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Per Bernal

It’s tough to separate these three guys: Victor Martinez, Juan Morel, and Jon Delarosa. All are of Dominican Republic descent, all currently live in New York, and all are top-level IFBB Pro League professionals. And as you can see in the accompanying photos, they’re pretty tight.

“We’re really good friends, all three of us,” says Morel. “As competitors, we show each other support, we’re there for one another, and we’re happy if one of the others does well at a show. Some people want to go to war offstage and talk trash, but that makes no sense to us. We’re not boxing, we’re not fighters.”

The next time these buddies compete against one another, there will apparently be no trash talk, but there will be plenty of Dominican muscle—roughly 750 pounds of it on the stage (properly reinforced, we hope), with Martinez and Morel each weighing around 260 and Delarosa at 230 or so.

Building this much mass has a lot to do with the following workouts for chest, shoulders, and traps. Each guy trains a bit differently, but all three approaches seem to be working in (Dominican) dominating fashion.

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CABLE CROSSOVER

Martinez: “I do a crossover flye press here. First, I make sure I’m going wide enough to hit my outer pecs. I start the movement as a flye, then I drop my elbows and finish with a press. When I push at the end, I make sure I squeeze and extend my arms forward to achieve a full contraction. You’ll sometimes see people actually cross one hand over the other; I would rather just push and squeeze where my hands meet. Most people take that crossover name too literally.” 

 

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DIP

Martinez: “Dips require a lot of control. Most people don’t do them because they don’t feel the effect, and that’s likely because they’re doing them too fast and not focusing enough on form. When I lower down, I make sure my chin is really tucked into my upper pecs. I use dips for the bottom and outer sweep of the pecs—I’m concentrating on this area the entire time. I feel this gives me that sweeping look when I do a side-chest pose.”

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MACHINE SHOULDER PRESS

Morel: “I really prefer machine shoulder presses because I think they activate the muscles better than with free weight. Sometimes the stabilizing muscles do too much work when you use dumbbells or a barbell. With the machine, you can hit the shoulders hard without having to worry too much about your joints and hurting yourself. It’s kind of a safe way to overload the delts.”

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DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE

Delarosa: “A lot of people end up using more of their traps to get the weight up on lateral raises; they’re squeezing their traps before even really getting the shoulders to do the work. So one of the things I like to tell people is to lean slightly forward and let your shoulders sort of round out your back and completely relax. I find this gives me a better contraction in the side delt heads and makes for a more controlled movement. It’s just a slight lean forward, though; I don’t want people bending all the way over.”

 

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ALTERNATING DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE

Martinez: “Make sure your traps are relaxed when doing front raises so you don’t use too much of them on this movement. And when I say front raises, I’m not talking about kettlebell swings. No swinging. Keep full control of the weights and focus on the negative. And keep the dumbbells relatively light; when you go too heavy, you end up using your traps to lift the weight.”

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DUMBBELL SHRUG

Delarosa: “Relax the shoulders so that at your start point your traps are completely stretched out. Again, I’ll lean forward and bend my elbows up and back slightly. I get a little more of a contraction if I shrug up and then pull my shoulders back and up a little bit.”

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SEATED DUMBBELL REAR-DELT RAISE

Morel: “I don’t go heavy on these—I use just enough weight to get a good contraction and squeeze on the muscles. This is a really good exercise to target the rear delts. The front delts get stimulated when we do chest and shoulder presses and stuff like that. The rear delts, on the other hand, barely ever get stimulated, so if you don’t directly target them you could be underdeveloped in that area. You want to have your shoulders look like what they call a pumpkin. And if you don’t develop the rear delts, you won’t get that look.” 

 

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Per Bernal

 DOMINICAN-STYLE CHEST WORKOUTS 

MARTINEZ’S ROUTINE

  • Dumbbell Flye** | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–10
  • Barbell Bench Press or Dumbbell or Barbell Incline Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–10
  • Pec Deck Flye Cable Crossover | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–10
    • superset with Dip | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15

*These rep ranges refer to Martinez’s off-season workouts; pre-contest, he increases reps slightly, typically 12 to 15 per set.

**Martinez alternates between at bench and incline every other workout.  

MOREL’S ROUTINE

  • Barbell Bench Press | SETS: 5 | REPS: 12–15 
  • Smith Machine Incline Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
    • superset with Incline Machine Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
  • Hammer Strength Decline Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
    • superset with Flat Bench Machine Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
  • Dip | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
    • superset with Cable Crossover | SETS: 3 | REPS: 15

DELAROSA’S ROUTINE

  • Incline Barbell Press or Smith Machine Incline Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–12 
  • Incline Dumbbell Flye* | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–12
  • Flat Bench Dumbbell Press* | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–12
  • Flat Bench Hammer Strength Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–12
  • Cable Crossover** | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8–12

*De La Rosa alternates the order of these two exercises; sometimes he’ll do the press first, then the flye.

 **De La Rosa regularly alternates between cable crossovers, dumbbell yes, and pec deck yes.

 

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Per Bernal
Per Bernal

 DOMINICAN-STYLE DELTS/TRAPS WORKOUTS 

MARTINEZ’S ROUTINE

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 20, 15, 12, 10+ dropsets**
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press or Barbell or Hammer Strength Shoulder Press | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 8–10
  • Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise or Barbell Front Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10–12
  • Seated Dumbbell Rear-Delt Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10–12
    • superset with Dumbbell Shrug | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15

*These rep ranges refer to Martinez’s off-season workouts; pre-contest, he increases reps slightly, typically 12 to 15 per set.

**Martinez’s typical lateral raise routine, set by set: 20-pound dumbbells for 20 reps, 30s for 15 reps, 40s for 12 reps, 50s for 10 reps, then a dropset finisher, doing 10 reps each with 50s, 40s, 30s, and 20s.  

MOREL’S ROUTINE

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10
    • superset with Standing Dumbbell Rear-Delt Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10
  • Smith Machine Shoulder Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
  • Smith Machine Behind-the-Neck Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10–12
  • Shoulder Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
    • superset with Standing Machine Lateral Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
  • Machine Shoulder Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
    • superset with Seated Dumbbell Rear-Delt Raise or Reverse Pec Deck Flye | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–15
  • Seated Machine Lateral Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12–15
    • superset with Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12–15
  • Dumbbell Shrug | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12–15

DELAROSA’S ROUTINE

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 15 
  • Machine Shoulder Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press (seated) | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12
  • Dumbbell Rear-Delt Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
  • Dumbbell Shrug  | SETS: 6 | REPS: 15–20
 FLEX