Before beginning this series of workouts, read 8 weeks to bigger pecs, the method to the madness! You can access it here.That article will no doubt help you get the most out of your endeavors to building the chest of your body building dreams! Without further a due, here are the workouts!
Week One - A lesson in pain!
Let's get this week off on the right foot, and introduce you to the experience that is 8 weeks to bigger pecs part deux!
Exercise one: Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
You'll be doing 4 total sets. With the rep scheme (a rep scheme just means a plan that you will use to dictate the general range of reps you want to hit with each set)
To better illustrate what a rep scheme (plan) is I'll lay the rep scheme out for this first exercise.
Set one: 10 reps
Set two: 8 reps
Set three: 6 reps
Set four: 6 reps
Here are the special instructions for this exercise. You will follow this protocol for the first and last set of this exercise.
We will be utilizing the partial reps principal and the static hold principle for the 1st and 4th set.
So, after you reach failure on your last rep, keep your arms at the top of the range of motion on your last rep. From there, lower the dumbbells a few inches and press back up. Continue in this manner until you can no longer move your arms even 1/16th of an inch! I mean keep doing these partial reps until your arms won't budge! This is going to burn on your chest like crazy, but you have to keep it going until your arms will absolutely not move at all. This should feel similar to the pain of doing partial reps on your calves!
Now hold the last partial rep in the fully contracted position at the top of the range of motion for 10-30 seconds.
You will feel a monstrous burn in your middle chest when you do this! Remember the longer you can hold the static hold the more muscle growth it will induce! Aim for at least a 10 second hold. If you can't get that high that's OK, but make sure you drop the weights because of true failure and not just the pain. There is a HUGE difference between these two. This static hold is going to feel like someone lit a match and set it on your chest, especially after the partial reps. Your job is to hold it until your arms give out and not because of the pain!
Exercise 2: Lying Cable Low incline Flys
To do this exercise, simply set a flat bench between two low cable pulley stations. Make sure the bench is evenly in the middle of the two low cables. Now adjust the bench so that it is at a low incline. Go for 15-30 degree incline. The choice is up to you. I personally like a 25 degree angle, but it can vary by individual.
Now, simple grab each cable, lie down on the bench, and perform the same movement as you would a dumbbell fly. Keeping your elbows fixed and 'hugging' the weights together for a peak contraction. This is going to give you the best pump in your chest! Hold the peak of each rep for a few seconds, and really fight the negative hard on these. Remember on these to really contract against the stretch! It will make all the difference!
Go with a rep scheme of 12, 10, 8
As soon as you finish a set, do some intense fascia stretching with the method of your choice. I personally like stretching my chest between a squat rack; however my advice is to go with your preference for stretching. Really you should select the one that is most uncomfortable! I find the more pain the stretch causes the more gains you will get from the fascia stretching! And for those who are wondering if this method of stretching works: do three sets like this with a 30 second stretch immediately afterwards and you'll be believers!
Follow the 30 seconds of stretching with intense flexing and squeezing of the pecs. You may find it hard to do 3 sets like this at first, but lower the weight if you have to. The main focus of this exercise is to get a strong burn in your chest and contract against the stretch.
Exercise 3 - Decline Barbell Bench Press
Finish off with 3 sets of Decline Barbell Bench Presses, with a rep scheme of 6, 8, 10, 2.
Do the first two sets contracting against the stretch (you're going to get sick of hearing me saying that by the end of this, but I keep emphasizing it because I hear so many guys saying they can't feel their chest or they can't feel their lats. Not finding the stretch then contracting against it is the reason why!).
However on the last set, I want you to go super heavy, and take a power lifting mentality on it. Make sure to give yourself a 3 minute break before attempting this so you will be rested enough for it.
Do whatever it takes to get 2 reps. If you have a partner do forced reps. I recommend asking someone in the gym to spot you if you don't have a partner. But if you work out a home use rest-pause to get 2 reps. You can also use the cheat rep principle I discussed in the 'Shock yourself out of the comfort Zone article' to help cheat out a rep, just use safety with this method!
Exercise 4: Machine flat press
For our last chest exercise of week 1, we will use the machine flat press. I prefer Hammer Strength machines, but if you don't have access to that equipment use whatever flat bench press machine you have at your gym. Use the rep scheme of 8, 8, 6.
There are no shocks here, just controlled heavy presses. Make sure to flex your pecs hard at the end of every rep!
Now slug down a shake, go home, eat and sleep!
Week Two - Sore just took on a new meaning
As I explained in the 'Method to the Madness' article, dips can literally etch your pecs out of stone! In this workout we will use dips to force our chest into extreme soreness!
Exercise one: Non-Peak Flys
We're going to be using some non-peak flys for a little pre-exhaustion work. This will ensure our chest is coming total failure when we proceed to dips.
