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by Anthony Millar of dotfitness.co.uk
The chest is arguably one of the most desirable of body-parts for a man to develop. The appearance of a pair of hard, well developed pectorals, which look dense and shapely from every angle, is quite dramatic. Even better if matched with arms that are also full and powerful looking. However if truth be told the development of the chest is demanding and requires no less than 12 working sets performed of the highest quality, with a healthy dose of intensity. No less than 100% commitment is required if you are to succeed where so many others have failed. There is also a need for strict attention regarding technique and intensity, all of which are elaborated in the following text. Remember to keep the workouts short and simple. Just get in there, get the job done and get out so you can concentrate more on recuperating and nutrition.
1. The Flat Bench Press. 2 Warm-up Sets. 4 Working Sets.
20 repetitions of 10% of the maximum weight that can be lifted once (1rep max)
20 repetitions of 20% of 1rep max.
10 repetitions of 50% of 1 rep max.
8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
6-8 repetitions of 80% of 1 rep max.
3-4 repetitions of 90% of 1 rep max.
Description: This exercise predominantly works the main ‘bulk’ area of the chest, the triceps (back of arm) and posterior deltoid (front of shoulder) are worked secondary as they assist in the ‘pressing’ of the weight. The flat bench press is a compound movement, i.e. multi-muscle and multi-joint, which by nature is both a strength and mass builder for the entire upper body if done correctly. Approach this exercise first in most workouts (3 out of 4), whilst on the 4rth session switch to pre-exhaustion. Which involves are more isolating movement to begin with followed by the more compound pressing movements. The bench press exercise can be performed using either a barbell or dumbbells, it is a good idea to alternate between the two to keep the muscles ‘guessing.’
Technique: As ever technique is absolutely crucial, slowly lower the bar all the way down to around nipple level as you take a deep breath in. Then exhale as you push the weight to the original starting position above the shoulder girdle. Never allow the weight to bounce off your chest and concentrate on squeezing the blood into the working muscles by maintaining this strict form. There should be absolutely no movement or arching in the lower back area, to avoid this simply raise and cross your feet.
Intensity: First of all read the article on training intensity carefully, this will provide you with all the background knowledge you require. As this is a compound movement demanding large amounts of energy, it is not generally advisable to make use of the variety of recommended intensity techniques, especially at this early stage. However there is absolutely no reason why you should not slowly reduce your resting times on all these sets from 3 minutes to 2 minutes over the initial 3 week period.
2. The Incline Bench Press. 4 Working Sets..
1. 8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
3. 6-8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
4. 4-6 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
Description: Again as with the flat bench, this is a multi-muscle compound movement, designed to increase the upper body’s strength and mass. Although this exercise differs, inasmuch as this exercises prioritises the working of the pectoralis minor (the upper chest). The same muscles i.e. the posterior deltoid and triceps assist in this movement, which is fairly similar to the flat bench version. This exercise can also be approached first in your workout every other session and can also be performed using either a barbell or dumbbells. In general it is advisable to use dumbbells if your flat bench press is conducted with the use of a barbell and visa-versa.
Technique: Slowly lower the barbell/dumbbell all the way down to the upper chest (approx. 2inch lower than collar bone), as you inhale. Exhale as you push the weight back to the original starting position directly above the posterior deltoid. It is important to make use of the full range of movement as this will encourage full development of the working muscles. Do not under any circumstances bounce the weights off the chest. Perform each repetition slowly and methodically so that the maximum amount of blood can be pumped into the target area.
Intensity: As this is also a compound movement demanding large amounts of energy, it is not generally advisable to make use of the variety of recommended intensity techniques, especially at this early stage. However there is absolutely no reason why you should not slowly reduce your resting times on all these sets from 3 minutes to 2 minutes over an initial 3 week period.
3. The Flat Flyes/Incline Flyes/ ‘Pec-Dec.’ 4 Working Sets.
1. 10 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
3. 8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
4. 6 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
Description: To conclude your chest workout, (or begin if pre-exhausting) it can be very beneficial to adopt a more isolating approach, inasmuch as the triceps and posterior deltoids are worked significantly less. At this point all the heavy lifting has been done and all the respective target muscles have been broken down. It is now time to add quality and shape to the chest, particularly the upper and inner regions. It is our opinion that the muscles are best shocked by alternating between the above 3 exercises. Obviously the incline flyes will predominantly work the upper pectoral more.
Technique: As the ’Pec-Dec’ is a machine, the range of movement is pretty much dictated to you. Although it is always of vital importance to keep this range of movement as large as possible and remember to exhale as the muscles contract. The ’flyes’ however require a very strict form, if the most is to be gained out of the exercise. To start with lay on the bench, whether it be flat or incline with the dumbbells held together with palms facing each other, directly above the shoulder girdle with your elbows ever so slightly bent. Take a deep breath in as you slowly open up your arms, flexing your elbows into a 45 degree position. This should help expand the rib-cage as a fantastic stretch should be placed upon the entire chest. Exhale slowly as you rhythmically bring your arms back together in a slow controlled fashion. For fantastic inner chest development squeeze the weights toward each other, bringing your little fingers together during the last 8 inches of the movement.
Intensity: Isolating movements generally require less effort which opens them up for the recommended intensity techniques. However after 8 working sets of intense ’pressing’ do not worry if you are to tired. The important thing to remember is to achieve a sound grasp of the exercises and their techniques as you are a relative beginner. This builds the foundations for more advanced training methods as you progress. Although if fast progress is made and you do choose an intensity technique may we recommend ’rest-pause’ (see article) as this will really finish off the chest with a bang. For the first 3 weeks though try to reduce your resting times from 3 minutes to only 2.
In conclusion then this workout is aimed at anyone wishing to add size and shape to their chest. Please note that over time the chest will adapt to the various stimuli so therefore it is essential that both the weights and movements are constantly changed. The weights for example should be slightly increased when the final set can be performed with perfect technique for more than the designated number of repetitions. As for the movements stick to only 3 but every now and again include, a decline movement of some kind, ‘dips’ and cable cross-overs. Remember to make each workout slightly different to the previous one ensuring constant stimulation to the working muscles.
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