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Fouad Abiad's Project Inferno Day 41:Chest & Delts

I think chest and shoulders is probably the most fun training day of the week. So let’s get into it.

I’m starting this workout with machine chest presses, which I like because it gives me a great warm up without putting my pectorals in a vulnerable position. A lot of people like to start with weight-training exercises that allow them to go heavier at the beginning of their chest workouts. It’s true that you’ll be able to lift more weight if you don’t emphasizing a move that pre-exhausts your target body part. But I’m not a powerlifter; I’m a bodybuilder—and my goal is to build as much quality mass as I can without injuring myself, making sure all the insertion points of my target muscles are warmed up before I move on to heavier exercises. Machine presses are a great first exercise for my goals. I perform 7 sets, slowly increasing the weight and hitting the 8-10 rep-range for every set with 30 seconds of rest between.

Normally, people move onto their heaviest compound exercise after their warm up, but today I’m really going to fully pre-exhaust my chest by performing machine flyes. The purpose of pre-exhausting is not to help you become as strong as possible; it’s to tear muscle fibers at the micro level. This taxes the muscle, forcing it to recover and grow. That way when we get to heavier compound moves such as dumbbell and barbell presses, we don’t have to go as heavy. This reduces the risk of injury while helping to maximize muscle growth. That’s especially important when you’re depleted on a calorie-cutting diet.

My next move is bench presses using a pause at the bottom of each rep. This is another great exercise for building your pectorals while preventing injury. For the pause, I stop about an inch or so above my chest and hold the weight for a second or two before exploding up. This keeps constant tension on your pecs, allowing you to train them fully with this intensity technique rather than relying on bouncing heavier weights to complete your rep. It teaches you the mind-muscle connection, but it’s also reinforcing a more effective form of explosiveness because you’re starting after a full pause. In addition, this will help you increase strength in your bench press after you complete Project Inferno when you’re not depleted from dieting. For this move today, we’re just going for 6-8 reps per set.

My last move for chest is incline dumbbell presses on a slight incline. My chest is already pretty pumped, so I want these to be clean reps. That means I’m going with a moderate weight and rep pace that allows me to emphasize all of the stretch and contraction. I don’t want to be throwing the weights around for lower reps at this point in my chest workout. I want 8-12 clean reps with 30-second rests between sets. I’m on a very slight incline because that’s the angle that feels best to me, and it varies from the angle I used for flat barbell bench presses.

Not many people train chest and shoulders together, but I like to do that. My first move for shoulders is a move I learned from my trainer John Meadows, who I started working with in 2015. It’s called six-ways dumbbell raises. This move is really difficult, especially after training chest, and your weights can’t be that heavy. Here’s the rhythm for this move:

  1. Lateral raise to hold at shoulder height

  2. Bring weights at shoulder height together in front of your chest.

  3. Raise weights directly overhead

  4. Lower to shoulder height in front of you

  5. Spread weights wide keeping them at shoulder height

  6. Perform the lowering portion of a lateral raise

Then repeat this sequence for about 10 reps total each set.

My last weight exercise for chest and shoulders day is single-arm dumbbell lateral raises. Remember that I like to bring the weight out in front of me a little for this exercise. I anchor my non-working side against a bench to make sure I hold my body steady, using the muscles of my working side for today’s finishing exercise. Aside from military or shoulder pressing moves, I believe that strict lateral raises are the best way to cap off your delts. Using a proper weight with good form is going to build your middle delts better than swinging weights with shitty form. That’s also why I’m doing one arm at a time—to really focus on these muscles.

If your abs need work, then you can perform your abs training at the end of your weight training, or you can add it after your post-workout cardio. The first move I’m recommending for today is bench knee-ins. This is a great move for working the lower abs when you keep your form tight and you rely on your abs to perform the exercise.

The best way to get the most from this move is to sit sideways on a flat bench and grasp the sides lightly with your knuckles pointing towards the ground—you only want to use your arms to help stabilize yourself. Allow your upper body to lie back at about a 30-degree (or lower), from the ground but above the bench. Place your feet together—you can hold a weight between them—but keep them at the height of the the bench. Simultaneously bring your knees in towards your abs as you curl your upper body towards your knees and contract your abs. Extend your legs, keeping them at bench height as you curl your lower body back to the starting position. Emphasize the stretch and contraction. If your abs aren’t fried after 15 reps, then clasp a light weight between your feet and/or perform each rep more slowly. Keep your handhold on the bench light, only to maintain stability. The key is to use your abs to perform this move. This exercise targets both your upper and lower rectus abdominis, but focus more on sucking in the lower portion of your abs and crunching that portion.

The second abs exercise for today is standing cable abs crunches, which I introduced last week (Day 29). Because this is an easier move, it’s a great balance to bench knee-ins. To perform this one choose a moderate weight and stand bracing your shins against the pad of a pulldown machine using a rope or other attachment that’s comfortable for you—some people like to use a triangle handle. Hold the weight behind or beside your head, and prevent your arms from working during the set. Curl your upper body down toward your hips, crunch your abs, and then release slowly feeling the stretch in your abs. This exercise is not about using as much weight as you can. It’s about emphasizing the contraction and stretch in your rectus.

This was a good workout. Stay focused and stay on your diets; I’ll see you next week.

 

Download the Workout

 

Morning cardio

1

1

Perform 55 minutes before consuming food

 

Machine chest press 7 sets x 8-10 reps
Pec deck flye 6 sets x 12-15 reps
Barbell bench press
5 sets x 6-8 Reps
Incline dumbbell bench press 3 sets x 8-12  reps
Six-ways dumbbell raise
3 sets x 10 reps
Single-arm dumbbell lateral raise 3 sets x 12-15 reps Each Arm

Bench knee-ins

4

15-20

Hold a weight between your feet and force a maximal contraction in the lower portion of your rectus

Standing Cable Abs Crunches

3

15-20

This is an easier weighted move that works your abs from the top of the rectus

Post-workout cardio

1

1

Perform 40 minutes immediately after weight-training or add this session later in the evening

 

TAKEAWAY:

Not many people train chest and shoulders together, but I like to do that. When you train shoulders with chest you don’t need a lot of volume for shoulders. You can finish them off with only 6-8 sets because you’ve already worked them with chest. I learned this from my trainer John Meadows. A lot of people think shoulders always need their own day, but they don’t. I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in my shoulders because I often train them after chest.


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