Take a look inside almost any gym in America on a Monday night and it is likely that you will see 80% of the guys training chest. For most, chest seems to act as the weekly “lead off” muscle group, usually paired up with a smaller body part like biceps or triceps. Without a doubt most iron warriors desire a big pair of pecs because they carry with them a look of raw power and the mark of a “bodybuilder.” Even when massive pecs are hidden under a loose shirt they are hard to contain, forcing many gazing onlookers to ask, “So how much do you bench?”
However, if there are so many guys out there working their butts off to build near perfect pecs like Ronnie, Markus and Branch, then why are so few trainees successful? Personally, out of the dozens of guys I see in my own gym training chest hard once or even twice per week, only a few display pec development to truly be proud of. So what gives?
Well, as a bodybuilder and trainer with almost 20 years experience and just about an equal amount of research in my corner I can tell you that the lack of pec-perfection that most iron warriors face is often due to one or all of the following factors:
(1) Improper Body Positioning – Too many bodybuilders out there are front delt and triceps pressers rather than chest pressers! What I mean by this is because of a failure to properly “set up” the torso before the weight is even lifted off the rack, most trainees end up getting a great front delt and triceps workout, while leaving the pectoral muscles largely unstimulated. The key to forcing the chest to do the brunt of the work during presses and flyes is to put your feet flat on the floor, and raise up the ribcage by shrugging the shoulders back and downward, while simultaneously allowing a slight arch in the back. And you need to keep this position throughout the set in order to really trash the chest! It may feel odd at first, and your weights may need to be lowered a bit, but the new mass you will build onto your chest will be well worth it.
(2) Use of the Wrong Exercises – This is a very common mistake made most often by beginners and intermediates that are seeking monster pecs. I almost have to laugh when I see some young skinny kids (with no chest) toiling away at the cable crossover station…screaming and grunting as if they are doing any real work. And then there are all the fancy seated pressing machines that take away your need to stabilize the weight and force you into a fixed path! What happened to good old bench presses, incline presses, weighted dips, pullovers and heavy flyes? I never even touched a crossover or pec deck machine until I was preparing for my first show, and even then it was only as a finishing movement! Forget the pulleys, pivots, cables, and weight stacks and load some heavy iron onto a barbell and get to work! Arnold, Franco and Lou to this day might have had the best pec development ever, and they built it with the basics! You will too!
(3) Lifting too Heavy – For some reason when it comes to training chest many trainees feel that they must put so much weight on the bar that it bends! There have been countless times that I have watched in disgust as some guy is trying to bench press 315, and either he is getting forced reps from his partner from the very first rep…is bouncing the bar off his chest so hard that his ribs are ready to crack…and/or is performing a wrestler’s bridge with his back in order to move the weight a few inches! Well, I have news…not only is this going to produce little to no muscle growth at all, but it is also the quickest way to get injured! I know that everyone likes to ask, “How much can you bench,” but this is truly secondary if your intent is to build perfect pecs. Sure, if you are a powerlifter, then more and more weight is the goal, but not if you are a bodybuilder. Think in terms of using perfect form, with controlled movements (both concentric and eccentric) in a range of 6-15 reps per set. This is how you stimulate the anabolic machinery in motion.
(4) Too Much Volume – In an effort to get bigger, many bodybuilders believe in the “more is better” theory. “If I am not gaining on 12 sets, perhaps I need 15. If 15 is not working, I must need 20!” Where does this thinking end? Remember, our training only acts as a stimulus for hypertrophy, but the actual muscle is built when we are out of the gym and at rest! If you overtax your muscles and CNS with too much training volume, you will not be able to recuperate from your workouts and the body will not be able to repair the injured muscle while simultaneously overcompensating with new lean tissue. And this means ZERO GROWTH! There is no reason you cannot literally thrash the chest in 9-12 working sets! The chest will grow from focused intensity…not crazy volume.
Ok, so now that I have given you a few things to think about regarding why so few people are able to successfully build perfect pecs, let’s take a look a few good routines that will help you jump up a shirt size or two!
The Multi-Angular Pec-Attack
-Incline DB Press: 3 x 6-8 reps
-BB Bench Press: 3 x 8-10 reps
-Decline DB Flye…2 x 10-12 reps
-Low Cable Crossover…2 x 12-15 reps
The Upper Pec-Primer
-Smith Machine Bench Press to Neck…3 x 8-10
-High Incline DB Press…3 x 8-10
-DB Pullover…2 x 8-10
-Seated Flye Machine (elbows even with upper pecs)…2 x 8-10
-BB Bench Press…3 x 5-6
-BB Incline Press…3 x 5-6
-Decline DB Press…2 x 5-6
-Weighted Dips…2 x 5-6
-CEO B Built International www.b-built.net
-AAP Director of PR/Social Media/Marketing www.allamericanpharmaceutical.com
-Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member
-Columnist @ Iron Man/Planet Muscle/Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com
-Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems