From Deadpool to Blade Trinity, Ryan Reynolds’ chiselled physique has inspired many men to take up weight training and get in shape.

You too can get an impressive chest and arms like Ryan Reynolds and not only that you can do so in as little as 3 workouts a week like many of our successful body transformation clients at Ultimate Performance. 

The key is training smart and making the most of your time in the gym. To do this we need to think of the action of the muscles we are looking to target.

Why This Workout Works

Chest

The job of your chest is to pull the upper arm across your upper body towards your sternum.

The fibres of the muscle fan out and which fibres you’re working depends on the angle in which your arm goes across your body.

 

We have three main areas we are looking to attack within this workout:

  1. The clavicular/upper fibres: look to direct arm path across the upper fibres of the pec coming upwards at around a 45-degree angle. Think incline presses and cable flyes here.
  2. The costal/lower fibres: Aiming for your arm path to head down towards your belly button and down the outer line of the pec. Think decline presses and high to low cable flyes.
  3. The sternal fibres: The biggest area and often easiest to train. Create a big rib cage on flat or low incline presses to help train this.

Bonus tip: Rib cage angle will massively dictate which fibres you hit. If you’re looking for upper chest and you overarch on incline press you may hit sternal/mid fibres more.

 

The tricep has three main heads:

  1. Long head
  2. Lateral head
  3. Medial head 

The main job of these muscles is to extend the elbow.

Our aim is to train the muscle through its full range and the exercises in this workout will do just that:

  1. Shortened range challenge – Cable tricep extensions are going to be your main mover here. Pick a handle that is shoulder-width to avoid any other muscles taking over and saving your elbows in the future. Step back so you’re about 3-4ft from the cable stack and make sure your upper arm is behind (extended) you at all times.
  2. Mid-range challenge – Same exercise as above, but now your aim is to stand closer to the cable stack and bring your arm in line with your body to create more challenge in the mid position of the tricep.
  3. Lengthened range challenge – Again, the same exercise as above, but lean forward and bring your arms in front of your torso.

The workouts below will help you build a chest and triceps like Ryan Reynolds, and include an ‘upper body’ and a ‘push’ workout to add the key amount of frequency as well as hit our key muscles from every possible angle.

The Workout

WORKOUT 1: UPPER BODY

How to Perform the Exercises

This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively. 

If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching, today or consult a qualified PT.

The Set-Up 

  • Set up a bench at a 60-degree incline in a rack. Set the pins to your available range of motion.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down – imagine you are pulling them down into your back pocket. This creates stability.
  • Unrack the bar without losing shoulder blade position. Get a spotter to help with the handoff if necessary.

 

The Movement 

  • Pull the bar down slowly focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
  • Initiate the movement by tensing your chest.
  • Focus on pushing yourself into the bench and driving your elbows in towards your sternum rather than pushing the bar up.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Do not exhale as you lift: this will cause your chest to collapse and lose tension. Reset your breath at the top.
  • The bar does not need to touch your chest: find your range by rowing your elbow down as far as you can without your shoulders rounding or chest collapsing. This is your active range of motion.

The Set-Up:

  • Aim to have the necessary range-of-motion close to 180-degree shoulder flexion (raising the arm above the head)  
  • Use a step/bench to get to the handles, or jump up if you can.
  • Hang in a neutral grip, cross the lower legs and squeeze the glutes. 
  • Engage the shoulder blades
  • Keep the head in a neutral position.

 

The Movement:

  • The range-of-motion in the bottom position will be dictated by the control of the shoulder blades. Start with a little tension in the lats by engaging the shoulder blades.
  • Lead with the chest all the way and hold at the top. 
  • Aim to get the shoulder blades pinched together at the top. 
  • Slowly lower with control all the way down to the bottom.
  • Each rep should be initiated with the shoulder blades.

 

Trainer Tips: 

  • If grip fails when trying to train back, it is worth using lifting straps to support the grip. 
  • Think about driving the elbows into the back pockets to maximise the contraction. 
  • Try not to move the hips to get further up.
  • Don’t swing the knees forward to get that last few inches at the top of the movement. 
  • Aim to keep the shoulders blades pinched together and not round at the top to finish the movement.

The Set-Up 

  • Sit on the floor with dumbbells on your knees. Kick the dumbbells up as you lie back into position.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down (think about pulling them towards your back pockets) to create stability.
  • Either have your knees bent and push into ground, or legs out straight and squeeze your glutes – both create stability. It is a matter of preference.

 

The Movement 

  • Pull the dumbbells down slowly, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
  • Pause for a second on the floor.
  • Initiate the movement by tensing your chest.
  • Focus on pushing yourself into the floor and driving your elbows in towards your sternum rather than pushing the dumbbells up.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Do not exhale as you lift: this will cause your chest to collapse and lose tension. Reset your breath at the top.

The Set-Up 

  • Sit in a cable row with a long pulldown bar. 
  • Your arms should be just outside shoulder width.
  • Keep your chest upright.

 

The Movement 

  • Initiate the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Drive your elbows out wide. Imagine you’re pulling the bar apart.
  • Stop the movement when you can no longer pull the shoulder blades together.
  • Slowly return to the start.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Forget about your hands – they are hooks. Think shoulder blades first and then elbows with little pull from the hands.

The Set-Up

  • Stand in the middle of a dual cable stack.
  • Line up the high cables with the pec line (down the side of the pec).
  • Grab the D handles in this position and step forward from the stack.

