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Photos by Per Bernal
Cody Montgomery's goal – to add size, with a slew of new cuts and detail that will give him the bullets to go toe to toe with any of the top IFBB pros on the planet.
One body part he’s devoted more attention to is his already mighty chest. “Overall, I want to build bigger pecs, but I’m really focusing on flye and incline movements specifically to help my upper chest and to help widen my pecs onstage to create a denser and wider-looking muscle,” he says. Today’s workout—which falls second in his training split, following a quadcentric leg day— has been designed to do just that.
Montgomery’s warmup is succinct. On his first exercise, the incline dumbbell press using an adjustable bench set at 45 degrees, he grabs 35-pound dumbbells and pumps out 12 reps. The 50-pound pair is next for another 12, followed by 75 for 10 reps. With that, he’s ready to roll.
“This is my heavy exercise of the day, where I’m really pushing to failure on the last set,” he says. The progression is simple and straightforward—first, 90 pounds for eight reps, then 100 pounds for another eight, and finally 110, where he barely ekes out the eighth and final rep.
Watch closely and you’ll also see an important nuance in Montgomery’s performance. While his warmups are done with an even, steady cadence—about two seconds up, two seconds down—his working sets are done with a dollop of primal urgency. On the way down, the weights travel slowly, as his elbows descend below the level of the bench into a deep, pec-distending stretch.
Then, suddenly, there’s an internal explosion as millions of muscle fibers in his chest, delts, and triceps instantly tighten and drive the weight overhead with a ferocious burst, coming to a controlled halt with the dumbbells an inch apart from each other above his chest.
“What I’m doing is going eight reps each set and pyramiding until I’m hitting failure right around that last rep,” Montgomery explains. “About once a month, I’ll switch this out for a dumbbell press on a slight incline, with the bench set just a click up from flat. That works the midchest and takes more of the shoulders out of the movement.”
Following up on dumbbell presses, Montgomery heads to the Smith machine for low-incline presses. “I’m a big believer in angles and hitting muscles from various angles during each workout, so I change it up here and set the bench a click or two below 45 degrees,” he says. “Also, with the Smith, the stimulation will be different from that of the freeweight press because the machine helps take emphasis away from the stabilizers and puts it right on the pecs.”
Montgomery starts with just one “feeler” set—“I’m warmed up by now, so I’m just feeling out the exercise with a lighter weight,” he explains—with a 45-pound plate on each side, doing 12 reps. He then slides another plate onto each side for the next three sets. Again, the concentric phase is rapid, the eccentric lowering of the bar performed with deliberation, as he aims for 10 reps per set. “This is one of the safer moves to be explosive out of the hole since you’re on a Smith with the bar on a fixed track,” he says. “You want to be able to move that weight with intent and not just find yourself grinding out the last few reps with broken form to get to 10.”
His advice on picking a weight? Strive for the heaviest you can handle with great form for 12 reps—essentially, you’ll be stopping a couple reps before failure on these sets. “It depends on the day and how you’re feeling, but some days you’ll be able to handle more,” Montgomery points out. “You should take advantage and pyramid up. You’ll know when you do a set, if it was really challenging, you’ve got your weight, but if it seemed particularly easy and you’re feeling strong, bump it up another 10 to 20 pounds. That’s how you’ll make progress over time.”
For the third exercise, it’s back to the adjustable bench and dumbbell rack for high-incline flyes, with the bench set about two notches above 45 degrees. “Here, I’m just trying to squeeze more blood into the upper chest and emphasizing the stretch at the bottom,” Montgomery explains. “After two presses, my chest is already pretty pumped, so three to four sets of 12 here really push that to the max.”
Watching the 5'7", 240-pound athlete work, the deep stretch is evident, as is the increasing difficulty of bringing the arms together overhead at the top as his taut pecs swell. His breathing grows more emphatic as the sets gnash onward, blowing out as the dumbbells rise, inhaling on the descent, starting with 25-pounders, then 35, then two more with 45s to finish.
After a couple of minutes perched on the bench following the final set, his flushed skin fades and his breathing slows to normal, and Montgomery turns his attention to a nearby flat-bench machine press. Slipping the pin out of the 40 slot, he reaches down to select 200, then lies back.
Grasping the handles firmly, he sucks in air, then in a swoosh presses the weight up to an elbows-extended position. From here, the reps commence, 12 in all, with a two-second cadence mirrored on the ascent and descent, separated by a onesecond hard squeeze at the top. The following three sets are done with 250, but with the same attention to the established tempo. As he would note afterward, “These aren’t about how much weight I’m lifting, they’re more about feeling the muscle contract.”
The workout nears its conclusion, but not before one more pulsequickening slugfest pairing the Hammer Strength decline press and pec deck into a final, punishing superset. “The muscles are already fatigued from pushing weight, so this is more of a way to open everything up now that there’s blood in there,” Montgomery says. “It’s a burnout. I like it because you can emphasize a deep stretch in the hole of the decline press and at the open position of the flye.”
He slides three plates per side on the Hammer Strength apparatus, while selecting 140 on the pec-deck station, then settles in for the presses. For 12 solid reps, he lowers the handles as deep as he can without allowing the weight to settle into its cradle, while on the pec deck, he maintains a shoulders-back position, driving the movement with his pectorals rather than his front delts through 15 determined reps. Four rounds later, exhausted, he calls off the onslaught and readies himself for calves, which he tacks to the end of his chest and arm workouts during the week.
MONTGOMERY’S CHEST WORKOUT
Incline Dumbbell Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10–12 (warmup)
Smith Machine Low-incline Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10
High-incline Dumbbell Flye | SETS: 3–4 | REPS: 12
Prone Iso-lateral Machine Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10
Hammer Strength Decline Press | SETS: 3–4 | REPS: 10–12
> superset with Pec-deck Flye or Cable Crossover | SETS: 3–4 | REPS: 15
MONTGOMERY’S “DELOADING” TRAINING SPLIT
DAY 1 | Legs (quadriceps emphasis)
DAY 2 | Chest and Calves
DAY 3 | Back
DAY 4 | Legs (hamstrings emphasis)
DAY 5 | Shoulders and Abs
DAY 6 | Arms and Calves
DAY 7 | Rest*
* The rest day is flexible and can fall anywhere during the week depending on travel and other commitments.