Your pecs might be good, but are they pro quality? Are they chiseled and massive? Do they bulge when you flex in front of the mirror? If you can’t say yes to at least two of these, this workout is for you.
Everyone spends relatively the same amount of time in the gym working out – whether doing legs or abs or calves or arms or chest – so if that’s true, why does one guy develop an absolutely awesome set of pecs in that amount of time and rest don’t? The answer is that they don’t have the total package formula that allows them to transcend simply good pecs, for strapping pecs.
But the mainstay of building a good chest, apart from a total program, is workout dependent. To forge an effective workout program, it’s first imperative to understand what muscles comprise the chest and how to target them specifically.
In building a strong, powerful chest you need to understand that its imperative to target more than just one muscle. Not only should you focus on the Pectoralis Major, you need to also shift primary focus to the Pectroalis Minor. But that’s not all. Secondarily you’ll also focus on the Serratus Anterior, the Intercostals and the Front Deltoids.
The Pectoralis Major is the bulk of thick muscle that spreads across the chest in a triangular fan shape from deltoid to sternum, and also connects to the clavicle. Workouts should include range of motion exercises that span this distance to three points.
The two sections of the Pectoralis Major are the Clavicular section which is the upper portion of the muscle that connects to the clavicle (collar bone), and the Sternal section which is lower and connects to the sternum. The most common mistake people make is thinking that the upper pec is the Pectoralis Major and the lower pec region is the Pectoralis Minor – which is not true.
In actuality, the Pectoralis Minor is a smaller triangular shaped muscle that sits beneath the Pectoralis Major and is not particularly visible until contest time when you see it emerge just under the heft of the pecs. Training this, however, means that you build a bench beneath an already bulging pec, and create more heft in the flexed state.
So where do the serratus and intercostals come in? Well, the Serratus Anterior, which sits along the chest wall and fans in throughout the upper ribcage, and the intercostals, which sit between each rib, are both muscle groups that help stabilize the chest area. Building them also lends definition to the chest and a depth to the pecs – from a large ribcage – that creates a well put together stage look. So hitting these muscles in addition to the pec major and minor will add amazing aesthetics and size to the upper body.
TYPES OF EXERCISE CATEGORIES
In order to increase bulk, strength and overall mass, the very best exercises for major muscle groups like the chest, are compound exercises.
Compound exercises involve the use of more than one muscle group and a variety of different joints in any one movement. So, exercises like the bench press or dips are examples of compound movements.
Isolation exercises, on the other hand, effectively isolate the working muscle and only involve movement through the range of motion with typically one joint. Examples are pec dec, cable crossover, and dumbbell flyes.
A WORD ON FORM….
Form is also important, and can’t be overlooked in terms of development. So let me let you in on a secret that, alone, may change your chest workouts and your ability to pack on mass forever. Ready? When you position yourself on a bench to do a chest exercise, and you hoist your first rep, make sure that your shoulders aren’t going above your chest in height. Raising your ribcage and putting a small arch in your lower back will help ensure this. You wouldn’t believe how many people bring their shoulders off the pad and extend as they press. But when you do, what happens is, the chest goes concave and development never happens. So while your buddies are getting D cup pecs, you’re chalking up your poor progress to poor genetics!
Remember these few small things next time you go into the gym and it might improve things immediately.
BIG PEC WORKOUT
We’re going to move through the workouts in both a beginner’s and advanced workout because even beginners can follow this to a general degree. Anyone who has been training less than a year, but is dedicated, should do the beginner workout. Anyone who has been working out successfully for longer than that, and has reached a plateau or is not happy with their current program or development, should do the advanced workout.
Beginners can lay a good foundation and build pecs faster by following this program. They’ll avoid the struggles, potentially, that the people doing the advanced workout in this program have encountered because they’ll be starting out right.
BARBELL EXERCISES – Barbell work is ideal for putting on size – the bench press is the power movement for chest development and should be included early on. (A sidenote: If you have not done bench press before with a barbell, get instruction and spotting on proper form prior to endeavoring it so that you start off correctly as you begin at lower weights and move up the ladder). In the bench press, the range of motion you are able to use is quite limited, so using different bench angles (like incline, flat, and decline) is essential. Using additional grip widths (narrow, normal and wide) and types (normal and false grip) is also essential to getting the most out of the barbell apparatus. Making these alterations and using these variations allows you to work the entire chest more completely.
