Workout Routines

Proper Pec-Pounding

Take an intelligent approach to building a bigger, stronger chest.

bodybuilder chest close-up
Duration 2 days
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

Picture the chest development of Arnold Schwarzennegger, Franco Columbo, and Lou Ferrigno in their prime, or modern day beasts like Johnny Jackson and Phil Heath. What do all of these incredible bodybuilders have in common? Each of them display (or displayed in their era) not only massive pecs, but also complete chest development, from outer to inner, and upper to lower. This is not something that occurred purely by accident, but was the result of a carefully devised training program that gives proper attention to all areas of the pecs. Yes, of course genetics are involved, however, they do not tell the complete story.

Most of the trainees I see toiling away in the gym spend most of their time on the bench press, which can be a mistake. While this certainly is a wonderful pec builder, over reliance on this movement can give the chest a saggy appearance. In my experience, the upper chest is much more stubborn to grow and thus needs even more stimulation than the mid and lower pecs. Personally as a coach to hundreds of lifters, I feel that all trainees should spend the majority of their chest training on movements that target the upper chest in order to achieve a balanced look.

But before we get into a recommended routine, I feel it is my duty as a trainer to discuss a key element in chest training that 99% of all trainees ignore: Proper body positioning for maximum recruitment of the pectorals, while minimizing the involvement of the delts and tris. Until this concept is understood and executed properly you will never reach the genetic potential of your chest, especially the upper (clavicular head). Here is what you need to do before beginning any pec exercise:

          1. Lay down on the bench and set your feet firmly on the floor.

          2. Arch your lower back slightly.

          3. Raise your ribcage up high.

          4. Squeeze your scapulae together.

          5. Pull your shoulders downward and push them into the bench.          

These same principles apply to dips, crossovers, and seated press and flye machines as well, even if a bench is not involved in the movement.

Now you are in position to achieve maximum pectoral recruitment with far less delt and triceps interference. The key, however, is to keep your body in this position throughout the set. It is not enough to start this way and then slowly revert back to bad habits as the set progresses. You must learn to “lock” your body in this position and stay there from the first to the last rep! Got it? Good! Now, lets hit the gym and pound those pecs!

Alternate the chest workouts shown below, doing one per week on your chest training day.

Workout 1

Exercise 1

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
Incline Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
4-6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Flat Dumbbell Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press thumbnail
3 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Incline Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Incline Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Cable Crossover You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to
Cable Crossover thumbnail
3 sets
13-15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Dumbbell Pullover
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest

Workout 2

Exercise 1

Hammer-Strength Incline Press
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
4-6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Warrior Fit Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest
60 degree incline

Exercise 3

Weighted Dip You'll need: Dip Station, Ankle Weights How to
Weighted Dip thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
3 sets
13-15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Cable Crossover You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to
Cable Crossover thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
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