Workout Routines

The workout to build out your chest

If you really want to build your bench press, keep your muscles guessing.

by
Man performing barbell bench press
Westend61 / Getty
Westend61 / Getty
Duration 45-60
Exercises 5-9
Equipment Yes

Though commonly referred to as “muscle confusion” or simply “mixing it up,” the concept of changing your workouts regularly to ramp up muscle growth actually has a scientific name: “daily undulating periodization,” or DUP. Studies show that DUP—changing the sets, reps, and loads you use each workout—prevents your body from ever adapting to your training, and forces consistent muscle growth.

That’s the approach we took this month to unstick your bench press and bulk-up your pecs. It’ll set you up for a new personal best in the lift in just three weeks. More muscle, less confusion.

How it works

To use DUP to increase strength, we're setting up three different workouts per week. You’ll do a “heavy day,” on which you’ll use heavy weights to stimulate your central nervous system and recruit maximum muscle mass. Then you’ll do a “volume day,” performing multiple sets with lighter loads to build work capacity. Finally, you’ll have a “power day,” during which you focus on pushing weights as quickly as possible to help you overcome any sticking points in your bench-press range-of-motion.

While more traditional programs like linear periodization, which prescribes starting with lighter weights and gradually going heavier over time, remain more popular, research has been showing DUP to be more beneficial. In fact, a University of Arizona study found it to be twice as effective as the linear approach for building subjects’ bench-press strength.

Directions

Perform each workout (Days I, II, or III) once a week. (You can do your lower-body training on the days in-between.) Complete all sets for one exercise before moving on. Note that the sets and reps for some exercises change weekly.

The workout to build out your chest Day 1: Chest, arms, shoulders, back

Exercise 1.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
5 sets
2, 2, 2, 2, AMRAP reps
As needed. rest

Exercise 2.

Banded Single-Arm Chest Press You'll need: Resistance Band How to
How To Do a Banded Single-Arm Chest Press thumbnail
4 sets
3, 2, 2, 2 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 3.

Bentover Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Bent Over Row  thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 4.

Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Exercise: How to do an Eccentric Pullup thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 5.

Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Curl thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 6.

Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells How to
 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
As needed rest

The workout to build out your chest Day 2: Chest, arms, shoulders, back

Exercise 1.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Inverted Row You'll need: Power Rack How to
Inverted row thumbnail
3 sets
AMRAP reps
As needed rest

Exercise 3.

Pushup How to
Pushup  thumbnail
3 sets
AMRAP reps
As needed rest

Exercise 4.

Dummbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
4 sets
15 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 5.

Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells How to
 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension thumbnail
4 sets
15 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 6.

Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Lateral Raise thumbnail
4 sets
15-20 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 7.

Bentover Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Bentover Lateral Raise  thumbnail
4 sets
15-20 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 8.

Barbell Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
3 sets
50, 75, or 100 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 9.

Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells How to
 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
50, 75 or 100 reps
-- rest

The workout to build out your chest Day 3: Chest, arms, shoulders

Exercise 1.

Pushup How to
Pushup  thumbnail
5 sets
2 reps
As needed rest
Add clap to each pushup

Exercise 2.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
6 sets
3 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 3.

One-arm dumbbell snatch You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Cross-body clean and press thumbnail
5 sets
5 each side reps
As needed rest

Exercise 4.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row You'll need: Dumbbells How to
One-Arm Dumbbell Row thumbnail
5 sets
10 each side reps
As needed rest

Exercise 5.

Push Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Push Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
As needed rest
Use dumbbells
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