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Designing Your Push Day

Looking to take your next Push Day up a level? Maybe you're just wanting to try something new? This post is for you!

The order in which we place exercises is crucial to getting the most out of a workout. We're going to look at this Push Day from the point of view of wanting to get in a big, chest based press first, and then going in with some more isolation based work afterwards. Is this the only way to lay out a Push Day? Not at all! There might be a time when it's appropriate to lay these exercises out in a slightly different order, or include completely different exercises. However, I feel this post lays out a solid Push day, that will work for most individuals. Here's the basic map of the session:

- Converging Press

- Fly

- Lateral raise

- Lateral raise

- Triceps

- Triceps

- Parallel Press

Want to learn more? Read on...

Converging Press

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

This is your "main exercise" for the day. A converging press simply means to bring your hands together, as you push through the exercise. But, not only are we looking for you to converge, we're also looking for it to involve an 'upward arc'. This means your hands need to start lower than they finish. The combination of a converging press and an upward arc are going to give us a super optimal press for the chest, however, this type of press also requires the most amount of skill out of the two types of press for the day. Skill is heavily impacted by fatigue, so we want to get this press in early in the session, hence using it first.

A converging press can be done using a cable machine (like in the photo), using a set of dumbbells, or on a seated chest press machine (but, obviously, make sure it converges).


Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

Next up it's time to take our chest through a fly! I'm personally not a fan of dumbbell flys, I feel the risk to reward ratio isn't worth it, so I perform all of my flys on a cable machine. With a fly, we need to choose what area of the chest we're looking to place the most amount of load through.

The chest can be broken down into three "areas". This is all to do with the different attachment points of the fibres. At the top we have our clavicular fibres, in the middle we have the sternal fibres, and lower down we have the costal fibres.

Your arm path may determine what fibres are PREDOMINANTLY being hit, but all fibres WILL be being used to a certain extent, as they all attach to the same point on the humerus.

There's actually a very informative and easy to understand post on this by Paul Carter on Instagram, here.

Lateral Raise

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

Before we go deeper into the lateral raises I like to use, let's talk about the deltoid itself.

You DO NOT need to isolate your front delt. Read that again so it's engrained. Your front delt takes a beating on every single press you do. It does not need to be trained in isolation when training for hypertrophy. Focus on your lateral and posterior delts, and watch your shoulders blow up. Back to lateral raises.

I like to train the lateral deltoid through different profiles in one session. I'll start out with a dumbbell lateral raise, and place some focus purely on the short range (not sure what this means? Give this video a watch). I'll simply do one set here, then go into some form of cable lateral raise, before returning for a final set on the dumbbells to focus on the lengthened range. There's also a post you can follow here, which will take you through the dumbbell sets mentioned above.


Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

In order to appropriately train the triceps, we need to understand a little more about the muscles involved.

The Triceps Brachii is made up of three separate heads, which can be trained with different elbow extension exercises. The long head can be targeted with exercises involving the arms by the sides (known as shoulder extension), such as cable tricep pushdowns.

The medial and lateral heads can be targeted with exercises that involve the shoulders being elevated at all times (shoulder flexion), such as overhead tricep extensions.

Some of my personal favourite tricep exercises include dual crossbody cable pushdowns, single arm cable pushdowns, and single arm cable skull crushers.

Parallel Press

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

Last up we have a parallel press! This simply means your hands are going to stay in the same path through out the entirety of the movement. I want to leave nothing in the tank with this one. I'll pick a weight that allows me to get around 12-15 whole reps, but I'll actually just keep on going until I can hardly move anymore.

Parallel presses can be performed with dumbbells or on cable machines, but you'll have to work to keep your motion parallel. Where as if you use a barbell, push up, or a chest press machine that is parallel, you'll be locked into the motion.

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