Samson Dauda Trains Chest and Calves with Classic Physique Olympia Competitor Michael Daboul 


The Nigerian Lion turned heads with his high-volume approach.

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Although they compete in different divisions, Samson Dauda and Michael Daboul share the same goal: to build a championship-level physique in time for the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest. With the former coming off a sixth-place debut in the Men’s Open division of last year’s contest and the latter looking to improve upon a 10th-place finish at the Classic Physique Olympia, both men have ample motivation to make everyone forget about those 2022 Olympia results.

As the biggest bodybuilding show of the year inches closer, Dauda and Daboul can’t afford to make any mistakes with their nutrition or training. Just six weeks away from getting to pose for the judges in Orlando, FL, the dynamic duo teamed up for a demanding chest and calves workout that left no doubt about their commitment to being stage-ready by Nov. 2.

Dauda shared highlights from an intense muscle-building session with Daboul in a training vlog posted on his YouTube channel on Sept. 25, 2023. The workout begins around the 1:15 mark.

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No strangers to individual success — Dauda captured top honors at the 2023 Arnold Classic while Daboul won his division at the 2023 New York Pro — the two IFBB pros put in some serious work at the UK-based Factory Gym.

Don’t let the number of exercises fool you, either. Even though Dauda and Daboul didn’t perform a long list of movements, the intensity and structure of the workout provided more than a sufficient stimulus for maximum muscle growth.

Superset: Seated Calf Raise with Standing Calf Raise

Building bulging calves can be quite the challenge. However, Dauda’s method for increasing size and thickness clearly works. Instead of settling for one exercise at a time, the man known as “The Nigerian Lion” doubled-down on his calf-building efforts by utilizing a superset-style plan of attack.

Dauda and his training partners started the workout by alternating between seated calf raises and standing calf raises. The leg-oriented part of the session included grueling sets of 15 repetitions that focused on squeezing at the top of the movement to ensure adequate time under tension.

As if performing multiple versions of calf raises wasn’t challenging enough, Dauda raised the stakes with a blood-pumping finisher.

“We get to the point where we’re maxing out on our heavier set,” he explained. “Then we did a drop set on the seated calf where basically every five [reps] we took 10 kilos [22 pounds] off and worked our way down without stopping.”

Incline Chest Press Machine

After exhausting their calves, Dauda and Daboul showcased their upper-body strength and endurance on a plate-loaded incline chest press machine. Once again, this portion of the workout featured a high-volume, high-intensity approach.

Working in a pyramid-style, the bodybuilders began with a warm-up set of 15 repetitions with a pair of 20-kilogram (44-pound) plates per side. They progressed all the way up to a total of 10 plates before employing a drop-set finisher in which they performed multiple “mini-sets” of five reps, removing two plates at a time until only four plates remained.

Superset: Iso-Lateral Incline Chest Press with Standing Flye Machine

Next, Dauda took things to another level with yet another superset. This time, he and his training partner performed sets of 12 repetitions on the seated incline chest press to target the pecs and triceps. The “iso-lateral” design of the machine allowed each lever arm to operate independently, similar to dumbbells. They paired this compound movement with chest flyes on the Panatta Standing Multi-Flight machine — a unique device with adjustable handles that allow a variety of flyes and lateral raises.

Dauda specifically noted that the focus of the second exercise was “contracting and squeezing” to build the thickness of the muscle and bring out the striations of the chest.

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Incline Hex Press

To finish, Dauda and Daboul used a distinct version of an incline dumbbell press — squeezing the weights together throughout the movement to create an incline hex press. The Nigerian Lion started with 20-kilogram (44-pound) dumbbells while Daboul, “The Saharan Eagle,” worked with 16-kilogram (35-pound) weights.

They focused on touching the dumbbells together, slowly lowering the weight to chest level before extending and locking out their triceps. By the time the workout concluded, Daboul had a new appreciation for his fellow Mr. Olympia contestant’s unique training style.

“I train intense but not in that high volume,” Daboul said. “The combination that he has of high intensity and high volume — not everyone can keep up. I tried to keep up in the first two exercises and then I was exhausted.”

Superset-Centric Chest and Calves Workout

Dauda’s idea of utilizing high-volume training (sets of 12-15 reps) with heavy loads will test your strength and your endurance. Here’s a breakdown of the exercises performed in what was clearly a taxing workout for everyone involved:

  • Superset: Seated Calf Raise with Standing Calf Raise 
  • Incline Chest Press Machine
  • Superset: Iso-Lateral Incline Chest Press with Standing Flye Machine
  • Incline Hex Press

Despite including just six exercises, this high-volume workout will surely deliver results. Utilizing principles like supersets and drop sets, along with working at such a high intensity, should bolster anyone’s efforts to grow muscle and overall size. And if Dauda and Daboul continue to build upon their impressive showings this year at the 2023 Olympia, they might have a chance to celebrate together.

Featured Image: Samson Dauda / YouTube



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