Read an Excerpt
By Michael Berg
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
WHETHER YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF a beginner or more advanced lifter, this chapter, like this entire book, will give you plenty of workout options. From the specially designed starter program on page 2 — useful whether you're brand-new to the gym or returning after a long layoff — through the pro-caliber bodybuilder workouts on pages 8 through 15 you'll find just the program that fits your needs. Even if you don't belong to a gym, we've got you covered, as 2006 Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler demonstrates a workout you can do at home, with nothing more than a barbell set, dumbbells and an adjustable bench.
With that in mind, turn the page. It's time to choose a pectoral-building plan and put it to work for you.
FOR MOST GUYS, "CHEST DAY" IS THE BEST day of the week, training-wise. Here we set you on the right path in your chest quest with a machine-heavy routine that primes your pectorals for more specialized training down the road.
Some things to keep in mind ...
* As a beginner, err on the light side when choosing a weight. If you can't finish the listed reps, you've gone too heavy and need to drop down on the next set.
* As a note for here and throughout the book, if you see a decreasing rep scheme, pyramid up the weight each set; and if the reps are the same set to set, choose one challenging weight and use it for all the listed sets of that exercise.
DECLINE BARBELL PRESS
START: Lie back on a bench set to about a 30-40-degree decline. Grasp the barbell with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Lift the bar from the supports and hold it over your lower chest, arms extended.
MOVE: Lower the barbell to your chest, touching down to your lower pecs lightly before pushing the bar back up to full extension.
SMITH-MACHINE INCLINE PRESS
START: Position yourself on an incline bench set at about 45 degrees so that the bar touches the top of your chest just below your collarbone. Once your position is set, get up and load the bar, then lie back onto the bench and grasp the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
MOVE: Press the bar straight up, stopping just short of elbow lockout. Feel your pecs contract to bring your arms up above your torso. Pause at the top and lower the bar under control to your upper chest.
START: Sit in a pec-deck station, placing your elbows and upper arms on the pads. For best results, position your arms so that your elbows fall just below your shoulders, and limit the stretch to just behind your chest.
MOVE: Squeeze your pecs to bring the pads together in front of your chest. Flex your chest hard at the moment in the exercise when your elbows are together and always lower the weight under strict control. Don't bounce.
START: The traditional "drop-and-give-me-50" push-up is done with a flat back and hands just outside your shoulders (on steps or the floor).
MOVE: Press to full extension, keeping your elbows pointing out, and lower under control. Don't sag in the middle.
START: Sit in a pullover machine, grasping the handles with both hands while placing your elbows against the elbow pads.
MOVE: Bring the handles down in front of your torso, pause for a moment, then return back to the start under full control. To keep your pecs active, put more emphasis on pushing the bar down with your hands, rather than leading with your elbows pressing against the pads. In addition, actively flex your entire chest as you pull the bar down; using this "flexing" technique on all your chest exercises will help you develop the mind/muscle link that in time gives you pinpoint control over your muscles and their actions.
START: Grasp the bars with your arms extended and locked. Lean forward, bend your knees and cross your legs.
MOVE: Keep your elbows out to your sides as you lower yourself down, dropping until your upper arms are about parallel to the floor. Squeezing your palms toward each other in an isometric fashion, begin pressing back up until your arms are again fully extended. Be sure to keep leaning forward or the exercise focus will shift more to your triceps.
DO YOU ALWAYS FIND YOURSELF SHORT ON time? Not a problem, because here's a fast yet challenging 15-minute routine that hits your chest from multiple angles for a complete workout.
* The first two exercises and the last two are supersets, which are two exercises for the same bodypart done back to back with no rest in between. For instance, on your first set you'll do the Smith-machine flat-bench press for 12 reps, then immediately pick up two dumbbells for 8 reps of the neutral-grip flat-bench press.
* Rest 30-60 seconds between supersets (by the way, this general guideline applies to all supersets within this book).
NEUTRAL-GRIP FLAT-BENCH DUMBBELL PRESS
START: Grasping two dumbbells, lie on a flat bench and turn your wrists so they face each other, hands at each side of your torso.
MOVE: Press the dumbbells upward, allowing them to naturally move toward each other at the top (without touching). Then reverse the move back to the start, getting a good pectoral stretch at the bottom.