 

The Movement 

  • Keeping shoulder blades together, initiate by squeezing your chest
  • Drive your elbows down the line of your pec 
  • Slightly bring the shoulder blades forward to fully shorten the chest, ensuring you don’t allow your chest to collapse.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Be careful not to pull with the hands or allow the bicep to take over.

The Set-Up 

  • Stand facing away from the cable machine with the rope attachments in your hands, behind your neck.
  • Take a big step forward and then stand with one foot in front of the other (split-stance).
  • Bend forward at the waist – at roughly a 45-degree angle to the floor and bring your upper arms to shoulder height.
  • This is your start and finish position.

 

The Movement

  • Keeping your upper arms and body still, and chin tucked in, extend your elbows to straighten your arms over your head.
  • Pause and squeeze your triceps. 
  • Reverse the movement slowly to the start position.
  •  Make sure you are working through the fullest range of motion possible, fully flexing your elbows at the start position, and straightening your arms to the point where your shoulders do not rotate inwards. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

 

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the movement to avoid them flaring out.
  • Always choose a weight that you can comfortably do and then work up from there, slowly increasing the resistance.
  • Keep your upper arms still; the only movement should be coming from your forearms. 
  • Make sure the ropes are not twisted, so they are not different lengths.
  • You may want to use two standard length rope attachments to maximise the range of motion. 

Stretch Push-Up

 

The Set-Up 

  • Set up in a push-up position with your hands elevated onto two blocks
  • Ensure you tuck your hips under, engaging your glutes and lower abs.

 

The Movement 

  • Pull yourself down to the floor slowly, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
  • Initiate the movement by tensing your chest.
  • Focus on pushing your hands together to create tension in your chest.
  • Don’t allow your hips to sag and keep glutes and abs engaged.

WORKOUT 2: PUSH

How to Perform the Exercises

The Set-Up

  • Set up a bench at a 20-30 degree decline, sitting on the bench with dumbbells on your knees.
  • Pull the shoulder blades down (think towards your back pocket) to create stability
  • Kick the dumbbells up as you lie back into position.

 

The Movement 

  • Pull the dumbbells down, slowly focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
  • Initiate the movement by tensing your chest.
  • Focus on pushing yourself into the bench and driving your elbows in towards your sternum, rather than pushing the bar up.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Do not exhale as you lift: this will cause your chest to collapse and lose tension. Reset your breath at the top.
  • Do not let shoulders raise towards your ears. Keep depressing your shoulder blades – think about pulling them down towards your back pockets.

The Set-Up 

  • Set up a bench in the middle of a dual cable stack.
  • Set up the cables to line up with the upper fibres of your chest.
  • Grab the D handles in this position or attach elbow cuffs.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down to stabilise yourself against the bench.

 

The Movement 

  • Keeping shoulder blades pinned together, initiate by squeezing your chest.
  • Drive the elbows together towards your sternum, keeping your chest up high.
  • Slightly internally rotate shoulder at the end to fully shorten pec.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Be careful not to pull with the hands which allows the biceps to take over.
  • Your hands do not need to come together. Do not let your chest collapse and instead think about making a cleavage.

The Set-Up 

  • Set up in a push-up position with your hands on the floor.
  • Ensure you tuck your hips under, engaging your glutes and lower abs.

 

The Movement 

  • Pull yourself down to the floor slowly, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
  • Initiate the movement by tensing your chest.
  • Focus on pushing your hands together to create tension in your chest.
  • Don’t allow your hips to sag and keep your glutes and abs engaged.

The Set-Up

  • Sit on the edge of a bench with the dumbbell positioned in between a diamond formation of your hands.
  • Raise arms above your head so the dumbbell rests straight above your head.

 

The Movement 

  • Bend the elbows and slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head
  • Initiate by squeezing the triceps and push the dumbbell towards the ceiling as you extend the elbow.

 

Trainer Tips

  • If you do not have the range to get your arms overhead, set up a high cable and do a unilateral cable version.

The Set-Up 

  • Stand in the middle of a dual cable stack holding the opposing cable in each hand.
  • Slightly flex from the hips and tuck the shoulder blades in back pockets.
  • Position your upper arm behind you and start with your elbow fully flexed.

 

The Movement 

  • Initiate by squeezing your triceps 
  • Pull the forearm down and back to extend the elbow rather than pulling the cable with your hand. Finish when you have fully extended the elbow.
  • Slowly lower back to the start position and tense bicep to finish the movement.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Do not allow any movement in the upper arm – keep it locked and still.
  • Do not allow any movement in the spine – keep it locked and still.
  • Do not allow any movement in the hips – keep them locked and still.

This is the same as above but take one step forward once you hit failure on the above. 

This will shorten the ‘moment arm’ and make the movement easier to allow you to get a few more reps out.

 

The Set-Up 

  • Stand in the middle of a dual cable stack holding the opposing cable in each hand.
  • Slightly flex from the hips and tuck the shoulder blades in back pockets.
  • Position your upper arm behind you and start with your elbow fully flexed.

 

The Movement 

  • Initiate by squeezing your triceps 
  • Pull the forearm down and back to extend the elbow rather than pulling the cable with your hand. Finish when you have fully extended the elbow.
  • Slowly lower back to the start position and tense bicep to finish the movement.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Do not allow any movement in the upper arm – keep it locked and still.
  • Do not allow any movement in the spine – keep it locked and still.
  • Do not allow any movement in the hips – keep them locked and still.

By Simon Dutton

 

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