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“I consider chest one of my strongest body parts. It’s a muscle group for me that combines size and volume with well- defined striations, especially in front lat spread and side chest poses,” says Brazilian 212 competitor Eduardo Correa.
That said, Correa doesn’t exactly ignore his pecs in the gym. He trains them twice a week with fairly high volume using a basic workout template like the one following—compound movements mixed with isolation exercises in the hypertrophy- friendly 10- to 15-rep range. Quality is key for Correa, who favors strict reps on machines versus piling plates on a bar to try and impress others with a big bench press. His featured chest workout is living proof of this, as only one of the four exercises involves free weights, and that free weight is only body weight.
Indeed, Eduardo Correa takes a cerebral approach to his training. Here, he shares a few more keen insights into developing pecs to their fullest.
HAMMER STRENGTH INCLINE PRESS
Adjust the seat of a Hammer Strength incline press machine so that the handles are just outside your chest. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back and head against the seat back. Grab the handles to assume a grip just outside shoulder width and start in the down position (elbows fully bent).
Press the weight up explosively but under control until your elbows are extended but not locked out. Slowly lower the handles back down to the start position, keeping constant tension on the pecs by not letting the weight rest on the rubber pads between reps.
“Avoid using the shoulders while pushing the weight; using a narrow hand placement may help you do this. Concentrate on the pec muscles to intensify the peak contraction.”
Adjust the seat of the machine so that the handles are at chest level. Sit on the seat with your back flat against the pad, grasp the handles, and begin with your arms straight out to the sides, your elbows slightly bent, and the weight lifted off the stack to place tension on the muscles.
Contract your pecs to bring your hands together, keeping your shoulders back. When your hands touch, squeeze your pecs hard for a count, then slowly return to the start position.
“Again, minimize the shoulder action during the exercise. You don’t need a huge stretch; most important is to achieve a maximum contraction at the peak of the movement.”
Attach D-handles to cables at the highest pulley setting in a cable crossover station. Grab a handle in each hand, center yourself in the middle, and step forward a foot or two so that the weights lift off the stack. Begin with your arms outstretched to the sides, a slight bend in your elbows, and your torso leaning slightly forward.
Contract your pecs to pull your hands together down in front of your midsection, keeping only a slight bend in your elbows. When your hands reach each other, squeeze your pecs hard for a count, then slowly reverse the motion to return to the start position.
“If the objective is to recruit the lower pectoral fibers, you can keep your torso more upright. I like to place the arms slightly in front of the body to recruit a larger portion of the chest.”
Find a parallel bar dip apparatus with relatively wide grips (at least shoulder width). Begin holding on to the ends of the bars with your body suspended and your arms extended. Lean slightly forward at the torso to place more tension on the pecs (remaining vertical will target the triceps more).
Bend your arms to slowly lower yourself down while still emphasizing the forward lean of the upper body. When your elbows reach at least 90 degrees and you feel a stretch in the shoulders and pecs, press yourself back up to the start position in an explosive motion.
“The main thing here is to prevent the shoulders from raising up during the eccentric [negative] phase and from lowering on the concentric [positive] portion of the rep.”
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CORREA'S CHEST RULES
1) STAY FOCUSED
“When I’m working chest, I try to maximize the stress on the pec muscles by reducing the involvement of the shoulders and triceps. How do I do that? Well, by keeping the shoulders stabilized during the movement and reaching maximum contraction of the chest even before the arms reach full extension. This increases the efficiency of the exercise. I focus on all parts of the chest evenly, because I believe that the chest needs to be developed completely.”
2) MANAGE YOUR INTENSITY
“I do use intensity-boosting techniques, particularly dropsets. But it’s important to remember that intensity does not measure the efficiency of a workout. When you train, you want to stimulate the muscle, not kill it. So the intensity must be tailored to each situation. A good yardstick to measure that the correct level of intensity is being used is the muscular pump.”
3) CHECK YOUR EGO
“If your goal is aesthetics, you should focus on that and leave the ego aside. Work the target muscle with strict technique. Don’t worry about heavy weights.”
CORREA'S TRAINING SPLIT
DAY 1: Legs
DAY 2: Chest, shoulders
DAY 3: Back, triceps
DAY 4: Legs
DAY 5: Chest, shoulders
DAY 6: Biceps, triceps
DAY 7: Rest
CORREA'S CHEST ROUTINE
Hammer Strength Incline Press: 3 sets, 10–12 reps
Machine Flye: 4 sets, 12–15 reps
Cable Crossover: 4 sets, 12–15 reps
Dip: 3 sets, 10–12 reps