SMITH-MACHINE FLAT-BENCH PRESS
START: Load the appropriate weight, lie back on the bench and grasp the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
MOVE: Keep your elbows pointing outward as you press the bar straight up. Pause at the top, then lower the bar until it lightly touches your chest. If you reach failure without a spotter, simply rack the bar on the closest hook.
EXERCISE-BALL DUMBBELL FLYE
START: This exercise is similar in execution to the flat-bench flye, except that here your body works harder to keep you stabilized. Grab two dumbbells and lie back on a ball so that you face the ceiling. Extend the dumbbells out to each side of your body, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows to protect them from hyperextension.
MOVE: Without altering the angle in your elbows, bring the dumbbells up in an arc toward each other, stopping just short of touching over your chest. Lower them back along the same path to the start. To get more upper-chest emphasis, lower your hips toward the floor and perform in the same manner.
SEATED CHEST PRESS MACHINE
START: Position the handles of the machine so they line up with your mid to upper chest, sit back in the seat and grasp the handles with an overhand grip.
MOVE: Press the handles straight out in front of you until your arms are fully extended but not locked, then slowly bring your hands back toward your chest without letting the weights touch the stack.
START: This one will really work your shoulder stabilizers and improve your strength, balance and muscular coordination. Make sure the ball is fairly secure, and with your hands on the ball and feet on the ground, get into push-up position.
MOVE: Keeping your body straight as a plank, lower your chest to the ball by bending your elbows (let them point outward as you descend). Once you reach the bottom, press yourself back up to the start.
CHEST: AT HOME
WHETHER YOU ALWAYS WORK OUT AT HOME, or you have an adjustable bench, a barbell and dumbbells at home for days you don't feel like schlepping to the gym, we offer you effective workouts with minimal equipment.
* Don't do the incline barbell press at home unless you have a spotter; if you're by yourself, substitute this with dumbbell incline presses, which are just as effective.
* If your bench doesn't decline, try putting a 45-pound plate under one end of the bench (don't stack plates more than one high, for safety reasons).
INCLINE BARBELL PRESS
START: Lie on an incline bench and grasp the racked barbell with a just-outside-shoulder-width grip, palms facing the ceiling. Lift the bar off the rack and raise it until your arms are fully extended.
MOVE: Bend your elbows to lower the bar to just below your neck; at the bottom, your elbows should be out and away from your body but slightly in front of your shoulders. Contract your chest muscles and extend your elbows to press the bar up until your elbows are almost locked out.
INCLINE DUMBBELL FLYE
START: Set an incline bench at a 45-degree angle. Grasp a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench so that your back is flush against the pad. To start, raise the weights directly over the center of your upper chest so that your arms are nearly straight, palms face each other and the dumbbells touch.
MOVE: Keep your elbows bent slightly throughout and begin lowering the dumbbells out and down to your sides in an arc. When your upper arms are in roughly the same horizontal plane as your torso, your palms should face the ceiling. Retrace the same path to raise the weights, squeezing them together by forcefully contracting your chest muscles.
ONE-ARM DUMBBELL FLAT-BENCH PRESS
START: Grasp a dumbbell and lie face up on a flat bench. Extend your arm to lift the weight directly above your chest.
MOVE: Bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell to a point just outside of but in the same horizontal plane as your chest. Your elbow should be out to your side and slightly in front of your shoulder joint. Press the weight back up and in by simultaneously squeezing your pec and fully extending your arm. Finish your reps and repeat with your other arm.
DECLINE-BENCH DUMBBELL FLYE
START: Lie on a decline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. To start, raise the weights directly above the lower half of your chest so that your arms are nearly straight, your palms face each other and the dumbbells touch.
MOVE: Keep your elbows bent slightly throughout and begin lowering the dumbbells out and down to your sides in an arc. When your upper arms are in roughly the same horizontal plane as your torso, your palms should face the ceiling. Raise the weights back up in an arc, retracing the path of descent.
CHEST: DEXTER'S WORKOUT
WINNER OF MULTIPLE ARNOLD CLASSIC titles during his professional bodybuilding career, Dexter Jackson has risen to elite status in the sport. At 5'6", 225 pounds, "The Blade" beats larger competitors with his amazing symmetry and crisp conditioning.
