CHEST IN TIME
Perfect Pecs In Just 20 Minutes a Week
For most bodybuilders, the chest raesponds faster and more favorably than any other bodypart. That’s due mostly to the fact that the pectorals are made up of type II
(white) muscle fibers. These muscles are characterized by their fast speed of contraction and their high capacity for anaerobic glycolysis. In other words, they’re easy to “pump.”
Another reason why the chest is quickly developed is because the pectoral muscles are rarely stressed to any great extent in most daily activity, so once they’re subjected to the stress of lifting heavy iron, they explode with growth! Some theorists believe it may be simply that the chest is so close to the heart, allowing for instantaneous blood flow. At any rate, if the chest is so easily developed, why is it that so few people have great looking chests?
The major problem isn’t in obtaining more size, it’s the manner in which the chest is trained. We’ve all seen the guys with the big bunchy chest or the chest that bulges or hangs. This is the result of improper chest training. The pecs run across the top of the rib cage and should be slablike in appearance – wide, high and tight. Although a muscle’s shape is determined mostly by genetics, the goal is to get the pecs to be as
“square” as possible. This requires even development. As mentioned, since the pecs develop quickly, it shouldn’t take more than one workout per week (approximately 20 minutes) to achieve this goal. But it has to be done right.
When working any fast twitch muscle group for size and strength, it’s best to use compound movements. These can be defined as basic exercises that allow for the use of heavy weights. Compound movements not only place greater stress on the targeted muscle but they implement many of the stabilizing muscles as well. In contrast to the compound movement is the isolation exercise. These are movements that are designed to hit specific parts of a muscle and bring out detail. A perfect example of a compound exercise is the bench press. It’s a simple movement, yet it requires proper execution and balance. It also brings many “assisting” muscles into play such as the triceps, the serratus magnus, and the anterior deltoid. It is its simplicity that makes it so effective. But it comes with a caveat, as you’ll see.
Unlike a machine exercise, maintaining proper form during the bench press with a free weight barbell requires more of the nervous system, which in turn makes the exercise more anabolic. But a bench press negates movement to a degree because the body is braced. If overloaded, the delts will give out first, which is why so many people blow out their shoulders while benching. Going with the understanding that the bench press is so effective, one would think that it’s the best chest exercise. That line of thinking combined with people’s adulation of the movement leads many a bodybuilder to think of it as the “main” chest exercise. After all, what’s the first question someone asks when they want to get an idea of your strength? It’s invariably; “How much do ya bench?”
Unfortunately, too much dependence on the bench press is what leads to narrow, low and ultimately imbalanced pec development. In order to achieve a truly magnificent chest, it’s imperative to combine both isolation movements and several compound movements in the proper order. You should also keep benching at a minimum.
The following program combines all of the necessary elements for complete pectoral training. Work quickly, but pay attention to form. Here’s a tip. If you’re training while watching TV or engrossed in the music playing over your headset, you’re not paying full attention. Concentrate!
1) Dumbell flyes
This is most definitely an isolation move, geared more as a warm up and to pre- exhaust the muscle group. It also works well as a nice stretch. While lying on a flat bench, hold two dumbells overhead, palms facing inward. Lower the weights out to the sides with slightly bent arms. Raise and repeat for 10-12 reps. There’s no need to
go heavy on this movement. Dumbell flyes are not mass builders. This is merely preparing the muscles for the oncoming onslaught.
Do only 2 sets and move onto…
2) Parallel Bar Dips
This is the very best exercise for developing the chest muscles. Not only is it a compound exercise, but it has the added benefit of requiring the body itself to move through space. Any exercise of this type is usually superior to an exercise that requires the pushing or pulling of a bar. It’s the reason squatting is so much more effective than the leg press. Whenever the body moves through space, more muscle fibers are activated.
In order to put the most emphasis on the chest muscles when performing dips, keep your chin on your chest, round your back, lean forward slightly, and hold the feet forward under your face. Dip downwards as low as you can without discomfort and raise upwards into the straight arm position. Keep a steady tempo. This exercise really brings out the “sweep” of the lower pecs. Ten reps should be relatively easy for a conditioned athlete. But here’s the kicker. Rest only 30 seconds and repeat the set, again going for 10 reps. If this is too easy, use a weighted belt to add resistance. Do
3 sets to failure , each with only 30 seconds of rest between sets. Not so tough now, are ya headset boy?
Next up is…
3) The Bench Press
Use a weight heavy enough that you reach failure at around 8 reps. Be careful though! Those dips may have taken more out of you than you realize. Start with a comfortable weight. If you haven’t reached near- failure by the 10th rep, keep going until you do. Adjust the weight accordingly the next set. You’ll only need 3 sets of bench presses…tops. (Remember, the goal here isn’t to lift more weight for the sake of lifting more weight–it’s to work the chest as efficiently as possible.)
Now we move on to…
4) Incline Dumbell Presses
This movement helps develop the upper pecs, providing “lift” and fullness. The mistake most people make with this movement is setting the incline too high. Anything above a 35 degree angle will put too much emphasis on the shoulders, negating the inclusion of the pectoral muscles.
Press the dumbells overhead, paying strict attention to keeping them perfectly vertical to the ground. Palms should face forward but you may want to try and twist the hands slightly so that the pinkies are farther back than the thumbs. This will force the elbows to move “out” slightly, putting additional stress on the pectoralis minor.
(The pec-deltoid “tie in”) Work in the 8-10 rep range. Rest one minute and repeat. Do
The hardest part is over. Now it’s time for a “finishing” movement–something that will flush blood into the area, enhancing the pump and aiding recuperation.
Once again we go with an isolation move.
5) The Cable Crossover
Hold a pair of overhead pulleys, palms facing each other. Lean forward slightly and allow the pecs to pull the arms forward until the knuckles touch in front of the sternum. At this point, continue crossing the hands until you feel a strong contraction in the center of your chest. This brings out the “split” that separates the left and right pectoral. Since this is an isolation movement and not intended to build mass, work in the 15-25 rep range. This is your last set. You’re done. Total time: About 20 minutes. If the workout takes longer than that, you were dawdling along the way.
Although lifting heavy is the way to go, don’t be tempted to take longer breaks in an attempt to simply lift heavier poundages. The goal is to build muscle, not to impress the guy (or most likely the girl) working out next to you. Besides, another advantage of working out quickly is that it induces the natural secretion of growth hormone. Any strain that continues beyond an hour’s time will not release further growth hormone. Get in. Get to work. Get out.
Chest development may be comparatively easy, but it still takes a concerted effort. Don’t allow that effort to be in vain. Give this routine a try and you’ll soon be on your way towards an armor plated chest.
There’s an old expression: “Do you want it fast – or do you want it good?” Luckily, when it comes to chest training, you can have both.