Take your chest workout and results to the next level!
There’s no denying that heavy bench press is the king in building a massive well-rounded chest, but by adding some additional angles, positions, and techniques we can be more effective and trigger more growth.
Following a solid chest workout tailored towards hypertrophy is a good start.
Pushing yourself in the gym, getting out that extra rep, and breaking down the muscle will undoubtedly get you results!
Our goal is to optimize those results by taking it to the next level! It’s not just about training harder, but also smarter.
Follow these steps to take your chest workout and results to the next level.
1) START HEAVY! ADD A DROP SET
Starting with a heavy flat press is the way to go. When you bench, both the elbow and shoulder joints work together, which is one reason bench presses are better muscle builders than single-joint fly movements. You can use substantially more weight.
But don’t forget to warm up! Some rotator cuff exercises are a good idea followed by a few light sets of flat press.
Some people prefer barbells over dumbbells or vice versa. If you always start with one, then try switching to the other for a change. You may achieve a slightly better contraction with dumbbells, but be able to lift more weight with a barbell exercise.
Either way, compound lifts are ideal for muscle hypertrophy and muscle activation. These types of lifts allow us to move the most weight over the longest range of motion, targeting the largest area of the muscle.
Generally, the ideal rep range for muscle building is 8-12 reps. For your first working set (after a couple warm up exercises) go with a heavier weight, aim for 6 reps, and shock the body with increased stress. Perform 3 heavy working sets of 6-8 reps.
Now for the drop set; substantially drop the weight on the 4th set and burn out, focusing on contracting and really squeezing the pecs. You might even want to give it a 5-6 second hold/squeeze at the top for a last couple reps and lower the weight down as slowly as you can. Also note, it’s ideal to have a spotter during this type of training!
2) ADD SOME INCLINE
Time to target that lagging upper chest and incline press is the best way to do that. Following our same protocol as last exercise, but now heavy working sets 6-8 reps followed by a 5th drop set.
One thing to watch out for, is the degree of the incline. We don’t want too much of an incline which focuses more stress on the delts, but just a slight incline to emphasize the upper chest while not overloading the delts.
Take this exercise to the next level and do 2 sets at around a 30 degree incline, 2 more at around a 15 degree incline and then your final drop set, again, really focusing on contracting and squeezing the muscle. Activating all the muscle fibers you can and giving it all you got!
3) ON TO DECLINE
Up next is the decline press, another awesome exercise to further develop your chest! If you did the first two with dumbbells, perhaps switch this one to barbells, a Smith Machine, or even a Hammer Strength machine. Sometimes machines are beneficial especially after a few exercises when you’re getting fatigued. With machines you can just focus on the push. And these are really good for the burn out set if you don’t have a reliable spotter.
When using a machine you can vary the angle a little bit by adjusting the seat and handle position. Generally, your strongest position would be with the handles around the lower pec region. Start with 2 sets like this, then adjust the seat so you’re pressing from a higher position around your middle/upper chest.
4) TIME TO ISOLATE
One of the best isolation exercises for the chest are chest flys. We have a few different options to choose from here as they can be performed on the machine pec-deck, using cables, or the classic dumbbell flys. I wouldn’t say one is superior to another and it’s mostly personal preference.
I prefer dumbbell and cable flys, because they don’t restrict you to a certain ROM. You can adjust your arms/shoulders to the most comfortable position throughout the entire movement of the exercise. Try 4 sets of 8-12 reps. For this one we want to really focus on constantly squeezing and contracting the pecs while isolating the chest.
If you’re using cables, you can vary the angle on this exercise. Either standing or lying on a bench, perform a set squeezing at the center of your chest. Follow this with a set at a slightly lower angle and one at a slightly higher angle. Remember to keep your arms extended (elbows just slightly bent) and make your chest work! Don’t let your fatigued chest compromise your form and turn this into a press.
5) FINISHING TOUCHES
Most lifters would be satisfied with calling it a successful chest day. But our goal is to take this to the next level, demand muscle growth, really crush our already fatigued muscles, and make them perform. We want the muscle to recover to be bigger, stronger, and more conditioned.
Time for that exercise that over the years we have developed a love/hate relationship with, pushups. A great exercise for your chest development and an even better exercise to perform until failure. When we’ve already completed all the heavy lifting, these will feel easy!
For this final exercise perform 3 sets until failure. (Rest 60 seconds between each set). To add some variety, vary the angle by adjusting your hand position for each set.
|Flat Dumbbell Press||4*||6-8|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||5*||6-8|
|Hammer Strength Decline Press||4||8-12|
|Cable crossover or Machine Flys||4||8-12|
*On the final set perfrom a drop set totaling 20 reps.