bridge Floor Press):

 

Pretty neat, huh?

I would, of course, be starting with around 50-60% of my 1RM (with dumbbells) but that’s a great place to be if all you’ve been focusing on is the Barbell for the past 5 years. Or perhaps I’ll just go by feel as my program would entail.

Speaking of which, I’ve decided to go ahead with the 40-day workout plan by Dan John. With slight modifications, of course! I plan to focus on the following exercises:

  1. Squats (starting with 50% of my 1RM): 2 sets of 5 reps
  2. Deadlifts (starting with 50% of my 1RM): 2 x 5
  3. DB Floor Presses: 2 x 5
  4. Heavy Curls: 2 x 5

That’s it! The plan is to stick to the same sets and reps scheme for the first two weeks while increasing the weight by feel when I feel stronger.

Post the first two weeks, I’ll switch the program a little to include the following sets and reps scheme (with the same set of exercises, barring DB Floor Presses which will be replaced with the DB Glute-bridge Floor Presses):

Week 1
Monday (Day 1) 2 x 5
Tuesday (Day 2) 2 x 5
Wednesday (Day 3) 5/3/2
Friday (Day 4) 2 x 5
Saturday (Day 5) 2 x 5

Week 2
Monday (Day 6) 2 x 5
Tuesday (Day 7) 6 singles
Wednesday (Day 8) 1 x 10
Friday (Day 9) 2 x 5
Saturday (Day 10) 5/3/2

The 40-Workout Strength Challenge

Why wait for two weeks? Because your body needs to adapt to the poundages for the first two weeks. And since you’re not increasing the weight as you would in a linear progression-based program (like the Power to the People program), you’re giving your body a chance to adapt and prime it for what’s to come.

If you’re new to the gym, stay away from this program. I believe this the above program is best suited for intermediate and/or advanced-intermediate athletes. And it’s the best logical program for someone who’s coming back from an injury.

Read more about the 40-day program at T-Nation. But if you want to go deep, buy Dan’s book Intervention, that covers this (and so much more) in depth.

I would still be training with kettlebells in the evenings since I’m preparing for SFG level 1 certification in February.