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LL Cool J's Favorite Workout

He can still knock you out with those chiseled arms-even after a quarter-century as one of the world's most successful entertainers. Trainer Jimmy Pena outlines the finer points of LL's rigorous regimen.



Sets: 4 Reps: 10-12 Rest: 1 min

Hitting the incline dumbbell flye first means LL uses a method known as PRE-EXHAUST. The pre-exhaust method LL uses means he hits isolation exercises to target a particular muscle group prior to moving to compound moves for the same muscle. The objective of the technique is to get the target muscle as weak as possible before subjecting it to a multi-joint exercise. During the incline dumbbell flye like in our example, only the chest is involved in performing the movement. Then once it's fatigued, he moves to the bench press where the chest gains assistance from the shoulders and triceps. Basically, the pre-exhaust method is used to breakdown the target musculature prior to adding in the help of other muscles.



Sets: 4 Reps: 10-12 Rest: 1 min

Next, obviously he moves to the compound move (also termed multi-joint) to hit the target upper chest with the help of the shoulders and triceps.


FLAT BENCH PRESS (in power rack)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8-10 Rest: 1 min

LL does much of his benching inside a power rack for a number of great reasons, but mainly because he likes to use partials. Partials are all about overload. With partials, LL breaks a lift into smaller components within the range of motion (ROM), allowing him to handle a weight that's much heavier that he could normally use if he were working in a full ROM. Of course, his gains in strength will be limited to the particular ROM that he trains in, so he adjusts the safety bars, working all various parts of the ROM so he gains strength throughout the ROM.



Sets: 4 Reps: To Failure

LL likes to use plyo-push ups for a couple of reasons. He likes the fact that plyometric moves stimulate the fast-twitch fibers because they remove the element of deceleration. For example, during a typical push-up, we naturally (without realizing it) decelerate our bodies so our hands stay in contact with the floor. But if we disregard deceleration, we can recruit more fast-twitch fibers than usual. And like we've said, the fast-twitch fibers are mostly responsible for strength and size.

Then upon failure with the plyo version (which doesn't take long for anyone), he'll go into a more standard push and continue till failure. Doing the push-up last in his routine is great for securing an incredible pump.

And truly, anytime you're working with just your bodyweight, it's critical to take those sets to absolute failure. It makes no real sense to stop a bodyweight-driven exercise prior to fatigue; another key to his success.




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