Workouts and tips from Jeremy Buendia, the world’s top physique competitor
Three years doesn’t seem like a very long time to most. To Jeremy Buendia, it was basically a lifetime ago.
That’s when Buendia, a 21-year-old aspiring bodybuilder at the time, decided to leave his past behind, in a sense, and make the transition to the newly-formed Men’s Physique division.
Last September, Buendia reached that goal and solidified his status as the No. 1 competitor in the Men’s Physique division by winning the prestigious Men’s Physique Showdown at the industry’s biggest event, Joe Weider’s Olympia Weekend.
This weekend, he’ll look to defend his title and become the division’s first two-time Olympia champion. Here, Buendia shares his workout and tips for building a wider, fuller chest.
“Even though it’s a strength, chest is always priority area for me,” Buendia says. “It gives me that more balanced, more powerful physique look and that’s what stands out for me.
Buendia starts every workout with a 10 to 15 minute warmup, which includes a variation of shoulder rotation and light shoulder exercises, stretching, foam rolling and very light overhead squats.
“Overhead squats connect the whole kinetic chain,” Buendia says. “When I’m lifting I want everything to be working together. When you’re doing an overhead squat, everything along your back, your lower back, your hamstrings, everything has to be activated in order to nail that exercise correctly. It’s a good warmup for the whole body.”
EXERCISE #1: Incline Dumbbell Press
Reps: 15, 12, 10, 8, 8, 15-20* (drop set)
“I always start off with dumbbell incline, I like to go really heavy on those. I’ll almost always do a drop set for my last set last set – 15-20 reps real nice and slow. I’ll drop down to about 60 percent of my one-rep max and just do real slow negatives, feeling it out and getting a deep stretch. My last set is always a lighter set where I where I just focus on technique and feeling the muscle.
“The focus here is using exact proper form – I see everybody doing bench presses wrong, utilizing their front delts and traps too much. I always roll my shoulders down and back, it just enables me to open up my chest a little more. I don’t ever lock out either, I always stop about three-quarters of the way up to keep constant tension on the muscle and go below 90 degrees on the bottom portion.”
EXERCISE #2: Hammer Strength Incline Press
“I do these a little bit different. I like to do 5 full reps and then do a static hold at the top with my left arm and do five with my right arm, then do the same thing with the other side and then finish with a burnout of five more reps. I don’t go very heavy on Hammer Strength at all because I really like to emphasize squeezing the pecs to really nail the upper chest.
“Compensations can take place on either side of the body, so I start by hitting the muscle together and then like to do one arm at a time to isolate each side a little bit more. When I finish off those last five reps, all those muscle fibers are activated on both sides. When I’m holding in the static position, I’m not locked out, so my chest is still contracted and there is always tension on the muscle.”
EXERCISE #3: Incline Dumbbell Flye
Reps: 15, 12, 10, 10
“I don’t go heavy on these because I’ve had a pec tear before. I like to really take the exercise nice and slow. I don’t go as deep on these as I do incline presses, I keep my arms extended pretty well and don’t bend my elbows as much as most people – just a slight bend in my elbows to really emphasize that stretch. I feel like I can activate the pecs more, go a little bit lighter and limit my range of motion.”
EXERCISE #4: Incline Smith Machine Press
Reps: To failure (10-15 reps)
I do a combination partial to full rep on these, which I count as one rep, using up to 225 pounds. I come all the way down, controlling the weight, do a partial rep where I go halfway up, lower the back down and then do my full rep. That’s one rep for me on these. I just feel it gives me a better pump, a better mind-muscle connection. Again I’m not locking out at the top of the full rep to keep tension on the chest. I go to failure on these since they’re towards the end of the workout, which is typically between 10 and 15 reps.”
EXERCISE #5: Cable Flye
“I usually end with FST-7 on this exercise. I’m just basically trying to overwhelm the muscle with blood flow. It’s constant tension on the muscle and with short rest periods – 20 seconds between sets – you’re going to optimize the pump. Towards the end of the workout, my strength is basically gone at that point so it’s just about feeling and squeezing the muscle. I’m still able to finish strong with this technique even though it’s the end of my workout.”