For all 3 of these sets, go just short of failure. Aim for the reps I give, but concentrate more on feeling your pecs. Go at a medium pace and squeeze your chest hard when you come to the end of the range of motion, and resist the negative at a slower pace.
Go with a rep scheme of 15, 12, 10. Remember you're not going to failure, just pre-exhausting the chest. You'll need the energy for the next exercise!
Exercise 2: Forced Dips
Make sure to review the article to ensure proper execution of this exercise. You need to go to total failure then aim for 3 forced reps after initial failure.
Go deep enough that you feel your chest being stretched then contract against that stretch. By your failure rep, your chest should really be tightened up, and struggling to bring you back up! I find this exercise is the most painful of all chest exercises, so I just want to warn you again, not to quit because of the pain, but because of failure of the muscle to contract on the positive portion of the lift.
Remember from 'Shock Yourself Out of the Comfort Zone Part I' that failure during the positive portion of the lift doesn't mean that all strength in a muscle is gone. You still have negative and static strength left after positive failure has occurred. The forced dips will use that principle to our advantage for the sole purpose of inducing hypertrophy! Make sure on the forced dips to go ultra slow on the negatives (at least a 5 second descent), and hold the peak contraction for a good 3 seconds before proceeding with another forced dip.
Go for 4 total sets of forced dips. I'm not going to give a specific rep range here. This will depend upon your fitness level.
I recommend not going above 12 and preferably aim for a rep range of around 6-10. If you can easily do 12, it's time to strap on extra weight. If you can only do a few or none at all, that's fine. However, you can still do the forced dips. If this is the case, go as slow as you possibly can on the negative, and go for at least 3 forced reps.
Exercise 3: Smith Machine Flat Bench Press
The smith machine is an excellent piece of equipment to follow up with after a heavy stabilizer movement. After those forced dips your stabilizers will bet completely thrashed! In fact your delts and tris will probably be so pumped you'll look twice as big as normal!
So we'll be finishing off with the smith machine flat bench press.
There are no special techniques here. Just go heavy, all the way down, and to failure. If you are alone don't be afraid to go heavy on these. Experiment with your power on this machine. The theme of exercise three is heavy, so I want you to go with a scheme of 6, 6, 4.
Power is the key here. On the last set go for 4 reps, power lifting style. If the weight is to heavy and you only get 2 reps, don't worry about it. The key here is to go for the heavy feel. Training super heavy like this will stimulate your nervous system. As you progress with training the nervous system, it will learn how to better adapt to heavy weights and all your lifts will go up.
Exercise 4: Incline Barbell Press
After the rest period finish this week off with incline barbell presses.
This exercise is perhaps the most effective for developing the upper pectoral region. This is an area that is often overlooked, but in desperate need of attention. A developed upper chest makes your pecs 100 times more 3D from every angle! Especially side chest poses.
This is definitely an exercise that you need to contract against the stretch. The angle this exercise puts your body at places direct emphasis on the upper region. Use that angle to your advantage, by finding the stretch it produces on your upper chest, then resisting against that stretch. Bring the barbell all the way down until it brushes against your upper chest, and then push it back up. Try to flex your pecs hard at the top of each rep, and concentrate especially on feeling the upper portion of your chest straining under the weight.
As soon as you finish a set, do some intense fascia stretching.
Incline Pressing + Fascia Stretching = Insane separation in the upper chest region.
This technique brought my upper chest up almost over night! When done properly I'm convinced no other method will bring out the upper chest any better!
It really helps bring out the upper pec/shoulder tie in-s, and carves out that line across the upper chest that is really hard to target.
Go for a rep range of 12, 10, 8. I also highly recommend a spotter on this exercise, as a few deep forced reps will really increase the pump and make the stretch more effective!
Week Three- Superset Ferocity
Supersets are perhaps the greatest shock technique of all time! The sheer viciousness they put the subjected muscles under is enough to be considered 'cruel and unusual punishment', by legal standards.
The secret to supersets is the taking of the muscle far beyond initial failure by rapidly changing the angle at which the muscle is being exposed too.
The angle of the body at the moment it is focused under resistance plays a huge role in the way you can mold it. As I stated earlier a muscle either stretches or contracts. However, by changing the angle of an exercise a muscle group will contract and stretch harder in different regions of the muscles, depending upon the angle.
Body building is literally Geometry in action!
And Supersets are literally like SuperGeometry.
This is the reason supersets are so awesome! When you are performing a superset you are literally taking a muscle to failure with one angle, then rapidly changing angles and taking it to failure again! This produces a huge shock on the muscle! It contracts and stretches it beyond the normalcy of regular resistance training. Not to mention a pump that is off the charts!
With all that in mind, let's tackle some mind-numbing chest supersets!
Exercise 1: Incline Dumbbell Press supersetted with Incline Barbell Press
All I can say is you're going to love this one! It's one of my favorites!
