Matus Valent is a veteran fitness model with appearances in over 80 different magazines and 10 covers. At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, his rugged good looks and athletic build made him a fitness superstar. His wide shoulders, a broad chest and chiseled abs has landed him appearances on season three of “Janice Dickinson’s Modeling Agency” on the Oxygen Network and on a commercial for the Shake Weight home fitness product. Matus was born in 1981 in Bratislava, in what is now the Slovak Republic. He was a standout volleyball player and even earned a spot on the national team at age 19. His true love was bodybuilding- a passion he inherited from his father. “I was only 14 or 15 when I started working out at home, and the volleyball coaches were very much against it,” he says. “They were convinced that weights would make me slower and less flexible- but I actually became a more powerful and faster player.” After completing his Masters degree in Physical Education and Sports Management, Matus immigrated to Southern California.
Dedicated to Looking Great
After competing successfully in several modeling competitions, Matus settled into a career as one of the most sought-after fitness models in the industry. Though favorable genes certainly play a part in his impressive muscular physique, Valent’s hard work is the key to his success. Five nights a week you can find him in the gym for an average of two to two-and-a-half hours. His program emphasizes the moneymakers: chest, shoulders, and abs. “I train my legs, back, and arms very hard,” he tells us. “These areas are the essential for fitness modeling. Without having them, you have little possibility for success.” Matus also eats a healthy diet all year, so that the hard work he invests in his abs is visible at all times. “Anyone can have 20-inch arms or a huge chest, but having a shredded six-pack shows the real level of fitness, and that is the first thing people notice about you when walking shirtless on the beach.” We talked to Matus to get the lowdown on what he does to build his showpiece body parts.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Matus gets the most compliments on his chest, and it’s also his favorite body part to train. “I get a great pump every time I work chest, and it’s always responded well.” He trains it every Monday and Thursday with about 32 total sets. “I never care much about being the strongest guy in the gym or trying hard to achieve any incredible lift records,” Matus states. “My personal best in bench press is 345 pounds, but mostly I perform my sets with weight under 300 pounds.”
Various presses form the foundation of Valent’s chest routine, but he always starts with the all-time most popular version- the flat barbell bench press. “It makes sense to begin any workout with the most basic and productive free-weight exercise for the chest muscles while I’m fresh,” he says. He’ll do a total of 8 sets, pyramiding up in weight and down in reps for 5 sets, then reversing the order for a final 3 sets. After a few more sets on a pec deck, his next pressing exercise for chest is the seated Hammer Strength machine press.
Along with barbell and machine presses, Matus includes dips as a highly effective compound movement to assist his chest exercises. “I do these leaning forward on chest day, and upright when I use them to work triceps.” His own bodyweight provides sufficient resistance for 4 sets of 12 reps.
Matus does 5 sets of cable crossovers. “Pressing movements will build the bulk in your chest, but you need to include flys if you want the absolute best shape and detail,” Valent declares. At his first chest workout of the week, he sets the cable pulleys high and performs crossovers the standard way. At the second session, Valent drops the pulleys to their lowest position and does a movement that more closely resembles the act of scooping up from the hips to a point in front of his upper pecs. “That hits the upper and inner regions of the pecs perfectly.”
Broad shoulders are essential for achieving the V-taper. They need to be wide, round, and manly. Matus trains his shoulders once a week. “Because they are involved in the chest workouts as well as my back day, working shoulders any more often would probably amount to overtraining.”
The overhead press is his primary shoulder exercise because it delivers the most ‘bang for the buck.’ Pressing behind the neck is often demonized as being akin to committing rotator cuff suicide, but he feels it’s safe when done properly. “Lower the bar only to the point where your upper arms are parallel to the ground, and no lower,” he advises. “That’s the safe range of motion. Going lower than that overloads the rotator cuff muscles.”
Valent does his share of lateral raises, but he also devotes time to other isolation movements to target the anterior or front delts: the front raise performed in alternating fashion with dumbbells, then with a barbell. “Most of the time I’m photographed either straight on or from just a slight angle, so maximal development of my front delts is critical,” he explains.
The abdominals are his second favorite body part to train. He trains them five days a week and makes a real effort to go heavy. “Having a nice big six-pack requires treating it like other muscles,” he tells us. “You can look lean and do 1,000 crunches a day, but your ab muscles will never grow bigger and have that 3-D look. That’s why I use plates, dumbbells and heavy weights on machines, so I can achieve some reasonable size.”
Valent starts his ab workout with 3 sets of heavy crunches on a flat bench, holding one or two 25-pound plates behind his head for added resistance. After performing as many reps to failure as possible, usually about 15-20, he drops plates and does another 10 reps with bodyweight. Matus does seated leg raises from the edge of a flat bench. “Regular crunches do a great job of working the upper abs, but you must do leg raises for the lower abs. It’s also important that you lower your legs slowly and keep tension on the abs for the duration of the set.”
Hanging Leg Raises
The hanging leg raise is an excellent exercise to hit the often hard-to-reach lower abs. Strict form pays dividends, so avoid swinging the legs and make the movement slow and controlled.
Put in the Work, Reap the Rewards
Matus Valent is living proof that hard work and dedication in the gym pays off. Apply his training principles to your own chest, shoulders, and abs for a killer V-taper that will look impressive with your shirt on- and even better shirtless. You might not be a famous fitness model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your share of attention by having a ripped, cut body with a “V-taper” look. Website: www.MatusValent.com
Monday: Chest and biceps Tuesday: Legs Wednesday: Back and triceps Thursday: Chest and biceps Friday: Shoulders and calves *Abs are trained every day, Monday through Friday.
Daily Diet and Supplements
9 AM – 3 slices wheat toast with turkey breast – Natural peanut or almond butter or Nutella spread – Glass whole milk 11:30 AM – Whey isolate shake made with whole milk 2 PM – Grilled chicken breast, 1 cup white rice 6 PM – High-protein yogurt, 1 banana, KreAlkyln, nitric oxide pills 7-9:30 PM – Train 9:30 PM – Whey isolate shake made with whole milk, L-Glutamine – All daily vitamins and minerals: B, C, E, A&D, Chromium, – Potassium, Selenium, Magnesium, and Zinc 10:30 p.m. Steak or salmon
Flat barbell bench press – 8 x 18, 10, 10, 6, 4, 10, 12, 15 Hammer vertical bench press – 4 x 8-10 Pec fly machine – 5 x 8-10 Wide-grip dips – 4 x 12 Cable crossover – 5 x 12 Incline Smith press – 5 x 8-10
Overhead press – 5 x 8-10 Seated lateral raise machine – 5 x 10 Front dumbbell raise – 5 x 9-10 each arm Front barbell raises – 5 x 8-10 Standing dumbbell lateral raise – 5 x 8-10 Superset with Standing shrug machine – 5 x 12-15
Crunches holding weight behind head – 3 x 15-20 Leg raises on bench – 3 x 12-16 Machine crunche – 3 x 18-20 Oblique twist machine – 2 x 10-12 reps each side Roman chair leg lift – 3 x 12