Training

Jay Cutler's Chest Workout for Massive Pecs

Embrace the training tips and 6 favorite chest exercises of 4X Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler.

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Jay Cutler's Chest Workout for Massive Pecs
Kevin Horton / M+F Magazine

Bench Press

Many pros shy away from good old-fashioned bench presses—but not Cutler. He sees them as integral for building a set of seriously jacked pecs.

“The bench press is something that a lot of pros get scared of, but it’s very beneficial for chest growth. I don’t do as much work with Hammer Strength equipment anymore. I’m more of a free-weight guy. Free weights can’t be beat for mass.”

“When I'm benching, I don’t touch the chest because that’s when most people tear their pecs. When you push back up out of the low position, the pecs are totally stretched out, and that’s when you’re most susceptible to injuries. I don’t lock out because that’s mostly triceps and shoulders taking over; I want to keep the focus on the pecs. That midrange is what really builds mass,” Cutler says.

“I never got caught in heavy benching,” he says. “I could put five plates on and get a couple reps, but what’s the point? It’s not the best way to build muscle, but it is the best way to injure yourself. The ideal muscle-building range is eight to 10 reps. Somebody asks me every day how to get a bench up, and I’m an honest guy with an honest answer. “I say, ‘I don’t train for strength, so it doesn’t matter to me if I bench three plates or five.’ I might come in next week and do only three plates. I’m not here to put on a show. It’s all about building muscle. I just go with how my body reacts and that’s it. It’s instinctive training, which I think every good bodybuilder picks up on with time and experimenting.”

Incline Dumbbell Presses

“I don’t necessarily think inclines hit only the uppers and bench presses hit only the lowers,” Cutler says. “I’m into overall stimulation, but the angle and focus are a little different [on an incline bench]. With dumbbells, I’m able to get a little deeper stretch at the bottom and also the pecs are working somewhat unilaterally. I think you get a little more stimulation using dumbbells. The nice thing about doing these is that you can adjust the angle of the bench to fit your body. Different people get different stimulation whether the angle is higher or lower.”

Cable Crossovers

“I tend to do these in the middle of my routine rather than at the end as a so-called ‘finishing movement.’ It’s just a different variation. I don’t really focus on using a ton of weight. I’m not trying to carve striations, but I think it provides a great contraction."

“I walk quite a way forward from the unit to try to get a deeper stretch. The farther you are in front of the stacks, the deeper the contraction. I also don’t like to watch myself when I do these. I face away from the mirror. I always like to focus on the feeling rather than what I can see. I think people lose the hard contraction when they watch themselves in the mirror.”

Dumbbell Pullovers

Most bodybuilders who do pullovers do them for upper back and serratus. Cutler does them for his pecs.

"This is a good exercise for upper chest. The secret is to not go too heavy so you can control your chest. You can position yourself on the bench so that you feel it more in your back, but I find the position where I feel it most in my chest. I think it stretches out the tissue and brings in more blood. I contract at the top of each rep for a slow pause and then go back for a deep stretch.”

Incline Dumbbell Flyes

“I use these to finish off. I think it’s easier to focus on the upper pecs with a flye than with a pressing movement. I don’t touch the dumbbells together, because I lose tension. I want to maintain constant tension and get a good stretch at the bottom.”

Jay Cutler's Chest Routine

  • Bench Presses | Warm-Ups: 3 | SETS: 3 | REPS: 8-10
  • Incline Dumbbell Presses: | Warm-Ups: 1  | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Cable Crossovers | Warm-Ups: 1 | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Dumbbell Pullovers | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes | SETS: 3* | REPS: 6-10

NOTE: Cutler typically makes changes from workout to workout.

* Followed immediately by a drop set of six reps

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