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My Top 3 Chest-Building Exercises

chest-mass

What is Monday?

It's National Chest Day.

Having a big chest is awesome.

The great news is is that it's not complicated to build one.

It's actually quite simple.

Select just a few compound exercises and get really strong in them in the 8-12 rep range.

The following are 3 awesome chest-building exercises.

Again, focus on 1,2, or all 3 of them.

Add weight when you can.

90% of the work you do should be in the 8-12 rep range.

1. Push Ups (weighted)

I am convinced that push ups are the best mass builder for your chest.

I do not know why competitive bodybuilders do not make them a go-to exercise.

I think it's because they are viewed as a sissy exercise or something you warm up with.

If you took 2 people and had 1 of them perform barbell bench presses for 3 sets of 10 reps and you took the other person, placed a 45 pound plate on their back and had them do 3 sets of 10 of push ups, over time the push up person would have a bigger chest.

My #1 tip is that if you want a big, awesome chest then get really good at weighted push ups.

2. Dips

Dips are freakin' amazing.

My favorite exercise of all-time is the dip machine.

You sit down and select a weight and it simulates a dip as if you were doing them on bars.

Unfortunately, dips are also a very risky exercise for your shoulders.

If you have bad shoulders or have had shoulder issues I would stay away from them.

If you love them like me, then what you should do is to do them at the end of your workout.

Pre-exhaust yourself.

For example, do 200 push ups over X amount of sets.

At that point you are pretty tired.

At that point you can bang out a couple sets on the dip machine.

You would be using a much lighter weight yet it would feel much heavier, therefore, reducing the risk of injury.

3. Dumbbell Bench Press

When bench pressing, ditch the barbell.

Your chest is not optimally targeted when performing barbell bench presses.

In addition, there is a huge risk of injury.

Use dumbbells.

Dumbbells allow you to form the mind-muscle connection.

They are also much safer.

Here is a Chest Specialization Split (follow for 3 months)

 Monday

1) Push Ups 7 x 8-12 reps

2) Seated Cable Rows 4 x 8-12 reps

3)  Alternating Dumbbell Curls  2 x 15-20 reps

Tuesday – Cardio or Off

Wednesday

1) Dips  7 x 8-12 reps

2a) Triceps Pressdowns 2 x 15-20 reps

2b) Lateral Raises  2 x 15-20 reps

Thursday

1a)  Hack Squats  4 x 15-20 reps

1b)  Hamstring Curls  4 x 15-20 reps

2)  Standing Calf Raises  4 x 15-20 reps

Friday

1) Dumbbell Bench Press 7 x 8-12 reps

2) Lat Pulldowns  4 x 12-15 reps

Saturday & Sunday – Cardio or Off

Weekly Totals:

Chest – 21 Sets

Back – 8 Sets

Quads – 4 Sets

Hamstrings – 4 Sets

Calves – 4 Sets

Biceps – 2 Sets

Triceps – 2 Sets

Shoulders – 2 Sets

My New Favorite Chest Exercise – Incline Bench Press

incline-bench-press

I've been very fond of the flat bench press my entire bodybuilding career, but I've lately developed a love of the incline bench press.

It offers similar benefits as the flat press, but with little of the ill effects (for me, at least) that flat benches bring.

First, the flat bench press tends to overemphasize the lower pecs; you can get that “droopy pec” syndrome, where your lower pecs completely overpower your upper pecs and you lose some balance in your pecs.

Incline bench presses eliminate that because they really focus on the upper pecs. These are especially great if you've been doing flats and declines for quite some time.

Second, for me at least, a lot of the shoulder joint discomfort I was having with the flat benches is completely gone. I'm in a new groove. And it's helping me build stronger delts, too!

I want to mention that I use a Smith machine. I've never been one to train well with partners (I have too many individual idiosyncrasies that I drive training partners nuts), and rather than rely on somebody I don't know to spot me, I just use a Smith machine.

I am aware that I lose some of the benefit of the exercise in terms of almost completely giving up on strengthening the stabilizing muscles (but I do other work for them, like dips and dumbbell work, which are better than barbells any day of the week), but I'm focusing here on maximal effort. I do a rest-pause with these. Here's a typical set/rep combo:

  • Set #1 10 reps, mostly a warm up, with about a minute rest
  • Set #2 10 reps with increased weight, with about a minute rest
  • Set #3 8 reps with more weight, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Set #4 As many reps as possible with same weight (usually 2-4), followed by 10 seconds rest
  • Set #5 Same as #4
  • Set #6 As many reps as possible with substantially-reduced weight (try to get at least 10 reps out, but I've been known to pump out 15-20)

I've found this system, practiced on my 3-day split (Chest and Deads day one, Legs & Arms day 3, Back & Delts day 5), allows me to beat the hell out of my pecs yet gives me a week to recover (it sometimes takes 6 days for the soreness to wear off). I follow up this chest workout with my Deadlift routine (it's short, but it's killer!) – this will be the topic of my next post.

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