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QUESTION: Is heavy weight with low reps the best way to train chest? Or lighter weights with moderate to high reps?
The heavy weight and weekly progression in the amount of weight used in the 5×5 portion of the training will add pounds to your bench, while the relatively high volume, rest-pause technique on dips, and stretching of the pecs on flyes will all work synergistically to add slabs of muscle to your chest.
Exercise Sets Reps
The key to gaining size and strength for any muscle group (not just chest) is to lift heavier weights as you go. But there’s no need to increase poundage substantially overnight; a gradual progression is your best bet to avoid overtraining and plateaus. In this routine, start your first working set of bench and incline presses with five pounds more than you did the previous week. This will keep your strength levels and muscles growing steadily.
See workout descriptions on next page.
Tuck your elbows in toward your sides as you lower the bar. This will decrease shoulder rotation and take stress off the shoulder joints, decreasing the chance of a pec tear and also allowing you to lift more weight by improving your leverage.
Use an adjustable bench with a 15-30-degree incline (unless a 45-degree bench is all you have access to) – this will hit the upper chest best. Steeper angles focus too much on the anterior delts.
Put your head down and lean forward to emphasize the chest. Keeping your head up and staying upright will focus more on your triceps. Be sure to get a good stretch at the bottom and lockout out fully at the top.
Strive for a deep stretch at the bottom of the movement to make room for new growth by keeping your elbows out and descending slowly. This is the one exercise in this routine where it isn’t necessary (or desirable) to go heavy.