FLAT-BENCH BARBELL PRESS (entire chest, anterior deltoid, triceps) Lie on a flat bench with your feet on the ground. Position yourself so the bar is directly above your eyes. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and extend your arms upward. Don’t lock elbows, just go until arms are straight. Keep motion fluid and not jerky. If you shake on the way down in the first few reps, it’s too heavy. Use less weight or do fewer reps if that’s the case. Lower the bar slowly until your upper arms are roughly parallel with the floor – not below – and touch the chest. Going too far below or bouncing the bar on to the chest for more upward mobility and momentum can injure elbows and shoulders. Repeat. 4 x 8
DECLINE BARBELL PRESS (lower chest, anterior deltoid, triceps) Lie on a decline bench set to 45-degrees. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and extend your arms toward the ceiling. Use a false grip – thumbs on the same side as fingers so that it forms a cup that prevents gravity from allowing the bar to roll you’re your neck. This is a point of safety. Lower the bar slowly to a point right below the center of your chest until the upper arms are more or less parallel with the floor. Keep the motion steady and fluid and don’t bounce. 3 x 10
DUMBBELL EXERCISES – Dumbbell exercises require more stability and coordination than those done with a barbell because you are moving through the range of motion without any part of the apparatus fixed. But the good news is, if you can master balance and stability through a range of motion without a fixed bar or machine, dumbbells will provide a greater range of flexibility and motion. With any new exercise as a beginner, you need to have a spotter, to ensure your arm is moving the weight through the appropriate pathway. Economy of movement is important with dumbbells because deviating from the range of motion that is logical and correct will mean the intensity of energy through that range is compromised and effectiveness is diminished.
FLAT-BENCH DUMBBELL PRESS (entire chest, anterior deltoid, triceps) Lie on a flat bench and hold a pair of dumbbells over your chest with palms facing forward and arms extended. Lower the weight until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor, and repeat. 4 x 10
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS (upper chest, anterior deltoid, triceps) Lie on an incline bench set at a 30 to 45-degree angle. Hold a pair of dumbbells on your lap and kick each one up to shoulder and chest level with the knee it sits on. Get used to this since going heavier will require you to kick up the dumbbells to avoid compromising or injuring shoulders. Dumbbells even with chest, palms facing forward, lift dumbbells straight up toward ceiling and avoid going forward. Keep forearms and elbows tight. Push up until elbow is extended, but not locked out. Squeeze cheat as you lean head back into pad. Lower weights back down slowly until upper arm is parallel to the floor. Repeat. 3 x 8
The earliest periodization training schemes utilized by the Russians in the 1920s and 1930s were logical if not basic. They theorized that training should be divided into what they called general, preparatory, and specific phases – each phase accomplishing something specific and different from the phase before.
You’ll be employing periodization techniques in your workouts. Periodization divides your overall training program into periods which accomplish different goals and chops up your training time up into distinct blocks to be tackled in one or two goals at a time.
For example, in your first phase, you’ll be working your chest to increase capacity for weight, volume and intensity. In the second phase, you’ll be trying to push the limits of mass gain by increasing weight and decreasing reps using power movements for the most part. The third and final phase will be fine tuning everything you have done.
A sidenote: Within periodization, you’ll often hear people talk about a macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle. A macrocycle is the three to four month-period that begins each workout program. The mesocycle deals with the phases of training during each month and the microcycle is the day-to-day workouts you do during the two phases we just mentioned.
ADVANCED PEC WORKOUT
Since advanced bodybuilders know how to execute movements, we won’t give lengthy explanations. But if you do have questions about how to perform something, don’t hesitate to watch people who are successfully building massive pecs – they can help shed light on grips, form, and other aspects of lifting that don’t translate well on paper.
In the first phase, you’ll want to keep rep ranges on the higher side because you want to push your pecs into doing more work and adapting to higher volume and intensity. You’ll work chest 2 to 3 times a week, based on how many days off you need in between.
Workout I – Increasing Endurance Phase/ Pre-power – 8 weeks
Characteristics: Moderate weight; Twice weekly workouts; Varying set types (pyramid, descending, strip sets and super sets)
Incline Bench Press 3 x (12, 10, 8)
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x (12, 10, 8)
Lateral Flyes 2 x (12, 10)
Decline Bench Press 2 x (12, 10)
The best chest exercises to increase bulk are typically compound movements, we all know. But these exercises performed with dumbbells make the movements even more effective. Try to alternate both bars and dumbbells in your compound movements – they allow each side of the body to work independently through the full range of motion and that naturally strengthens the area and the surrounding muscle groups, and tendons.
