Workout Routines

The Bigger-Chest Training Program to Shock Your Pecs and Boost Your Bench Press

Keep your muscles guessing for a big and powerful chest, and an even bigger bench press.

by
Pump Up Your Pecs
James Michelfelder
James Michelfelder
Duration 3 weeks
Exercises 18
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. Then you’ll perform a “volume day,” doing multiple sets with lighter loads to build work capacity. Finally, you’ll have a “power day,” when 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 (Day 1, 2, and 3) 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 on a weekly basis, as indicated beside each exercise.

Day 1

Exercise 1

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
5 sets
2 reps
-- rest
Use about 80% of your one-rep max weight and do 4 sets of 2 reps. On the fifth set, do as many reps as possible. Increase the weight by 5 to 10 pounds each week.

Exercise 2

Banded Press How to
Banded Press  thumbnail
4 sets
3, 2, 2, 2 reps
-- rest
Work up to the heaviest weight you can use for 3 reps, then perform 3 more sets of 2 reps with that same load. Add 5 pounds to the bar every week.

Exercise 3

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

Exercise 4

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

Exercise 5

Standing Dumbbell Curl How to
Dumbbell Curl  thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 6

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

Day 2

Exercise 1

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest
Use about 60% of your max weight and perform 4 sets of 8 in Week 1. In Week 2, do 4 sets of 10; in Week 3 ,do 4 sets of 12. Use the same load each week. In Week 4, start the cycle again with a heavier weight, about 5 to 10 pounds more.

Exercise 2

Inverted Row You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Inverted Row thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Push Up How to
Pushup thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
4 sets
15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

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

Exercise 6

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

Exercise 7

Barbell Curl How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
-- sets
50, 75, or 100 total* reps
-- rest
*If your current bench-press max is less than 200 pounds, perform 50 total reps, taking as many sets as necessary to hit that number. If you can bench 200 to 300 pounds, perform 75 total reps. If you can bench 300 pounds or more, perform 100 total reps.

Exercise 8

Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: Dumbbells How to
 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension thumbnail
-- sets
50, 75, or 100 total* reps
-- rest
Perform 50, 75, or 100 total reps according to your bench max, as you did for the curl, above.

Day 3

Exercise 1

Clap Pushup How to
Clap Pushup  thumbnail
5 sets
2 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
6 sets
3 reps
-- rest
Perform 6 sets of 3 reps in Week 1, using 70% of your max weight. In Week 2, do 8 sets of 3, and in Week 3, 10 sets of 3. Begin the cycle again in Week 4 with 2½ to 5% more weight.

Exercise 3

Muscle Snatch How to
Muscle Snatch  thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Row You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Row thumbnail
5 sets
10 each arm reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Dumbbell Push Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Push Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
-- rest
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