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How to do a challenging push workout with light weights

It is always a good idea to take a break from your set workout routines to try something different. Doing so challenges your muscles, resulting in more strength

Challenge yourself by trying something different.
Challenge yourself by trying something different. (Istockphoto)

When there is a set pattern of workouts that works for you, it is hard to break it. A lot of factors can contribute to this: pride, belief in what you’re doing, and the process of entrusting your body to someone else. But shocking the system and being open to trying new things in the gym is also healthy. For one, you learn something new with very little cost, and it wakes up your muscles from a routine that can get monotonous. It takes a little bit of acceptance as well that fitness is a limitless science with multiple combinations of exercises that could work.

Feeling a little bored of the usual, and strapped for time, I recently challenged a trainer at a gym I used to put me through a chest-shoulders-triceps workout within an hour, that would test my usual patterns, not include heavy weights, and still give me the feeling that I had worked hard on push day. He suggested three supersets consisting of multiple exercises with just two rounds of work, and I am still sore.

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The science with lighter weights is simple—lift till exhaustion for muscle growth. And to hit exhaustion, there will be a higher number of reps. The reps in this ranged from 12-15, and while the first round was challenging, the second one was destruction. The workout is split into the three muscle groups, and the rest time is to be used after one entire circuit.

Chest: You will need an incline bench and start in the incline bench press position to do the first part of this circuit. I used 7.5kg dumbbells. There are four exercises to be done, one by one, for 10-12 reps in this order, without getting off the bench press position: frontal chest raises, incline bench-presses, close grip dumbbell presses, and chest flys.

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Immediately move to the chest fly machine after finishing this. Bring the bars together and do 10-12 reps with the left hand while holding the bar in front of you with the right in an isometric hold. Once done, keep the left side in an isometric and do 10-12 reps with the right hand. Follow it up with 10-12 reps with both arms.And finally, finish with the same amount of push-ups. Rest for 90-120 seconds, and repeat for another round.

Shoulders: Choose between either the shoulder press machine or dumbbells heavy enough to fail in the 15th rep. The first exercise is the basic shoulder press. Next up is the seated dumbbell lateral raise, in which you can use the bench as a support or as a marker to raise the dumbbells back up. Keep a military or a strict position to reduce the momentum of the raise.

The third exercise in this circuit would be the rear delt fly using the machine. The video below is a great learning guide and feel free to use the seated support to isolate the rear delts. Make sure the setup is right depending on your height.

The standing supinated grip lateral raises are next and these will be tough after the first three exercises, so go as far as you can without losing form. The grip is different from the usual lateral raise so you can target your anterior and medial delts immediately after the rear delts in the earlier exercise. Rest for 90-120 seconds, and repeat for another round.

Triceps: Head to the cables now and remove the grips and extensions. This is a superset without any rest, but you have to keep switching the arms and the angles of the kickback. First the basic cable kickback with one hand (10-12 reps), then the other. Immediately followed by the upright cable kickback with one hand (10-12 reps) and then the other. Rest for 90-120 seconds after three rounds of this. 

And then the finisher. This will be a rope tricep pushdown on the cable machine. Do about 25-40 reps with light weights until failure. Workout done. There are many variations you can add to the above workout. But this is a great starting point and has a mix of variations and basic exercises which can be done without much fuss. Enjoy the pump.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

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