Normally I prefer to work one body part per workout; however, I like to throw in some variety every now and then in order to continue to challenge myself. One of my favorite variations is to superset opposing muscle groups, particularly chest and back. Here is a typical chest/back routine that I like to do as I get closer to hitting the stage, or if I feel that I need to throw in a little variety.
1) Flat bench press: This exercise is done lying on a flat bench with a barbell. I use a grip that is fairly wide (outside shoulder width), with my hands facing the front, while raising the bar directly over my chest.
Wide grip lat pulldown: Performed at a lat pulldown station with palms facing away and a grip outside of your shoulder width. I always focus on feeling the exercise in my lats, and not my biceps.
I go for 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps (not including a few warm up sets).
2) Incline dumbbell chest press: Done using an adjustable bench while using dumbbells with your palms facing the front. You will then raise and lower the weight directly over your chest. I usually shoot for around a 30% incline.
Dumbbell row: This is often performed on a bench, but I feel that I get a better range of motion by using a dumbbell rack for support. I keep both feet on the floor, bend at the waist and place one hand on the rack for support. While keeping my back straight and holding a dumbbell in my free hand I row the dumbbell by pulling my elbow as high as I can while keeping my arm close to my side.
I do 3-4 sets of 10.
3) Cable crossover: Performed at a two-sided pulley station with D-handles attached in the high position. Keep a slight bend in your arms throughout the movement. I also tend to step forward to help with the range of motion. I bring the handles directly in front of my chest. Focus on squeezing your chest as you pull your hands together.
Wide grip pull-up: I like to perform them with a wide grip with my palms facing away. I go to full extension and come to a full stop at the bottom of every rep. Use the assisted pull-up machine if you are unable to get the desired amount of reps.
I go for 3 sets of 20 on the cable crossover and shoot for 3 sets of at least 10 pull-ups.
4) Dumbbell pullover: Lay across a bench sideways with your upper back supported by the bench. While holding one end of a dumbbell with both hands and your arms extended over your chest, slowly lower the dumbbell in an arc behind your head. When you feel the stretch, pull the weight back to the starting position over your chest.
I usually use this as a finisher and go for 3 sets of 15-20.
I like finishing with dumbbell pullovers because it works your chest and back and you are able to finish the workout with a good stretch. When performing a superset, the second exercise should be done immediately after finish the reps of the first, without rest. This opposing muscle superset workout should help you keep your heart rate high while providing a change to your typical routine.
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