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Chest Training
by: Jeff Schwartzer

Chest training is usually one of the top priorities in a man's workout. Just look around any gym on a Monday and you'll see mostly bench presses being performed for an insane amount of sets.  This, most feel, is the staple for optimal chest growth.  Not to take anything away from this exercise, but I feel it is NOT the number one exercise for COMPLETE muscle growth.  Notice I say, complete because the descriptions you are about to read will help you get that complete chest, developed from every angle.  The only time flat bench presses are of prime priority is if you were a powerlifter and being this is one of three events performed in a powerlifting meet.

** Women tend to not like training chest for fear of losing their feminine look and losing their breast tissue.  Breast tissue is simply bodyfat and will only be lost through caloric restriction and a cardiovascular routine.**

Women, don't neglect this muscle either.  It is important to you too to develop a balanced physique.  Women tend to not like training chest for fear of losing their feminine look and losing their breast tissue.  Breast tissue is simply bodyfat and will only be lost through caloric restriction and a cardiovascular routine.  The reason I recommend training chest for women is to keep the body in balance.  Just as the lower back and abs work synergistically together, the chest and back also do.  The cliche always comes to mind, "You are only as strong as your weakest link".  Keeping the body in complete harmony will prevent injuries and give you that overall balanced look.

*As with all workouts, perform 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular work to get blood flowing and warm up the muscles.  I see all the time, people jump right into a heavy set of bench presses without proper warmup.  This just sets the stage for injury.  It may not happen today, but over time micro trauma is being caused to the surrounding tissue and eventually something will give.

*Always perform two to four light warmup sets prior to increasing weight.  Keep these sets in the 15-20 range. This will increase blood flow to the working muscles and prime them for the work ahead.


As most trainees prefer flat bench presses first in their workout, I prefer inclines first.  Remember, we are interested in developing overall balance.  In all my years of training, going on 18 years now, I have never seen an individual with a weak middle chest.  The weak area is always upper, outer, or inner.  This is due to the fact that most beginning and intermediate trainees perform some form of flat bench presses first in their workout.  In order to offset this inbalance, perform an incline exercise first choosing from incline barbell presses, incline dumbbell presses, incline Smith-machine presses or incline machine presses (I really like the Hammer Strength machines).  Complete four to five sets attempting to increase weight with each set, but never dropping below six repetitions per set.  Dropping to two or three repetitions does little for developing a chest.  Since a well developed chest is generally the goal, train like a bodybuilder and not a powerlifter.

* When performing any one of these three exercises, bring the barbell or dumbbell to the upper chest just below the neck line tapping the upper chest to get the full stretch and then explode the weight back up to the top position just short of locking out the elbows. This will keep constant tension on the chest muscle and prevent breakdown of the elbow joint.


Second exercise in the workout should now be a flat press exercise. Choose from one of the following: flat barbell presses, flat dumbbell presses, flat Smith-machine presses or flat machine presses.  This exercise will develop the middle of the chest.  Here you lower the weight to the midline of the chest, tap the chest and explode the weight back to the starting point, once again stopping just shy of locking out the elbows. Perform four to five sets maintaining a repetition range of 6-12.  Attempt to increase the weight with each set.

Third in the workout will be dumbbell flyes (either incline or flat) or pec deck.  These exercise will develop the outer chest muscles.  Pick incline if upper chest is a problem area.  Execution of these exercises begins with palms facing each other while arm are extended.  Open up arms in an outstretched postion with only a slight bend at the elbows all the while keeping the palms facing in.  Here you should feel a deep stretch in the outer chest.  Once at the outer most stretched position, return to beginning position while keeping an arc range of motion and slight bend to the elbows. Squeeze the chest at the top position before returning for an additional repetition.  Aim for a goal of 8-15 repetitions attempting to increase weight with each set.

Fourth and final exercise can be cable crossovers or an additional pressing exercise if chest development lags behind other bodyparts.  Cablecrossovers are performed with the pulleys set at the top position.  Attach a D-handle to each of the pulleys.  Repetitions are kept in the 10-20 range.This exercise is mainly intended to give the chest one more good pump before calling it a day.  Cable crossovers are similiar to dumbbell flyes in that a slight elbow bend is maintained throughout the entire range of motion of the exercise.  Place one foot in front of the other to maintain balance while keeping chest up and facing forward.  With a D-handle in each hand and arms in stretched position begin to bring arms forward and palms together. Experiement with different height levels when bringing the palms together. You will feel a slightly different feel as you vary the height of the contraction.  Squeeze the chest when bringing the palms together before returning to the out stretched position.  Repeat until desired repetition goal.



* Always remember to control the weight during the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercises.  Keep a slight arc to the lower back, while keeping the chest high and shoulders back during all exercises.  This will minimize shoulder involvement and maximize chest development.

* It is always a good idea to have a partner during chest training to spot each other and assist when needed during each exercise.


Now get to the gym and develop a chest you've always wanted.  Remember to always replenish your muscles with a good protein and carbohydrate shake immediately after your workout.  Adding L-Glutamine to that shake will aid in recovery and speed the healing process of the muscle you just tore down.

Train hard, eat smart.


"Best of luck with your new training program and any questions can be directed though this web site to me and I will do my best to assist you in any way possible."

Sincerely, Jeff Schwartzer


The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.


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