The first routine will help you develop a thick and powerful chest. As an advanced bodybuilder you’ll want to keep a log because in periodization techniques, you’ll want to know what you did, when, in order to make meaningful changes to your workouts and take the appropriate rest. Once you easily hit your rep ranges, it’s time to increase weight, but try first to focus on form.
Workout II – Power phase
Characteristics: Twice weekly workouts; Heavy weights; 3 minutes rest between sets
After doing the workout above for 8 weeks, twice weekly, you’ll move to the once a week workout that follows, for a period of 6 weeks:
Bench press 3 x (8, 6, 4)
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x (10, 8, 8)
Dips 4 x (8, 10, 8, 8)
Pullovers 3 x (6, 8, 6)
Workout III – Super Power phase –
Characteristics: Once weekly; Heavy weights; 1-2 minutes rest between sets
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press 3 x (8, 10, 8)
Smith Machine Incline Press 4 x (8, 10, 12, 8)
Pullovers 3 x (8, 8, 10)
Cable Cross over 3 x (8, 10, 12)
Dips 3 x (8, 8, 8)
ELECTROLYTES/ FLUIDS THAT PREVENT CRAMPS
Heavy workouts can leave you parched and dehydrated – especially in summer. And if you’re doing heavy workouts and get dehydrated, the first thing to happen is usually cramping. You don’t want your chest to go into a wicked painful cramp during a rep, where it spasms in mid-air. So I suggest you take an electrolyte drink to the gym to sip in between sets. Your pumps will be better and you won’t get into difficulty in the middle of a heavy training session.
Water, of course, is important to flush toxins – byproducts of training – but you also need to keep yourself from cramping and electrolyte drinks are a great way to do it. Don’t confuse hydration with electrolyte balance because they are two separate things.
Some say drinking Gatorade is good, but it’s pure sugar and salt. That’s fine if you can tolerate that, but the strong stuff is usually found in runner’s stores. Try to find one that doesn’t have glucose in it and mix it into your water bottle.
Drinking water and achieving the appropriate electrolyte balance also makes pumps and the appearance of your pecs, or any other muscle, much better and fuller. Lack of proper electrolyte balance can create the illusion that you are flat and not making progress.
Since this is a mass building program, you’ll be eating higher calories than if you were dieting strictly for a contest. However, we recommend that you eat CLEAN calories, plenty of carbs and healthy fats and lots of protein. So you aren’t going to be eating 8000 calories – you don’t need to in order to build great pecs – but you’ll be eating around 3500 clean calories daily. Keep it clean and you’ll look full and relatively lean all year long. Eat consistently clean (consistency is key!), and you’ll look good most of the time.
When you lack carbs in your diet, your muscles can look deflated and soft. In general, you’ll keep your carbs around 40% of your diet. You’ll keep your protein at around 45% and your fats around 15%. But you’ll be eating in phases also, depending upon the stage of periodization.
PHASE 1: Eating 3500 calories, and the above ratio
PHASE 2: Eating 2800 calories, 30% carbs, 50% protein, 20% fats
PHASE 3: Eating 2500 calories, 20% carbs, 60% protein, 20% fats
PHASE 2: Boost meals to 5-6 meals per day and begin eating vegetables with them. You may now drink whey protein that has no carbs. Flax seed oil is crucial here as it lends itself to fat burning. Training either before protein shake (cardio) or after (resistance routine) is good here. Do this phase for 6-8 weeks.
Example of Phase 1 Meal Plan:
Meal 1: 4 eggs, lean ham steak, 2 cups oatmeal
Meal 2: Protein shake: whey protein, whole milk, peanut butter
Meal 3: 2-3 chicken breasts, 1 large yam, 2 cups broccoli, 1/2 cup almonds
Meal 4: 8 oz. Ribeye steak on the grill, 1.5 cups rice (or 1 cup corn grits)
Meal 5: Post training protein shake: whey protein, whole milk, almond butter
Meal 6: Salmon steak (10 oz), 1 large yam, green beans, salad w/ 1000 island dressing
Example of Phase 3 Meal Plan:
Meal 1: Protein powder, flax seed oil, L-Caritine, ECA stack (see supplement section below) and train
Meal 2: Whole eggs, lean ham, lettuce, light dressing
Meal 3: Protein powder, flax seed oil
Meal 4: Chicken breast, avocado (whole), 1/2 yam, sliced almonds, 2 cups lettuce, diet dressing, flax seed oil
Meal 5: 8 oz Tilapia fish, bunch of asparagus
Meal 6: Steak – 10 oz ribeye, broccoli – 2 cups steamed or raw
Rest in between heavy training phases is what everyone needs to build massive body parts. But there are two perspectives of rest: Rest in the workout and rest between workouts.