Go for a rep range of 6-9 on the dumbbells. And on the barbell aim for a weight that you fail at 10, 8, 6.
If you don't get those rep numbers perfectly on the barbell it's no big deal. Just aim to go to failure in a descending rep scheme. In other words if you get repetitions of 9, 7, 4 on the barbell portion of the superset don't think you messed it all up. The point is that you gradually put up heavier weights on the barbell as you progressed through the set and you went to total failure on both portions of the superset.
The main concern is that you don't come to failure at the same number of reps on the barbell on every set, but that you got increasingly heavier.
Again this is a superset I recommend grabbing a spotter to get a few deep forced out reps, especially on the barbell portion.
Exercise 2: Machine-fly movement supersetted with Machine Press
For this exercise the choice is up to you! Select your least favorite fly movement first! What do you mean 'least favorite'? You know those exercises you avoid because they are uncomfortable and painful! What I really mean by dislike is uncomfortable!
Some examples could be the cable crossovers lying on a decline bench or a type of machine fly like the pec deck. The choice is up to you. I personally dislike Cybex's fly machine! Not because it doesn't work well but because it hurts so freakin' bad!
Next pick your least favorite Machine Press. This could be the smith machine or a piece of equipment like the Incline Hammer Strength press, or any type of cable/machine press.
Ultimately your choice in the equipment for this superset is up to you.
The deal is I want you to pick the one that is the least uncomfortable to you, and therefore the one you probably never do! Or if by some rare means you like them all, pick the one you rarely ever do, and flourish on it for this week.
Remember the Golden Rule of shocking your body:
The mentality of being uncomfortable is the primary driving mechanism in shocking your body!
This superset of uncomfortable-ness will shock your socks off!
However for this shock to be effective means you have to take that uncomfortable-ness and thrive on it! Tell yourself you don't care how much it hurts only that you will push each set as hard as your body can go at all costs and by any means possible! That is the mindset of a body builder!
Go for a rep range of 10-12 on the fly movements and 6-8 on the machine press movement.
Exercise 3: Decline Barbell Press supersetted with Incline Barbell Press
We're going to finish this week off with an iron onslaught!
This super set is going to attack your chest from every angle!
Start with the decline press and aim for a rep scheme of 6, 8, 10. And a rep range of 6-9 on the incline barbell press! Again with the rep scheme on the decline press follow the same protocol as exercise one of this week in regards to getting the exact reps I prescribed. The only real difference with this one is we are doing an ascending pyramid rep scheme in exercise 4 instead of a descending pyramid rep scheme like in exercise 1.
Exercise 4: Pause-press flat dumbbell press supersetted with neutral grip non-peak flys
Pause-press flat dumbbell presses are one of my favorite chest exercises. The concept is simple. Do a standard flat dumbbell press. The key is at the bottom of the range of motion; you will go as deep as possible and pause for two seconds before going back up.
When you are in the bottom position you should be feeling a real intense stretch across your chest. You need to go really deep here.
I'm talking as far down as you can. Now hold that stretch for two seconds, and then fire back up contracting the chest hard. Also be forewarned you will have to use lighter dumbbells than you normally use for flat dumbbell presses. Pausing at the bottom like this will really strain your pecs hardcore.
One key point I want to make here. As you are in the stretched position of the exercise don't think about the ascent. If you do you'll take your mind off the stretch. Keep focused on the stretch. Once you feel the pull and hold it for a 2 count, then concentrate on the push. Keep that in mind because when you get into the bowels of the stretch your first instinct will be to push out of it. You really need to stay in the stretch and hold the weight there. After that you can focus on the positive portion.
Immediately after you complete your pause-press reps, grab two lighter dumbbells and perform 2 or 3 reps of neutral grip flys. Stretch your arms out far on these and go slow on the descent. The first rep is really going to be a killer. Don't come all the way to a peak on these either. The main concept of these is to stretch the pectorals from a different angle. The idea behind these exercises is that we are super setting an over-emphasized pressing movement then topping off the super stretch with a over-emphasized fly movement. This will stretch your chest from every angle. I'm not going to candy coat this at all. You're in for some serious pain with this superset. But the pump is incredible and so are the results it will produce!!
Go for a rep scheme of 10, 8, 6 on the pause-press dumbbell presses and only like 2 or 3 reps on the flys. Believe me 3 reps on the flys is all you'll need!
Week Four-T-Rex Pecs
Week four is all about power of the pecs! The following exercises are going to test your mental stamina to the core of your very being! Get ready to take a test in pain! If you want bigger pecs, don't settle for anything less than an A+ on this exam!
Exercise one: Dumbbell Pullovers
This exercise is better known as the sultan of stretching when we're referring to the chest. The only exercise that rivals the stretch it provides is dips.
