Upper Push

Upper Push

Training Notes:

A1: The goal here should be to overload the eccentric and generate as much tension in the side delts as possible. Try to use a seated machine with forearm pads rather than a standing machine with handles if possible. No rest before A2.

A2: Keep the reps strict. Focus on forcing the delts to initiate and control the movement instead of the load being used. Take the last set to failure.

B: Hands should be semi-pronated. The angle of the bench should be closer to ~75º than 90º to create a more natural pressing angle. Get a full ROM on every rep.

C: Grip should be about an inch more narrow on each side compared to a traditional width. Touch your sternum on each rep and pause briefly while maintaining tension (don't relax and sink the bar). Keep elbows tucked and try to bias triceps. Reduce load by ~10% for down sets.

D1: This should be setup to resemble a pec deck. Angle should be slightly downward. Try to use a functional trainer if possible. Some gyms may actually have this specific piece of equipment so just go ahead and use that if you do. Note the tempo and intent here! Rest 20 sec before D2

D2: Elevate hands by ~2 inches for more ROM. Pushup handles or hex DBs work well for this and also allow for a more natural, semi-pronated grip. The goal here is to fully lengthen the pecs and provide a loaded stretch after shortening them prior. Pause in the stretch each rep to accentuate it.

E1: Use a functional trainer for these. Make sure the cables line up with upper arms. Get your triceps as contracted as possible. Load will be limited on these due to the mechanics of the movement. Take the last set to failure. Rest 20 sec before E2.

E2: We want to fully lengthen and stretch the triceps so make sure to get as much elbow flexion on the eccentric as possible. Also pause in the stretch to compound this effect. Take the last set to 1RIR.


Goals of this session:

Though we are still aiming to overload this session via the two main movements (Overhead Press and Close Grip Bench), the supersets for delts, pecs, and triceps add a different dimension of metabolic accumulation. The overall focus is relatively balanced between the primary muscle groups (pecs/delts/triceps) but prioritizing the lateral raise superset to begin will inherently add emphasis to the delts. We want to make sure that the supersets remain in line with their intents and leverage the heavier presses to accumulate some volume load at higher percentages of one-rep-maxes.

Warm-up recommendations:

-5-10 minutes of steady state cardio such as incline walking, elliptical, rowing, or ski erg

-Soft tissue manipulation in the form of 3-5 min of light foam rolling the mid-back, lats, and teres major. More specific work can be done using a small lacrosse ball (or something similar) and working through bound up tissue in the pecs and scapular region.

-Specific mobility with band over-and-backs, straight arm pushups, and wall slides (overhead press with your back against a wall)


Common exercise modifications:

Machine Laterals- Lying Cable Laterals, Seated Poliquin Raises, Standing Band Laterals

Seated DB OHP- Machine OHP, Incline DB Press, Seated Barbell Press, Seated Smith Press, DB Z Press

Close Grip Bench Press- Neutral Grip Flat DB Press, Close Grip Smith Press, Close Grip Machine Chest Press, Swiss Bar Bench Press

Seated Cable Flyes- Pec Deck, High-to-Low Cable Flyes, Single Arm Standing Cable Flyes, Slight Incline DB Flyes

Deficit Pushups- Pushups (no deficit), Machine Chest Press, Flat DB Press

Cross Cable Tricep Extensions- Rope Cable Tricep Pushdowns, Single Arm Cross Body Tricep Pushdowns, Band Tricep Pushdowns, DB Kickbacks
Machine Dips- Dips (weighted, bodyweight or assisted), Bench Dips, Decline Skullcrushers (bar or DBs)


Common program modifications:

Advanced trainees- Increase volume of A1 and A2 by adding a working set. Shift distribution of C sets to 3 heavy sets and 1 lighter set. Increase intensity by taking the last set of A1 and both sets of A2 to failure, take the down set of C to 1RIR, and push all sets of E2 to 1RIR. 

Intermediate trainees- Keep the program as is

Beginner trainees- Remove D1 and E1 and instead perform D2 and E2 by themselves with full rest between sets. Reduce intensity of A1 and A2 to 2RIR, B to 4RIR, C to 4RIR, D2 to 2RIR, and E2 to 3RIR. It may also be beneficial to break up A1 and A2 and take full rest between the sets. If strength is an issue, D2 can be performed against a bar to reduce difficulty while preserving technique.

Male trainees- Longer rest between sets and more feeders before working sets on B and C. Remove a set from B and add a set to D1 and D2. Volume may need to be decreased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (stronger trainees may need less working sets).

Female trainees- Shorter rest between working sets and less feeders/warmup sets will generally be needed. Remove a top set from C and add a down set to B. D1 and D2 can be shifted to more delt focus and away from direct pec work depending on goals. Volume may need to be increased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (better conditioned trainees may need more working sets).


Common injury modifications:

Shoulders- Depending on the mechanism of injury/pain, there may need to be additional steps taken to modify movement execution and loading. A good starting point would be to go through a light circuit of bent over neutral Y raises, prone Ws and band cuban presses. Machine laterals can be phased out for a more joint-friendly alternative like lying cable laterals and the DB laterals can be performed in the scapular plane to avoid jamming. Seated DB OHP can turn into Incline Neutral Grip DB Press with a deliberate ROM to avoid pain. Close Grip Bench Press can be modified to Close Grip Pin Press with the pins set above the painful ROM or reverse bands/slingshots can be used to reduce tension in the stretch. Deficit pushups might be aggravating so reducing the ROM and keeping a neutral grip may be beneficial. The dip motion could also be somewhat problematic depending on where the dysfunction is stemming from so modifying to a DB skullcrusher would be a good idea.

Elbows- Perform soft tissue work on biceps, forearms and triceps using a KB or have someone else assist you. Warmup joints well with light band tricep pushdowns and isometric contractions at different joint angles to build tolerance. The deeper ROMs of the OHP and bench press may be aggravating so intentionally reducing the ROM (through Spoto press, pin press, adding pauses in joint-friendly positions, etc) may be a good way of reducing strain as well as reverse banding the movements to remove some of the resistance in the bottom of the rep. The pushups and dips could also be bothersome for similar reasons so switching to more controllable loading (in the case of pushups, something like a machine press) or changing to a less stressful movement pattern (with dips, something like a decline neutral grip DB press) can be helpful in alleviating the issues stemming from increased torque at the joint.

Wrists- Wearing wrist wraps for additional support will be very helpful especially on the heavy pressing movements. Additionally, make sure the grip being used is promoting a "stacked" joint and not forcing the wrist to support loads in compromising positions. Try not to perform the pushups with flat hands on the ground and instead use pushup bars or DBs to maintain a "knuckles-down" grip.
Breast Augmentation- Be very careful with any loaded stretches of the pecs. The Close Grip Bench should be alright depending on recovery status but the ROM and intensity may need to be reduced. An incline can also be added to the close grip presses to make them a bit less stressful on the pecs and that tissue. The flyes and pushups can be removed all together and substituted for more delt or triceps volume depending on goals and potential discomfort. 


Additional notes:

This session would work well in an overloading as well as metabolic focused program due to the overlap of stimuli that are applied. Because the progression emphasis is clearly on B and C, it would be wise to keep them as they are in the program and aim to add load and/or reps on a moderate-to-long time frame. The supersets that fill in the volume gaps can be varied and changed more liberally as long as the intents are kept in mind with any modification. Load should be the driver of progression for B and C but relative intensity (proximity to failure) should be very controlled. However, intensity can be more aggressively increased with the supersets due to the inherent limitations of load and potential mechanical damage. 

Depending on the goals of the trainee, the heavier presses can be shifted to the beginning of the session to maximize output, and the initial superset can also be changed to accommodate whichever muscle group needs to be prioritized the most (delts, pecs, or triceps).

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