Pec-Ignition: Pump Up Your Pecs

Individuals who don’t train fail to understand how post-workout soreness can be a good measure of a terrific workout. Can’t make it up the stairs? Congrats on another good leg workout! Feel a dull pain in your shoulders when picking up the grocery bags? Yup, that was Tuesday’s delt routine.

But finding the right combination of exercises, sets, reps and techniques to bring you to the promised land of (good) pain can sometimes be elusive. This is especially true for those with some serious lifting experience under their belts. The more you train, after all, the harder it is to damage your muscle fibers. Not today. This month’s chest workout is a monster loaded with high-intensity plateau-busters that’ll obliterate your pecs, give you a massive pump and – you guessed it – leave your chest sore for days. Because of the high volume and intensity, this is definitely one workout you’ll want to repeat, but make sure you do so infrequently since it could contribute to serious overtraining.

We’ll start by blasting your chest with presses from the three major angles, starting with two incline moves – a couple of sets of incline bench presses first, then three grueling sets with dumbbells. Mix it up by moving to declines, where you’ll use a very wide grip to focus on the outer pecs. On the machine press, where it’s easy to drop the weight by simply changing the pin, you’ll do drop sets to further exhaust the muscle. Follow that with a superset, combining pec-deck flyes with a partial move at the end and push-ups, which aren’t normally difficult when your pecs aren’t already fried. Finish off with dips, focusing on the eccentric contraction by taking a full 10 seconds to lower yourself.

Did I mention the last move before you call it quits? Yeah, go grab some ice.

Incline Dumbbell Press


Exercise Sets Reps (1)
Incline Bench Press (2) 12, 12
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 10, 8, 6
Decline Bench Press (3) 4 10, 8, 8, 6
Machine Chest Press (4)    
  3 all to failure
Negative Dip (7) 3 10, 10, 10

–Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.

(1) On working sets, choose a weight that allows you to reach muscle failure by the target rep listed.
(2) Does not include warm-up sets.
(3) Sets 1 and 3 are done with a normal-width grip; sets 2 and 4 are done with a very wide grip.
(4) After eight reps, reduce the weight by 20%-30% and continue until failure.
(5) After 10 reps, do up to eight partials, allowing the machine to pull your hands only about 10 inches apart and squeezing your pecs together over the top of the range of motion.
(6) After your partials, immediately drop to the floor and do a set of push-ups; do as many as you can with good form. Rest only after you complete the superset.
(7) Lean forward and raise your heels to put the focus on your chest. Really work the negative by taking a full 10 seconds to lower yourself – fight it coming down. Step up on the apparatus to “walk” yourself back up to the top and full-arm extension, not by pressing yourself back up.