Nick Walker’s rise in the IFBB Pro League has been blazing fast. Within a year of turning pro, he won the 2021 Arnold Classic and 2021 New York Pro. “The Mutant” followed it up with a fifth-place finish at his Olympia debut in 2021. He returned even sharper one year later to improve by two ranks into the bronze position.
On July 13, 2023, Walker unveiled his secret to building an Olympia-level chest that he has implemented in his off-season to help dethrone reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan. When recording, Walker was 17 weeks out of the 2023 Olympia, scheduled for Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, FL. Check out Walker’s push day at the Dragon’s Lair gym in Las Vegas, NV, in the video below, courtesy of his YouTube channel:
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At this stage of his off-season, Walker’s decreased his calorie intake and increased his cardio frequency for a smoother transition into his upcoming cutting phase. Although Walker didn’t reveal his new daily calorie goal, he asserted he would stick to it until approximately a month out of the Olympia. From there, he’ll cut further to achieve his razor-sharp conditioning from him.
Nick Walker’s High-Volume Push-Day Workout
Walker’s push-day comprised seven exercises:
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Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Walker lifted 130-pound dumbbells through his full range of motion in his first set. He acknowledged that he could lift heavier than 130 pounds, but his main objective was to follow a controlled rep tempo. He allowed the dumbbells to pull his chest into a deep stretch, paused at the bottom, and then pushed through the concentric with a squeeze at the top.
That squeeze is the critical change in Walker’s form — he cues bringing his elbows as close together as possible to fully shorten the pecs.
All the way down, pause, and come up…force your elbows together and squeeze the dumbbells at the top. That’s how you grow your chest.
Walker believes that eccentrics are the most fatiguing part of the lift. Slow negatives offer more time under tension and can be effective for hypertrophy. A 2015 meta-analysis in sports medicine showed results indicated hypertrophic outcomes with rep durations in the five-to-eight-second range. (1)
Machine Chest Press & Dips
“It’s all about the stretch and the squeeze. Contracting the muscle throughout every rep,” Walker stated as he’s found remarkable chest progress since using this technique. While performing dips, Walker lowered himself until his upper arms paralleled the floor. He paused for a second at the bottom, exploded through the eccentric but stopped shy of full elbow extension. Similar to the bench press, he contracted his pecs at the top.
People really underestimate what bodyweight [exercises] can do,
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Walker’s Secret To Building Chest
“The secret to getting a big chest is in the elbow,” explained Walker. Using the pec deck flye as an example, Walker explained that one shouldn’t try to ‘hug a bear’ during concentrics. Instead, bring the elbows together to shorten the pecs to their fully contracted position. Keeping the elbows bent at the top stymies the pecs from moving through their full range of motion, potentially limiting progress.
“You almost want to close the elbows together [at the top],” Walker said. “Trust me, the [chest] contraction will feel much better.”
2023 Mr. Olympia
Walker’s third-place finish at the 2022 Olympia earned him a direct qualification for the 2023 Olympia. The reigning champion Hadi Choopan, 2022 Olympia silver medalist Derek Lunsford, and 2023 Arnold Classic winner Samson Dauda are likely Walker’s most formidable competitors at the 2023 Olympia.
Schoenfeld, BJ, Ogborn, DI, & Krieger, JW (2015). Effect of repetition duration during resistance training on muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, NZ), 45(4), 577–585. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0304-0
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram