CHEST IN TIME
Perfect Pecs In Just 20 Minutes a Week
For most bodybuilders, the chest responds faster and more favorably than any
other body part. 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 slab-like 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
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 2 sets.
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.
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