Resting in between workouts is the key to growth and growth hormone release. Sleep is the time you grow, as they say. Because you’ll be training twice a week in some phases and once a week in others, rest is crucial and is obviously different depending upon the phase of periodization.
Rest in between chest sets and exercises themselves will also define your growth. Resting for 1-2 minutes between heavy sets in a heavy phase will benefit you – resting that long when you are trying to boost intensity will not. You’ll be doing both, so adjust your rest periods.
Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep – particularly in your heavy training phase. Also take naps as frequently as you can. Usually that means weekends for most people. And stagger your training based on how you feel. If, for example, you are training twice weekly, but you do best with just two days in between, you’ll work chest on a Monday, Thursday, and Sunday. So in that week it appears to be 3 times trained. But pay closer attention to how your body responds with the number of days in between than strictly adhering to a program that says “twice weekly workouts” – it may appear that you’ve trained 3 times, but the next week it will only be twice. Determine whether you train twice weekly with 2 days in between or 3 days in between.
Rest between phases should be a FULL WEEK OFF.
Mass Building supplements are the order of the day when it comes to building a massive set of pecs, and this daily stack will deliver you to the land of ungodly muscle:
CREATINE – no mass building routine is complete without creatine. Creatine monohydrate or CEE, it’s your choice, but your workouts should begin with creatine in your bloodstream. It’s simply the best mass building supplement you can take in the gym, and something every good bodybuilder uses because of its ability to increase cell volume and enable more powerful workouts.
ECDYSTERONE – the more nitrogen your body maintains and the greater rate of protein synthesis, the more muscle mass you’ll build and that’s what Ecdysterone can do for you. Basically, you’ll get more oxygen to the cells and increase your muscle’s capacity to work longer and harder.
NITROUS OXIDE – a great training aid to also increase your body’s capacity for cellular oxygen uptake, wicked pumps and a greater chance at mass-building
GH RELEASERS – these are usually taken at night during recuperation. Typically, a gh releaser will include some blend of L-arginine, L-ornithine, perhaps some glycine, and occasionally some preparations add Colostrum.
WHEY PROTEIN – always include a good quality whey protein in the picture when trying to build mass, lose fat or sustain life. If you could have just one supplement, this would be it. Consider it food and supplement in one.
Androstenedione (4-androsten-3, 17-dione) – converts testosterone in the body
19-Norandrostenedione (19-Nor-4-androsten-3,17-dione) – converts nandrolone in the body
5-Diol or 5AD (5-androsten-3,17-diol) converts testosterone in the body
4-diol or 4AD (4-androsten-3,17-diol) – converts testosterone in the body
1AD (1-androstene-3beta, 17beta-diol) – converts 1-testosterone in the body
TRIDENOSEN – Tridenosen H™ is extremely anabolic. It triggers increased nitrogen retention and protein synthesis through two different mechanisms of action. Users will get better pumps and fuller muscles using it. It also suppresses fat receptors giving the user a very lean, tight and striated look, as well as an overall increase in vascularity from increased EPO production.
Cardio is something everyone should do because it burns fat all over the body and boosts the metabolic rate.
Varying intensity of cardio, type of cardio and length of cardio session is also important because your cardio can’t compete with your mass-building. For the first phase, keep cardio a variety of anaerobic and aerobic activity. Run stairs one day to boost your heart rate higher than fat burning, and then in two days do a treadmill incline walk for 30 minutes. Keep it moderate or high intensity, not high fat burning necessarily.
Remember, you can vary many factors in your cardio routine (Type, Frequency, Resistance/ Difficulty, Time, Intensity, Interval) and you should play around with them all to find what you do best with when mass-building. We all know how to do cardio to burn fat, but to keep what we’re building and also make it look more ripped, a clean diet and cardio is essential. But keep it to a minimum. Three days a week max is good.
Try to do cardio outdoors and do things that also work the upper body, such as kayaking. It’s a great workout and you’re out on the water getting a tan, which will help your pecs look bigger. Try to incorporate the outdoors, kayaking, mountain biking, etc. into your workouts and you’ll find that you’ll get just lean enough, but will preserve the mass you’re building.