Fitness influencer and trainer Jeff Nippard recently shared an effective push-day workout and explained the research-backed principles behind the training session. Nippard is a Canadian natural bodybuilder, powerlifter, and fitness expert who has amassed over 3.5 million YouTube subscribers to his channel dedicated to bodybuilding and fitness.
The Canadian fitness expert shared a minimalist training routine and program a few weeks ago and explained the thought process and effectiveness behind his minimalist training approach. Recently, Nippard shared a push-day workout guide for muscle and strength gain. The workout was the first episode in the six-part push-pull-leg series. Nippard shared this video on his YouTube channel.
Jeff Nippard shares the ultimate push workout guide
Nippard’s push-day workout included seven exercises to target the chest, triceps, and shoulders. He advised warming up the body to get sufficient blood flow to the muscles. Five minutes of treadmill or Stairmaster followed by upper body dynamic drills like arm circles and cable external rotations should be enough to get ready for the intense workout, according to Nippard.
One ‘near-max effort set’ of standard barbell bench press should be the first of the seven push exercises. However, Nippard suggested working the way up by doing a warm-up pyramid to prepare mentally for the heavy top set.
Nippard’s warm-up protocol includes the following:
- 1st Warm-up set: 45 pounds for 10 to 15 reps
- 2nd Warm-up set: 135 pounds for 5 reps
- 3rd Warm-up set: 185 pounds for 3 reps
- 4th Warm-up set: 225 pounds for 2 reps
- 5th Warm-up set: 275 pounds for 1 rep
While explaining the correct form for doing the bench press, Nippard advised setting up a comfortable back arch for a tight and stable position.
“It doesn’t have to be a huge powerlifting style arch, but you should at least dig your upper back into the bench. So you’ll have a strong base of support. You should also pinch your shoulder blades together and tuck your shoulder blades down,” Nippard added.
For the max effort top set, Nippard advised getting help from a spotter to unrack the bar softly rather than yanking it off the rack.
“Make sure you have three points of contact with the bench – your butt, your upper back, and your head,” Nippard suggested.
According to Nippard, you should lower the bar to the highest contact point on the chest and press the bar up with as much explosive force as possible. Because of the structure of pectoral muscles, it is alright to flare the shoulders out during the press and tuck them in during the eccentric phase of the exercise.
“When you look at the way pec fibers fan out, anything from 0 to 30 degrees of an elbow tuck is going to wind up with a majority of the pec fibers anyway,” Nippard clarified.
For those who cannot or do not want to do the barbell bench press, flat dumbbell presses or machine presses can be good alternatives. Since the rep range, technique, and everything else remain the same; these exercises yield similar benefits.
This exercise follows the top set of bench presses. The Larson press is similar to the bench press, except that you lie flat on a longer bench instead of planting your feet on the ground. Nippard advised dropping the weight for the Larsen press to approximately 75 percent of the weight used for the bench press. For example, if the bench press was done using 200 pounds, you should use 150 pounds for the Larson press.
“The only difference is that you keep your feet up. This way, you completely eliminate the leg drive, which will help isolate the pecs, front delts, and triceps more. And then to make the movement more hypertrophic, you’ll take a slightly closer grip to increase the range of motion and shift the emphasis slightly more towards the upper pecs and triceps,” Nippard added.
Instead of pressing the weight with an explosive movement, you should maintain a smooth tempo. Taking one or two seconds pause between every rep to feel the contraction in the pecs, triceps, and shoulders is the way to go.
Standing Dumbbell Arnold Press
Nippard stated that an optimized push-day workout should include horizontal presses for targeting the pecs and vertical presses to isolate shoulders to a greater degree. To target the shoulders, Nippard suggested doing the standing dumbbell Arnold press.
“So for these, you wanna start with the dumbbells facing palms in, and then as you press, you’re going to flare your elbows out until you get to full elbow extension and then reverse the motion back down under control,” Nippard explained.
Superset: Cable Press Around and Pec Stretch
According to Nippard, the cable press around combines cable flys and cable press. However, you do only one arm at a time. Most people may find the movement awkward initially. However, Nippard feels you will get comfortable with it in a couple of weeks. The movement is done across the body, allowing a greater range of motion.
“If you think about it, pretty much every other exercise that hits the pecs, they almost all stop at or before the midline. If you press, you stop before the midline. When you fly, you stop before the midline. When you dip, you stop before the midline. But the chest isn’t fully contracted until well past the midline. With the press around, we’re trying to target that very end range of motion that is very hard to hit,” Nippard added.
He admitted that it has yet to be proved if the increased range of motion has added benefits. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt targeting that range of motion.
Nippard cited a study that states that holding a stretch between the sets for about 20 to 30 seconds can lead to up to 50 percent more muscle gain than regular weight training. He advised supersetting the cable press around with pec stretch to capitalize on this phenomenon.
Cross-Body Cable Y-Raise
Nippard borrowed this movement from natural bodybuilding legend Alberto Nunes. In Alberto’s own words, think about this movement as ‘drawing the sword from the bottom and then flicking it up and out at the top.’
“One thing to be aware of is that we don’t want to turn this into a front raise. We’re not lifting the cable up and in front of us. We’re lifting it out and back in a diagonal plane of motion,” Nippard stated.
Superset: Squeeze-Only Triceps Pressdown and Stretch-Only Overhead Triceps Extension
Nippard credited the knowledge of this superset to famed bodybuilding coach Joe Bennett, also known as Hypertrophy Coach. The triceps pressdowns are effective in contracting the triceps. On the other hand, overhead triceps extensions effectively give an excellent stretch to the triceps. This superset aims at performing partial reps of these exercises while staying in the range ‘where it is the hardest.’
Cross-Body Cable Triceps Extension
Nippard advised doing a few sets of this exercise to work the triceps with arms at a slightly unconventional angle. The Candian observed that triceps pushdowns and extensions are the most common exercises. However, both these movements are performed with arms tucked against the side. Therefore a variation that flares the arms out can be a good addition to the triceps / push-day workout.
“I think this is a good variation to include because the long head of the triceps crosses both the elbow joint and the shoulder joint. So varying the shoulder position can impact which region of the triceps you’re emphasizing,” Nippard added.
Jeff Nippard Ultimate Push Workout
Overall, the workout included the following:
- Bench Press: 1 set of 3 to 5 reps
- Larsen Press: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Standing Dumbbell Arnold Press: 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Superset: Cable Press Around (2 sets of 12 to 15 reps) and Pec Stretch (2 sets of 30 seconds hold)
- Cross-Body Cable Y-Raise: 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Superset: Squeeze Only Pressdown (3 sets of 8 reps) and Stretch Only Overhead Extension (3 sets of 8 reps)
- Cross-Body Cable Triceps Extension: 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Nippard’s research-based scientific approach to training has gained much popularity in the YouTube fitness community. The push-pull-leg series can be a great starting point for those looking to embark on a fitness journey. Stay tuned to Fitness Volt for detailed coverage of the entire series.
You can watch the full video below, courtesy of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel: