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THROUGH TALKING WITH HUNDREDS OF IFBB PROS OVER THE YEARS, WE’VE FOUND ONE INDELIBLE TRUTH: AS BODYBUILDERS GET OLDER, THEY TRAIN SMARTER.
Mark Dugdale is in his 40s and still going strong in the IFBB’s aesthetically pleasing 212 division. Following a memorable 2004 NPC USA light-heavyweight and overall title, Dugdale began carrying the torch as one of the few remaining well-known pro bodybuilders employing the high-intensity training style, à la Mike Mentzer in the 1980s and Dorian Yates in the 1990s. Not to be confused with HIIT (one “I,” not two), HIT involves relatively low training volume in terms of total working sets, yet each of those working sets is taken to absolute, pain-provoking, grunt-inducing failure.
The HIT style certainly worked for Dugdale (not to mention Yates before that), but it also exposed him to injury. Let’s be honest, injuries happen from time to time when you train intensely, whether you’re a professional athlete or just a passionate recreational gym rat. Yet Dugdale still decided he needed to tweak his workouts to stay healthy.
“My training philosophy has changed significantly from the HIT days of my 20s,” he says. “A minor pec tear on my second rep with 500 pounds on bench press in my late 30s forced me to reevaluate things. I train with a bit more volume and a significantly greater amount of frequency than I did earlier in my career. That’s not to say that I don’t still train with a high level of intensity, but the methods and timing in which I employ intensity techniques are much more intelligently implemented.”
Dugdale still sports one of the pro league’s most aesthetic physiques, proving his training wisdom is paying huge dividends into his 40s. His chest training routine featured here is a great example of his “muscle maturity”—both in appearance and practice.
FLAT BENCH DUMBBELL PRESS
Lie on a at bench and hold a set of dumbbells just above chest level with your palms facing forward and your wrists directly over your elbows. Press the dumbbells up and inward toward each other over your middle chest until your elbows are just shy of locked out. Bring the weights back down until your elbows form 90-degree angles.
DUGDALE SAYS “I prefer to press to only three-fourths lockout. It saves your elbow joints and ensures continuous tension on the pecs throughout the movement. Stabilizing dumbbells versus a barbell activates more muscle bers, which is why I typically include at least one pressing variation with dumbbells in each chest workout.”
Stand in the middle of a cable station with D-handles attached to the high-pulley cables. Begin with your arms extended out to your sides and elbows slightly bent. Step forward to make sure the weights aren’t resting on the stacks, then contract your pecs to pull your hands together, maintaining the slight bend in your elbows. At the end of the motion, squeeze your pecs hard for a count.
DUGDALE SAYS “I focus on the eccentric with cable yes, which means I bring my hands together and hold the contraction for a split second before slowly performing the negative portion of the movement with a five- second count. Every rep of every set must have this focused five-second negative. I like doing it this way for the mind-muscle connection. Holding the contraction for a split second and doing slow eccentrics really puts the blood into the pecs.”
Hold yourself between the bars of a dip apparatus with your arms extended. Lower under control until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and you feel a stretch in your chest, then push with your chest and triceps to lift yourself back to the start position.
DUGDALE SAYS “I like finishing a chest workout with dips because I believe it’s beneficial to stretch the pecs once they’re fully pumped. Dips invariably work the triceps secondarily, which serves as a good warmup to the triceps exercises I’ll do later in the same workout.”
MARK DUGDALE’S CHEST WORKOUT