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Belgium’s Clarence DeVis sets his sights on moving up the IFBB Pro ranks

"People always compare me to Kai Greene, and I really appreciate that,” Clarence DeVis says in his heavily accented English. Like Greene, DeVis can look pretty intimidating when he’s not smiling, but just like Greene, when DeVis grins, his smile has a way of lighting up his face and exuding warmth and amiability. “Maybe it’s because Kai has dreads and I had dreads. I’d like to think it’s because they see something in my physique that reminds them of his. Kai is the next Mr. Olympia and a great person—he’s like my big brother.”

tk Unilateral Exercise for Each Body Part
Courtesy of Marvel

The 33-year-old started lifting weights with a very specific bodybuilder in mind—but it wasn’t Greene, who was just coming into his fame when DeVis began training for the stage. “My inspiration to get into bodybuilding was and still is Ronnie Coleman,” confesses this 2007 Belgium Nationals champion who speaks Dutch, French, and “a little” English. Pictures of King Coleman led DeVis to this iron sport and have kept him here.

Much like Coleman, DeVis' muscle isn't just for show; in Europe he's know for his strength and hardcore training.  He’s benched close to 600 pounds in the past and used that power to forge a physique worthy of the IFBB pro ranks.  But just being a pro isn't enough for DeVis – he wants to win and his huge, splitting chest will be a big part of that dream coming true.  He built these impressive pecs with old school training and a few key tips he shared with FLEX…

Click to the next page for a move-by-move break down of DeVis' chest training.


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haoliang / Getty

Where some guys prefer a narrower grip (which incorporates more triceps and allows them to lift greater weight), DeVis spaces his hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar. When he lowers the barbell, his forearms are perpendicular to the floor (rather than the 70 degrees attained by a closer grip). DeVis’ reps are controlled and full; he presses up to just short of lockout to keep continuous tension on his pecs and not tax his joints.

As noted, DeVis is a strong bench presser: You can find videos of him online nailing triples with 455. Still, even with the occasional heavier weights, his reps are calculated and full. If anything, his repetitions slow up as he goes heavier, as he focuses on not just feeling the targeted muscles, but also controlling the weight bearing down on him.

For variety, DeVis will occasionally incorporate dumbbells in lieu of 
a barbell or some variation of a seated bench or Smith machine bench press. Wherever benches fall in his chest routine—first exercise or third— he’ll strive for four sets of 12 reps (unless he’s challenging himself with a heavier weight).


If DeVis is doing inclines with dumbbells, the first thing you notice is 
that he sets the bench higher than most guys in the gym. Again, this is because DeVis—as strong as he is—isn’t looking to move max weights. He’s looking to feel the movement in his upper pecs. Dumbbell, barbell, Smith machine, or otherwise, DeVis will pump out four sets of inclines for 12 full reps, stretching the pec at the bottom, contracting it at the top.

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Henn Photography / Getty


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Maskot / Getty

Depending on the machine DeVis is using, you’ll notice he doesn’t grip the arm pads; he prefers bracing his upper arms against the pad cushions and squeezing out each of his reps with his arms almost parallel to the foor. On a pec-deck machine, DeVis’ reps are faster than his presses or the tempo of his dumbbell flyes. But again, he’s in control; he’s pumping the muscle, going for the agonizing burn that signals growth stimulation.

When DeVis opts for dumbbell flyes instead of the pec deck, his form is equally good. He doesn’t “bench” his dumbbell flyes the way a lot of guys do. His elbows break parallel and you can see the pectoral muscle fibers that tie into his delts working. Whatever the chest exercise, DeVis never tempts fate (in the form of a torn pec) by letting the weight plummet to his chest. He’ll complete one set fewer on flyes than either of his presses; 3 sets of 12 are the norm here.

Hugh Jackman
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox