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At 5’11” and an off-season 310 pounds, “King Khan” says his favorite body part to train is chest. From the sheer size of him—60- inch chest, 24-inch arms—you might expect Khan to be bouncing 600 or more pounds off his chest. But this is a man who has been hurt and knows better. When Khan tore both tendons above his kneecaps hack squatting in mid-2010, the injury postponed this 2009 British Championships super heavyweight and overall winner’s pro debut all the way through 2013 (where he placed seventh at the Dallas Europa Super Show). When he trains anything these days, he trains hard, but he trains smart.
Consider what he has to say about bench pressing: “A lot of guys bench press four plates but have weak chests. Why’s that? They’re using their triceps and their front delts. They don’t have that mind-muscle connection to their chests. When you bench press, you want your elbows up high toward your ears, so your arms are straight. Lots of people bring their arms down into their lats, which brings their triceps into it and lets them move more weight. Sure, they might be stronger, but what about their chest development?”
FLAT BENCH PRESS
Khan warms up his chest with light sets of dumbbell flyes, shoulder presses, and triceps pushdowns. He’ll cycle through each exercise four times, doing 10 reps per exercise. “I’m just trying to warm up all the muscles used when I train my chest,” explains Zack.
His first set of bench presses, with one plate on either side of the bar for 20 reps, continues the warmup. Khan will slap a second plate on both sides and pump out an easy 15 reps. From there he jumps up to his work weight: four plates. Khan will get as many reps as he can to failure, anywhere between 10 and 12 reps depending on how he feels that day. As he stated above, his elbows are fared out closer to his ears than his lats, making this as close to a pure pec movement as one can get. For his final set, Khan will drop the weight down and go to failure, at least 12 reps.
INCLINE HAMMER PRESS
“I’m warmed up from the benching,” says Zack, “so I can jump right into my heavy set of incline presses.” Khan’s heavy set on this movement involves presses for at least 12 reps until he achieves momentary muscular failure. “If I don’t get at least 8 reps, I don’t count that as a set.”
If he’s training by himself, Khan rests a minute to a minute and- a-half between sets. If he’s training with a partner, he rests long enough for his partner to do his set and then it’s Khan’s turn again. If you’ve ever seen him train in person or in videos, you know King Khan is quite vocal as he lifts: He grunts and curses, psyching himself up. He sounds angry. Fortunately the 300-pounder’s wrath is aimed at the iron.
Khan has been known to substitute inclines on a Smith machine or use dumbbells.
“I mix it up from week to week,” explains King Khan. “If I did fat dumbbell flyes last week, Monday, this Monday I’ll do cable flyes. Either exercise, you don’t need to go too heavy. You want to concentrate on the contraction and squeeze at the top of the rep. It’s like hugging a tree. At the top of the rep, hug the tree, extend your elbows straight, push your chest together and squeeze it.” Whichever exercise he’s doing, Khan will complete four sets of 15 reps. “Remember,” Khan reminds, “These are about the feel, not the amount of weight you’re moving.”
The King’s last chest exercise for the day is dips, which he’ll do either on a dip machine or a freestanding dip station. “I’ll do two sets for 20–40 reps per set, depending on how strong I’m feeling. The point is, I’ll take each set to failure. And that’s my chest workout, yeah.”