Q: First, your e-books are all fantastic. I have almost every one. I’m a bit old-school, so I print out the routines and put them in a 3-ring binder so I can thumb through and find the right routine one when I want a new routine. I’m a very big supporter of full-range Positions of Flexion. It makes total sense and has built lots of muscle for me. I’ve noticed that on some triceps routines you use close-grip bench presses as the big midrange move, while on others you pick decline extensions. Close-grip benches allow you to synergize better with other muscles, so shouldn’t that always be the big triceps midrange exercise?
A: Thanks for supporting our cause and your confidence in our programs. That’s a great idea, by the way—keeping all the workouts in a binder.
To answer your question, yes, close-grip bench presses—we like the decline version pictured below—do provide more synergy, as it’s a compound exercise; the chest and delts help overload the triceps. However, if you’re using a program in which you train triceps after chest on the same day, doing close-grip bench presses would be somewhat redundant. You’ve already hit the triceps with pressing moves, so there’s no need to synergize more…
In that case, you’re better off with a single-joint move like lying or decline extensions (a.k.a. skull-crushers). A good example is the Basic program outlined on pages 28-30 in the X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book…
At Workout 1, you train chest, delts, triceps, and abs. You do press moves for both chest and delts, so a more isolated, or single-joint, extension exercise is best for triceps midrange work.
At Workout 2, you train legs.
At Workout 3 you hit lats, midback, and biceps. Bi’s are affected the same as tri’s: While undergrip chins or pulldowns are multi-joint midrange biceps exercises, you want to use a single-joint biceps exercise, barbell curls, here because you did pulldowns and rows at the beginning of the workout.
Some programs can go either way, such as the Phase 1 Size Surge routine. Here’s that split…
Monday: Quads, hamstrings, chest, back, delts, calves
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs
Friday: Quads, hamstrings, chest, back, delts, calves
The original Size Surge program is set up with all single-joint exercises on direct arm day, which is Wednesday; however, if you feel you need some extra chest work, you can substitute close-grip bench presses for lying extensions. If you feel you need more back work you can substitute undergrip chins or pulldowns for barbell curls.
That gives you three hits each week for either of those areas that are lagging.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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