Workout Routines

Your Perfect Body Game Plan: The Chest

Go beyond the bench with these effective chest-building moves.

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Your perfect body game plan for 2017
Marius Bugge

"Nobody likes a chicken chest," says trainer Murphy, and we can’t argue with him. If you want to project an image of strength and power, a broad, chiseled chest is one of the oldest, most time-honored ways of doing it. But there are better ways to build pecs than the bench press. “The bench does work the chest,” Murphy says, “but it also works a bunch of related muscles, like the deltoids and triceps, among others.” With these other exercises added to your once-a-week pec workout, you’ll have a “chest you can balance a beer on” in no time.

Murphy first suggests the highly underrated decline dumbbell press. “It activates more available pec fibers than any other exercise,” he says. “It’s almost all pec because the range of motion is so short that your delts and triceps don’t do a ton of work.” The angle also allows you to use heavier weights, which equates to more work and a bigger chest. (Using a weight that allows 10 to 12 reps on your first set, perform five sets, pushing each one until you’re one rep shy of failure.

Then it’s on to flyes. Murphy advises using bands or chains to put less wear and tear on the shoulders. (When the weight unloads as you go down on chain flyes, your shoulders will be safer at the bottom and you’ll get a more powerful pec contraction at the shoulder.) With bands, you can loop an exercise band around each hand and behind your back before picking up dumbbells. (Do four sets of 15 to 20 reps.)

Finally, “dips are like the squat for the upper body,” says Murphy, “in that they’re a great way to increase pec mass.” They press the muscles fully and also hit stabilizing lats and abs hard when done with proper technique. (Perform 50 dips in as few sets as possible.)

But to really stimulate growth, try suspension trainer flyes, which utilize full-body tension. “Plus, it’s done from an angle that you hardly ever use when doing presses,” Murphy says, “which creates a totally new stimulus that causes your nervous system and muscles to work differently, stimulating growth.” To do it, ensure that you’re maintaining a strong plank position throughout each flye. Perform 40 total in as few sets as possible, using a body angle of 45°.

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