This exercise places a pull on your chest that is unique to its range of motion. The pullover will build mass especially well on the tough to target upper chest, and as a genuine all purpose torso mass builder, it's hard to beat.
There are two important things to remember if you want the pullover to be effective in targeting your chest. The closer you keep your elbows the more stress your chest will take in the pull. The wider your elbows the more the back comes into play. So keep your elbows in.
Also keep your hips low and stationary throughout the set. Raising them up and down steals from the movement as momentum takes the brunt of the load. So, in summary of executing a pullover for chest emphasis: elbows in, hips low and stationary.
I have found the easiest way to transfer the weight from a stationary position to the beginning position of the exercise is to first place a 10 lb. plate on the edge of a flat bench. Now, rest the end of the bolt of the dumbbell in the center hold of the 10 lb. plate. This will keep it motionless and will prevent the dumbbell from ripping the bench padding.
Now, you can get into position for the exercise. Once you are in place and ready to go, simply lift the dumbbell and drag it onto your shoulder. If you can't do this, then that's a good sign the dumbbell is too heavy. Now, keeping your elbows in and hips low and stationary, let the weight slowly go back along its range of motion. You should feel a nice pull on your chest at this point.
Next, pull the weight back over until it is right above your eyes. As you are pulling try to think of the range of motion as trying to pull the weight over and up. Your arms should be just short of lockout at the top of the range of motion. At this top point you should be feeling a hard contraction on your pecs. It should feel like a searing pain. The kind of pain that is inducing muscle growth!
As you proceed back down, your hips will naturally try to rise up. You have to fight that urge and keep them planted! Keep going with that strict technique for the rest of the set!
I went into some detail on the execution of the pullover for good reason. It is definitely in the top three all-star chest exercises. In fact I'd do this over a flat bench press any day of the week!
You should make an extra effort to master it. It will take your chest to the next level when you start getting into real heavy poundages!
You'll be doing 4 total sets, with a rep scheme of 10, 8, 6, 4. I won't lie here; this 4 rep range is really going to hurt. Your chest will be really fired up by now, and the real heavy dumbbell pullovers will produce a super stretch. Keep this rule in mind.
Heavy dumbbell pullovers = Heavy Stretch on the pectorals.
This is why they work so darn well!
Remember I said that contracting against the stretch is the ultimate way to induce hypertrophy? (How could you forget right?). Well this exercise takes that principle to the max! When you start getting into the big boy dumbbells you'll be surprised how fast your pecs grow!
Exercise 2: Smith Machine Incline Press
This is an excellent way to top off the upper pecs. The pullovers will really target this area, so we'll use the incline smith machine presses to finish them off with a bang!
Go about the 3 sets in this fashion:
Set 1: Set the bench up at 45 degrees and aim for 6-9 reps.
Set 2: Set the bench up at 40 degrees (or lower 1 notch on the bench), and aim for 6-9 reps.
Set 3: Set the bench up at 35 degrees (or lower 1 notch on the bench), and aim for 6-9 reps.
By going through three different angles we will be sure to stretch the upper pecs from a variety of angles, and ensure that the upper chest region has been fully stimulated.
Exercise 3: Supinating dumbbell flys
This variety of dumbbell fly is in a word, awesome. They target the entire chest in one foul swoop, and really nail the inner pecs.
See the 'Method to the Madness' article to read how to properly execute this exercise.
Make sure at the top of the range of motion, your chest is supinated and you are flexing it hard at the top. The harder you flex you chest at the top of this exercise, the more shaping power you are giving it. Also, on the last rep of every set, hold the dumbbells in static contraction for 10-30 seconds.
Rep range: 15, 12, 8
Exercise 4: Decline Dumbbell press
The decline dumbbell press has to give one of the best chest pumps ever. It really makes the lower pecs flex supernaturally hard! These also provide a great burn.
Just make sure to push the dumbbells up so that they are inline with the angle of your chest. In other words don't go straight up and down. Bring the dumbbells down to your lower chest, and push off at an angle that is aligned with your lower chest.
This will ensure maximum firing of the lower chest!
Go for a rep scheme of 10, 10, 6
Instructions for weeks 5 through weeks 8
Week Five- Repeat week one
Week six- Repeat week two
Week seven- Repeat week three
Week eight- Repeat week four
I suggest logging your weights and reps for weeks one through four, for comparison to weights and reps completed in weeks 5-8.
I personally log the weights and reps I use for any muscle I am prioritizing. I don't usually log all my workouts or muscle groups, but if I am imploring the prioritization principle I do as I feel it offers unparallel advantages to setting goals in my mind.
I recommend that you do the same. It will help you organize the workouts better in your mind, and help you set higher goals for yourself during the next 4 weeks.
I wish you luck during these workouts!
Just remember you reap what you sow! So sow the seeds of conquest and pain and reap the reward of a bigger fuller chest!