Razor-Sharp Physique: Ben Booker's Back & Chest Workout
Fitness should enhance your quality of life, not take over your life. I'm a fitness model, but I'm also a father, a husband, and a friend. I'm guessing that, like me, you also work out while pursuing a career, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.
These things, for me, are what it is all about. And they're why, over the 10 years that I've seriously lifted weights, I've spent so much time tweaking my program to make it better rather than just bigger.
What does "better training" mean? For one, it means efficiency. I want to be in and out of the gym in 30 to 45 minutes. And if I can't go to the gym, I should be able to get the same quality of workout in the same time frame, either at home or on the road. This led me to develop the Razor Hybrid Crossover, a portable tool that can easily be integrated with and enhance your current workout, allowing you to achieve the same results in less time.
Second, training should be applicable. You work to become better physically, so you can become better in all areas of your life. This is the idea behind my approach, which is meant to maximize the way lessons we learn in the gym translate to our everyday lives.
This is the first of four workouts I'll be releasing on Bodybuilding.com in the weeks to come. Each can be done on its own with existing gym equipment, or through more advanced motions incorporating the Razor.
Efficiency Through Micro-Periodization
I work out side-by-side with people who are doing the exact same program, exercise by exercise, rep by rep. They do it today. They'll do it tomorrow and two weeks from now. Will they see gains? Maybe. Most programs will work if you stick with them. However, don't confuse strength with being really good at one particular workout.
The Razor Hybrid Crossover
The Razor is the tool I designed and tested to help create the most efficient workout possible. It can be attached to bands or cable systems at the gym, or used on its own in the gym or any other location.
The resistance level is customizable, and it can be locked into four different positions, allowing it to rotate fully during exercises. This allows you to hit the entire head of a specific muscle group in one movement. The handle can also be locked into one of four positions for dialing in an exact area while maximizing total body activation. More activation equals more muscle fibers broken down, and more calories burned.
Many experts advocate periodization as the antidote to repetitive programs. For me, micro-periodization is the name of the game. I cram 12 weeks of exercises into one week. Every day and week, every lift changes. Nothing stays the same, except lifting to the point of failure.
In micro-periodization, results lie in the intensity, volume, and focus of each individual set, rep, and lift. As you gain knowledge of your body and begin adjusting these variables, you can very quickly find yourself on the way to getting into the best shape of your life.
What's the benefit? Well, one is that working out this way is always unpredictable. I still don't know what I am doing tomorrow, and I love that. My body doesn't know what to expect either, and this translates to a number of benefits, including greater core activation and fat burning as I try to adapt to a constantly changing workload.
The Four Fs
An intense set taken all the way to failure has a lot to teach you, if you let it. In a micro-periodized workout, you simply can't go through the motions, because the motions are changing all the time. Life is the same way. That's why my workouts are built around these four priorities:
- Flexibility: You should learn new ways to move and stretch your body, and to open yourself to new possibilities.
- Form: Proper form is crucial for any efficient workout. It's how you get the most out of every set and rep. It's also a choice to carry yourself the right way, not cheat, and act on what you believe.
- Focus: Proper form is impossible to maintain without focus. Make the mind-muscle connection, and keep your eye on your priorities, and your training and life will go to the next level.
- Failure: This is the last piece of the puzzle. Once you have the other three down, it's time to take a set to failure and maximize your physical potential.
That last one—failure—is huge. In life, failures happen every day. Ultimately, it comes down to what each of us learns from them to become better. Failure teaches us to admit when we are wrong, to forgive, and to keep learning.
I'm a big believer in second chances. I've had them in my life, and I think everyone deserves one. No matter how you've failed in the past, if you are flexible, use good form, and stay focused, then you have the tools you need to push yourself to the edge without fear.
This back-and-chest workout is the first part of a weeklong program that will include other workouts focusing on the biceps and triceps, legs and abs, and shoulders and calves. Each workout blasts both the agonist and antagonist muscle groups, but the progression is important, so maintain the order. I've designed them to be done at the end of a completed program, before you start a new one. I don't want you doing this for weeks on end; just for one week, as a bridge between your other workouts and programs.
The rep range is designed to develop muscle endurance. By keeping the reps high, and rest periods to 90 seconds, I can start with my heaviest weight and shoot for 20 reps. If I fail before I get there, I'll drop weight on the next set. Keep the form solid, and mentally focus on the part of the muscle being worked. Don't worry about the weight; worry about the rep range.
You can use a barbell or Smith Machine here. Just make sure your hands are about shoulder width apart.
Grab the bar about six inches away from the center of your body. This allows you to keep the volume high while keeping good form.
I like to angle my back just a little, pulling directly to the bottom of my chest for a complete rep.
You can use the close-grip attachment for seated rows and throw it over the pull-up bar. Pull up with your hands hitting your upper abdomen at the top position of lift.
Grab hold of the bench directly behind where you are sitting and focus on keeping your shoulders square. I lean back at a slight angle, push my chest out, and pull back to my side at about belly-button height.
This is all you have! Bust out as many pull-ups as you can and move right into the push-ups. A regular bench will do for elevating your feet, but I like to grab the 42-inch box and get after it. Be careful: You might fall on your face!
Advanced Razor Chest Exercises
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