If you’re looking to pump up your chest or just simply improve on your physique, you’ve come to the right place. The key to steady gains in the gym is consistently switching things up and never letting your body adjust to a repetitive workout. Each of these methods contain their own workout, and operate on different principles that can help you achieve the chest of your dreams.
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Plan #1 Unique Lifts
The moves below are unique twists on familiar lifts like presses and flyes. The different stimulus will give your muscles something new to adapt to—and help you break out of your boring chest rut.
Pullover and Press: Sets – 3, Reps 8-10
Smith Machine Stop Press: Sets – 3, Reps 6-8
One-arm Pec Deck Flye: Sets – 3, Reps 10-12
Low-cable Crossover: Sets – 3, Reps 10-12
Workout Tip: Set the safety stops on the Smith machine so the bar stops about 6 inches above your chest when doing bench presses. When you lower the bar during any press from any angle, let the weight come to a stop when it reaches the supports and keep it there for 1 second before pressing it back up. This way, you’ve removed momentum from the equation and forced your pecs to work harder when pushing the weight up.
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Plan #2 High/Low
The high/low principle alternates a series of low-rep sets with a series of high-rep sets. The combination works both the fast-and slow-twitch muscle fibers to maximize size and strength and increase blood flow to the area.
Dumbbell Press: Sets – 4, Reps – 10, 8, 6, 4
Incline Flye: Sets – 3, Reps – 15-20
Bench Press: Sets – 3, Reps – 8,6,4
Cable Crossover: Sets – 2, Reps 20-25
Workout Tip: Instead of performing cable crossovers with the handles up high, try doing them from the lowest position. While keeping your arms nearly straight, lift the handles up until they meet at chin level. This places more emphasis on the middle portion of the chest.
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Plan #3 Descending Sets
Think of descending sets as extended dropsets. Perform a set of six to 10 reps. Once you reach failure, strip a plate (or lower the weight stack) and do another set of six to 10. Repeat for four total sets. Those four dropsets equal one set.
Bench Press: Sets – 2, Reps – 24-40
Pec Deck Flye: Sets – 2, Reps – 24-40
Machine Incline Press: Sets – 2, Reps – 24-40
Workout Tip: Pressing with a machine allows you to more easily drop the weight after each set. It also lets you keep your form more rigid as you’re locked into place.
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Plan #4 Incline/Decline
Kicking the flat bench to the curb for a workout will allow you to fully compartmentalize your chest into upper and lower sections and to focus more intently on each area. Additionally, if flat work takes its toll on your shoulders or elbows, you might find that altering the angles can be less straining.
Incline Press: Sets – 3, Reps – 8-10
Incline Flye: Sets – 3, Reps – 10-12
Decline Press: Sets – 3, Reps – 8-10
Decline Flye: Sets – 3, Reps – 10-12
Inline Press: One variation of the incline press we like: Start with your palms facing you and twist your hands around during the press so that your palms are facing forward at the apex of the movement.
Smith Machine Decline Press: Another decline option is to use a Smith machine. Since the bar is on a set track, it’s easier to lift, allowing you to load it up with more weight.
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Plan #5 Full-court Press
Another approach to pumping up your pecs is to devote an entire session to presses, hitting them from all angles. Another benefit besides getting a complete workout: You’ll be done in no time.
Bench Press: Sets – 4, Reps – 6-12
Incline Press: Sets – 4, Reps – 8-12
Decline Press: Sets – 4, Reps – 10-12
Workout Tip: Performing dumbbell presses on a decline bench increases your range of motion, which allows you to place your chest muscle under more tension for longer. This is a huge factor for growth.
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Plan #6 Flye Zone
The bench press may be a chest day staple, but you should consider flyes when it comes to sculpting out Herculean pecs. The reason is that they better isolate the muscle group. Once a month, give this flye-only workout a go to help maximize your pecs without extra toll being taken on the delts and triceps.
Incline Flye: Sets – 4, Reps – 6-12
Flat Flye: Sets: – 4, Reps – 6-12
Pec Deck Flye: Sets – 4, Reps – 6-12
Workout Tips: Move over, bench press, the pec deck flye actually better isolates your chest, since it takes the deltoids and triceps out of the equation. Do this move slowly, stretching the muscle at the bottom of the rep.
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Plan #7 Press and Pullover
The combination of a power movement (bench presses) with a stretching movement (pullovers) creates a tremendous upper-body pump. It’s also a convenient superset, because after you finish the presses, you can rotate 90 degrees on the bench to begin doing pullovers.
Workout Tip: The phrase “everything old is new again” comes to mind with this one. Start by performing a barbell pullover, then bench-press the weight. That’s 1 rep. This works the pecs along with the lats and serratus.
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Plan #8 Re-exhaust
The idea behind pre-exhausting is to perform an isolation exercise before you set out to do a compound exercise. The thought is that the muscle you’re trying to target has been trained to exhaustion, which in turn triggers optimum growth. Your front delts and triceps usually do a lot of work when chest presses are performed, but if you do flyes before presses, your pecs will give out before your delts or triceps. “Re-exhausting” is most effective when you perform the flyes in the superset before presses.
Incline Press: Set up as you did for the incline flyes, but instead of bringing your arms out to stretch the pec muscle, perform a standard press. Keep your elbows in around 45 degrees, and drive the weight up until your arms are fully extended.
Incline Flye: Lie back on a bench set to 45 degrees, with a dumbbell in each hand. Brace your core and lower the weight until you feel a stretch in your chest. Then raise the weights back up in a hugging-a-tree motion.