On a hot day in Texas north of 100 degrees, Team Universal consisting of IFBB Pros Antoine Vaillant, Chris Tuttle and Universal Road Trip “host” Eric “naturalguy” Schwartz showed up at the famous Texas Gym in Dallas to smash their workouts.
Texas Gym, a hardcore institution, is one of the most sought after gyms in Texas for the serious lifter. On this particular day, Antoine prepared for shoulder destruction while Chris Tuttle smoked his chest.
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Before the beat down commenced, these two pros had to get their pre-workout and intra workout nutrition in order. Antoine (who is in his offseason) downed 4 scoops of Universal Torrent (a matrix of hydrolyzed whey concentrate, dextrose, waxy maize and amino acids) with 1 scoop of Universal Shock Therapy (a cell-volumizing pre workout powder that increases pumps and focus). Antoine would then fill up his shaker cup with another 4 scoops of Torrent, which he’d drink throughout the training session.
Chris’s prep-friendly options were more limited and a lot “cleaner”. His nutritional cocktail consisted of just 2 scoops of grape flavored Atomic 7 (an EAA/BCAA blend). Chris’s plan was to drink the first half of the drink quickly to spark protein synthesis and then slowly sip the remainder until the workout was completed.
Chris Tuttle's Chest Workout
Chris, as a Registered Dietician and clinical researcher, is a thinking man’s bodybuilder. As a pro, his understanding of training and nutrition, and the science behind them, allows him to construct workouts and diets that are conducive to making gains. He understands that while there may be many different approaches, he knows what works best for him after years of trial and error.
Chris likes to pre-exhaust the chest before engaging in any pressing movement. The goal here is to pump as much blood into the chest muscles before moving on to heavier exercises.
To ensure that maximum blood is forced in the chest, Chris will squeeze his chest together at the top of the movement and pause at the bottom. This serves to eliminate any momentum (that will allow him to lift more weight than he actually can) and take the stress off of the targeted muscle. After each set, he finishes with a quick burnout of short reps to completely fatigue the pecs.
Following the pre-exhaust, Tuttle goes into dumbbell incline presses. This is a “bread and butter” bodybuilding movement. Now that he is in the meat and potatoes of the workout, he gets in tune with the Hammer Strength Incline Press machine. Chris explains that it is an older model and feels good. Still, he prefers to shift himself down the seat a bit as it targets the upper chest a lot more than if he were sitting upright. Sitting upright forces him to use more front deltoid, which is not the goal.
Making these kinds of small adjustments is critical if you want to tailor a workout to address your needs. Chris understands this thinking. That’s why he tends to stay away from the traditional barbell bench press as it aggravates an old pec injury.
You’ll hear it in gyms everywhere: “You need to bench press to get a good chest.” Chris would argue that this is a generalized, one-size-fits all type of statement. There are many alternatives to the barbell bench that are similar, and which provide the same benefits.
He utilizes weighted push-ups to finish his chest routine. Through experience, he has realized that pushups will not aggravate his old injury, yet remain an important tool in his training arsenal. He will progressively add more weight to his back and use that rather than a barbell.
Antoine Vaillant's Shoulder Workout
His partner Antoine Vaillant trained shoulders on this day. As many people who follow the sport know, Antoine is known for having well developed delts, among other things. He likes to start with the rear delts and he warms up thoroughly with light weight to avoid injury and get his joints lubricated so they can endure a heavy workload.
To start with rear delts, Antoine either does reverse bent over flyes or reverse pec deck. In this particular workout, he chose the dumbbells. He believes in doing many basic movements to get the job done rather than complicating workouts with fancy movements. To make the bent over dumbbell fly effective, Antoine instructs to keep your thumbs turned down and pull with the rear delt. That targets the muscle correctly.
Antoine then moves to the reverse pec deck to hit the rear delts again. He progressively adds more weight until the final set – a big drop set. The next movement is the main course of the workout: dumbbell presses. In this case, the presses come with a twist, literally. Antoine presses the dumbbells up while keeping his palms inward as he gets to the top. This twist adds extra stress to the top of the motion and makes the exercises more difficult.
As any bodybuilder knows, greater difficulty leads to more muscle breakdown. More muscle breakdown leads to more muscle growth.
Following this exercise, Antoine targets his side delts with traditional side lateral raises supersetted with very strict side laterals using lighter weights and coming from behind his back. Using the superset is a good way to burn out the muscle after each set.
To finish the workout, Antoine finishes with hammer front raises. The “hammer” method means his palms are turned in and not down. He finds this way give his shoulders no pain compared to palm down front raises. He focuses on the front in the mirror and moves the weight by engaging the front delt. You can see the striations moving in the front delt if you are lean enough and perform the movement correctly.
Bodybuilding is all about maximizing gains. In order to do that, you really need to rely on trial and error when it comes to exercise selection, rep ranges, and making adjustments. Just because something works for your friend doesn’t mean it necessarily will work for you in the same way. You find out what works for you by trying new things in the gym and remembering what felt good or right.
What produced a great pump? What produced good fatigue and soreness the next day? What exercise was able to perform pain free? All these questions can be answered with extensive experience, day in and day out, on the gym floor. So find what works for you and hammer it home.