One of the most impressive muscle groups for a bodybuilder has to be the pectorals. There is nothing quite as intimidating and imposing as that armor plated look that a seasoned bodybuilder has who has trained his chest muscles correctly. From the upper pecs that almost look like armor plating, down to the lower sweep of the muscle where it attaches to the lower shoulder, a complete chest will definitely turn heads when you take off your shirt.
So how to get that look? Well, first remember that as in all aspects of bodybuilding, nothing happens overnight! You have to train with intensity, regularly and intelligently. Proper rest and diet are probably as important if not more important than your actual training so do not neglect those!
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles such as my series on Why Can’t I Get Bigger?, it’s also important to not overtrain. Unlike smaller muscle groups such as your biceps and triceps, your chest can take more of a pounding and more sets but remember: Use your mind as well as your body! If you are not getting stronger or bigger, overtraining might very well be the culprit.
I’ve used this routine myself and on others I’ve trained over the years and it usually gets a pretty good blast to the entire chest area.
Important Note: The weights listed here are strictly for illustrative purposes. Always chose a weight that you can handle for the stated reps. If you need a spotter for safety be sure to have a buddy around.
We’re aiming for 9 – 12 sets TOTAL! It might be unusual for you but I typically start with the incline bench. Do 2 or 3 warmup sets with light weight. Go for something light enough where you can do 12-15 reps.
- Warm Up Sets
- 135 lb x 15 reps
- 135 lb x 12-15 reps
- 135 lb x 12 reps
Once you’ve warmed up your joints/shoulder area and gotten some blood flow to your chest, get right on it.
- 185 lb x 10 – 12 reps
- 225 lb x 8 – 10 reps
- 250 lb x 8 reps
- 275 lb x 6 reps
After you’ve blasted your upper pecs, you will not be as strong on the flat bench as you would be if you’d done that first. Thats okay! Head over to the flat bench!
- 250 lb x 8 – 10 reps
- 225 lb x 6 – 10 reps
- 225 lb x 6 – 8 reps
At this point your chest should be completely pumped and while you might be eager to keep hammering for another 3 or 4 sets, keep in mind that it’s probably not necessary. Let’s head over to stretch those pecs out with some dumbell flyes.
The key to doing flyes correctly is to really get a good stretch in the bottom postition. Your elbows should be slightly cocked. Don’t lock out your elbows! The motion you want to go for is like Arnold described almost 30 years ago: Bring your arms up as if you’re hugging a big tree.
- 50 lb x 8 – 10 reps
- 50 lb x 6 – 10 reps
- 50 lb x 6 – 10 reps
If you have chosen poundages that are correct, this should be more than enough to completely fatigue your chest. If you are using weights that are too heavy you won’t be able to continue through this. Too light and you’re wasting time. Remember: Pick a weight that is heavy enough for YOU. Forget what others are doing or how much they’re lifting. You should be struggling to complete your final reps but at no time should you need the help of a spotter for your first sets or reps. If you do, the weight is too heavy.
Also remember that you should try to mix up your routine from time to time. I rarely go more than 2 or 3 weeks doing the same exercises. Try these others along with your basic compound movements:
- Cable flyes
- Pec Deck
- Weighted dips
- Decline bench
Mix it up, keep the weights moving, eat right, get enough sleep. You’ll be sporting amazing pectoral development in no time!