Maximizing your chest development

By Musclemania Pro Ben Agboke

My chest was a weak area for me for quite a long time. Consequently this forced me to radically change the way in which I trained my chest. I believe the training regime I use for my chest now is effective and versatile. It is a training system that can be used if your chest is a weak body part or even if your chest is a fairly strong body part and you want to develop it further.

Firstly, I must stress that I train my chest once a week and no more. This allows for maximum recuperation and helps to avoid over-training.

I do 3 different exercises and 2 to 3 working sets per exercise. I usually perform 2 warm-up sets for each exercise (this is done after my general warm-up which consists of 5 to 7 minutes cycling or skipping).

I stick to basic multi-joint compound movements (exercises) that recruit multiple muscle groups – flat dumbbell press, flat barbell press, incline dumbbell press, incline barbell press, dips, decline dumbbell press and decline barbell press. Occasionally I will incorporate dumbbell flyes, cable-crossovers or pec-dec flyes into my chest training (I do these isolation exercises more frequently in the latter stages of my pre-contest season). I train my chest for no longer than twenty-five minutes.

In my opinion lengthy high volume workouts are a waste of time. You cannot possibly achieve high intensity if you are performing too many exercises and sets. A typical workout for me would include: one exercise for the pectoralis major (a flat bench exercise); one exercise for the upper pecs; and one for the lower pecs. So for example, in a typical chest session I may do flat barbell bench press, incline dumbbell press and finish with decline barbell press. To keep my chest constantly stimulated no two successive chest workouts are ever the same. From one chest session to the next something is changed – it could be the exercises, the order of the exercises or the way in which I do them. This last point refers to different training principles I employ such as drop sets, compound sets, forced reps and tri-sets. I usually do 8 to 10 reps per set though occasionally I may do 4 to 6 reps or 15 to 20 reps.

Now I know you’re probably wondering about what sort of poundages I lift? Well the easy answer to that is, as heavy or as light as is required to do the job. “What the hell is he on about?” I hear you say. Basically you’ve all heard the saying, ‘weights are only a means to an ends’, the ‘ends’ in this case being a thick well developed chest. In other words your biomechanics (form) is the most important thing. It’s better to do 4 good quality reps (reps done with impeccable form) than 10 to 12 poor quality, poor form reps. So do not lift more than you can handle – control the weight do not let it control you!

To conclude, if you want to build an impressive chest you need to take the following into consideration:

  • Intensity – train really hard. Think quality not quantity.
  • Biomechanics – do not sacrifice form for anything, not even your ego.
  • Recuperation – train your chest once a week allowing for plenty of time for recovery.
  • Stretch – a lot of people do not stretch enough. Stretch before, between and after your sets.

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