In his chest routine, Dexter takes advantage of supersetting to really burn in the muscle detail.
* For pressing movements, he likes using an explosive upward motion and a controlled descent. On flyes, he uses a methodical, even cadence throughout.
* He's also a fan of machines for their stability — when moving heavy weight, a fixed range of motion brings a welcome level of safety to the exercise.
FLAT-BENCH BARBELL PRESS
START: "Barbell presses are the quintessential mass-builder," Dexter says. "I always put them first in my routine so I can go as heavy as possible." Lie faceup on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
MOVE: Unrack the bar and slowly lower it toward your chest. Keep your wrists aligned with your elbows and your elbows pointed out to your sides. When the bar just touches your chest, press back up explosively, driving the weight away from you until you almost lock it out.
HAMMER-STRENGTH INCLINE MACHINE PRESS
START: Adjust the machine so your back rests comfortably against the pad and your feet are flat on the floor. The handles should be aligned right at or just below shoulder level when you sit down.
MOVE: Using an explosive motion, concentrate on flexing your pectorals as you press the handles away from you. Avoid locking out your elbows at the top. "Don't forget to squeeze your chest hard at the peak of the contraction," Dexter says. "Just because you're not locking out doesn't mean you can't concentrate and contract at the top." Slowly reverse the motion — for full development, contracting the working muscles on the ascent and controlling the descent is an absolute necessity — and go right into the next rep.
START: Attach handles to the upper or lower pulleys on a cable machine. Stand in the direct center of the machine with your knees slightly bent, your focus forward and your stance stable. Shift your weight to the front to help maintain your position during each rep. Grasp the handles with your palms facing each other and bend your elbows slightly.
MOVE: In a simultaneous downward/inward motion, bring the handles to a point in the front of your midsection, keeping your arms slightly bent. Pause a moment and squeeze out a peak contraction before slowly allowing the handles to return to the start position, resisting the weight as you do so.
FLAT-BENCH DUMBBELL FLYE
START: Lie on a flat bench with your feet on the floor and your back pressed against the pad. Begin with your arms straight up from your shoulders, and the weights directly over your chest. Your palms should face each other and your elbows should be slightly bent.
MOVE: Slowly lower your arms out to your sides until your wrists come to about shoulder level or slightly above, then bring your arms back toward the midline of your body, focusing on using the center of your chest to draw them back together. "My repetition speed is the same on both the positive and negative portions for flyes," Dexter notes.
CHEST: OMAR'S WORKOUT
CALIFORNIA'S OMAR DECKARD KNOWS SIZE. Competing at a massive 260 pounds, the 2006 NPC USA superheavyweight and overall champ built his foundation by training like a powerlifter. Now his routine reflects a mix of those strength-lifting concepts and the higher-rep sets needed to bring about a muscle pump.
* "Your first exercise is the most important one in your workout because that's when you'll be able to push yourself the hardest," Omar says. "Choose mass movements like the bench press [to start]."
* To build your pecs, a squeeze at the apex of every rep is vital.
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
START: Lie squarely on the incline bench, which should be set at a fairly low angle. Hold the dumbbells just outside your shoulders.
MOVE: Forcefully press the weights up in an arc until your arms are fully extended above your chest. Reverse the motion, being sure not to overstretch your shoulders by lowering the weights below chest level.
START: This version of the pec-deck flye machine has handles instead of elbow pads. (Both versions of the pec deck are effective, acceptable choices.) Adjust the seat so that your shoulders, elbows and hands are on the same horizontal plane after you grab the handles.
MOVE: With your back squarely against the pad, forcefully bring the handles all the way together, making sure to keep your elbows up to make the movement more efficient and to reduce the risk of injury. Reversing the motion, allow the handles to go back to a point at which you feel a strong stretch in your pecs before beginning your next rep.
START: Lying across a flat bench, keep your glutes low, which affords you a greater stretch.
MOVE: Holding the inside edge of a dumbbell at arm's length overhead, allow the weight to go behind you, keeping your arms straight, stretching your pecs and lats but keeping your hips down. Reversing direction, pull the weight back up, breathing out only after reaching the uppermost position to ensure that your core is stable throughout the movement.
Excerpted from 101 Workouts by Michael Berg. Copyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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