Sometimes balance is overrated. Like when it’s June — the start of shirts-optional season — and your chest is far from beach-ready. Sure, you can diligently continue trying to build all your bodyparts in equal size and proportion; that’s probably the most prudent course of action. But then again, that level of patience may not be absolutely necessary unless you’re thinking about climbing onto a bodybuilding stage anytime soon. The rest of us can play favorites, and that’s the point of this chest workout. Meant to be done once every four days, it lets you provide maximum stimulation to trigger additional growth.
It begins with the incline dumbbell press: Don’t go all-out here, just use these as a warm-up with light weights and high reps, pyramiding up in 5-pound increments set to set as you prepare to swap the dumbbells for a barbell. For the incline bench press and the flat-bench press to follow, get a spotter and handle as much weight as you can while pyramiding up. You’ll work toward a near-maximum weight for three reps for the final set of inclines and flat presses. The reason is simple: A stronger muscle is by nature a bigger muscle. So challenge your pecs.
After those, you’ll wind down the pressing portion of the workout with dumbbell presses using the flat bench. Start with a heavier weight and pyramid down set to set.
Next, you have a choice: either cable crossovers or the flye machine. Even better, rotate between the two from workout to workout, but always make sure to do every rep slowly and under complete control. You may even want to add a super-slow technique on the final two sets, taking a full five seconds to perform the positive portion of the rep and five seconds to do the negative, breathing deeply and concentrating on the flexion and extension of the pectorals throughout.
Your finisher involves no additional weight besides your body itself, but that won’t make it easy. Far from it, in fact. The superset begins with chest dips — lean your torso a bit forward and flare your elbows out slightly to better stimulate the pecs — and ends with standard push-ups, done until you can’t complete a rep with good form.
Try this workout on a Monday, then do it again on Thursday while keeping the intensity on your other bodyparts to a minimum. You wouldn’t want to follow an unbalanced schedule forever, but pair it for a month or two with a high-protein muscle-building diet and you might just add appreciable mass to your pecs before the sun sets on another summer.
Rest three to four minutes between sets on your barbell presses (flat and incline) to allow for adequate recovery. Keep rest periods to 90 seconds or less on all other sets.
1 Increase the weight on each set but do not take any set to failure.
2 Start with the heaviest weight you can handle for six reps, then reduce the weight each successive set to reach failure at the reps listed.
3 Maintain wide elbows and a slight forward lean to keep the emphasis on your pecs.