What lags behind is your chest? Work some extra, that’s the best!

What lags behind is your chest? Work some extra, that’s the best!

28-05-2015
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Okay, that must have hurt. Don’t be nervous, rhymes are over. Pectoralis muscles are the most problematic muscles for many. But problems are there to be solved – and this article will help in that.

Is that a real problem?

First of all, having a seemingly underdeveloped chest does not necessarily mean that you need to work more on it. Slow development might have other causes than genetics, and you should not resign yourself to having hard-to-grow pecs. What other possible causes are there? There quite a few of them:

  • Inappropriate technique
  • Inappropriate workout volume (that is load per workout session)
  • Too frequent or too infrequent workouts
  • Using too heavy weights that leads to rep counts too low (so that you don’t reach the best muscle building load range, and even the technique can be compromised.)
  • Inappropriate diet
  • Insufficient workout history – meaning don’t start analyzing the slow developing areas of your physique after just two months of training as you would not and cannot really see that. You need at least half a year to clearly see if an area has problems in developing, and even then you need to consider the possible causes listed above.

If you managed to rule out all of them, and you do everything by the book, and you still have problems developing your pecs, only then you can say that this muscle group is your weakest link.

Less can be more – and vice versa?

At this point comes the brainstorming about what to do in a different way. Increasing the number of pecs day to 2 per week? Or even more? Or one can be enough but it should be a real killer? (And then still do some more?)

It is bad news, but there is only one sure thing about this. In case your chest languishes, there is one thing that you must stop doing: keeping up the work you did. Your body has sent you a clear indication that either your workout volume or workout method (or both) are inadequate.

On the other hand, you can do something about it: start doing something else, try different things, experiment bravely! This means that you don’t just raise your reps count, or swap to doing series instead of pyramids, etc., but introduce fundamental changes to your workouts! This is a hard decision (we have covered this topic here in detail), but it is a choice to make!

We show you a kind of solution that works primarily for those who used to work on their pecs once a week. It is a pretty intense program for them, but if the basic rules are observed, no overtraining will occur.

Two sessions a week is not necessarily too many!

And then let’s carry on with the sentence to make it complete: if you know where to limit the volume and intensity! A two pecs sessions per week program is really hard by itself. But if you bombard your body with forced reps, drop sets or other intensity increasing techniques, then you are sure to overtrain yourself.

Let’s see what weekly schedule can support two pecs session a week so that you don’t raise the workout intensity of other areas, and also observe the assisting muscles used during a pecs session:

Weekly workout routine

Workout day Muscle group(s)
Monday Pecs and triceps
Tuesday Legs
Wednesday Rest
Thursday Chest and shoulders
Friday Back and biceps
Saturday & Sunday Rest

As you can see, pecs workouts always come after a resting day (or two). Besides that training the assisting muscles are included in the chest days, because it provides them more time to regenerate. So you’ll have 2 pure press days, and these muscles can relax for the rest of the week, only your pectoralis muscles will have two intense workout sessions per week.

Death to the pecs – let’s see those two workout days!

Monday:

Exercise Sets Reps
Inclined bench press 4 12, 10, 8, 6*
Flyes on a horizontal bench 4 12, 12, 12, 12
Cable flyes on an inclined bench 3 15, 15, 15
Push-up dips between benches 2 until failure

*: Increase the load in a pyramidal style.

Triceps: do your usual triceps workout, but since the pecs session must have exhausted them already, try to stick to isolation exercises, and keep close-grip presses and dips at minimum reps.

Thursday:

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench press 4 12, 10, 8, 6*
Decline press on a Smith machine 3 12, 8, 6*
Inclined dumbbell press 3 12, 12, 12
Dips 3 until failure
Flyes on a Pec-Deck machine 2 10, 10

*: Increase the load in a pyramidal style.

Shoulders: Lower the volume of exercises that put load on front deltoids as the presses have their impact on them as well. Apart from overhead presses you should only do lateral raises to work the side and rear delts!

On the first day we focus on the upper section of the pectoralis muscles (as far as it can be isolated at all). On your fourth workout day (that is the second chest day) we generally stick to the horizontal bench, but there is a declined bench exercise included too in order to increase press strength, as relatively short range of motion allows for heavier weights.

Both workouts end with two isolation exercises that will fill your pecs with blood to the max. (Please note that the major benefit of push-up dips between benches is that you can lower your body below the level of the benches, so your muscles can be elongated to the maximum.) Of course there is a “useful” function to them as well, since the extra amount of blood flowing to the muscles carry extra amounts of nutrients and oxygen, so it can also increase your workout performance and mass gain.

The first day has less press exercises included, so your triceps are less exhausted than on the second pecs day. That’s why your triceps workout should be scheduled on this first workout day. On the second chest day of the week the three presses will kill your triceps, so you might want to end the day with a shoulder workout, even though the presses had their impact on the front delts too, so a lighter workout could be enough for that area.

There is another reason why the shoulders should not be killed off by this program: it would surely lead to overtraining. This interval targets your pectoralis muscles – don’t try to finish off everything at once! Focus on one priority at a time! Do not forget that it is your chest you have problems with. If you have problems with every area, then this program will not provide you with the solution – it is likely that your diet will be the key.

A few tips:

Do not forget that you expose your chest to a pretty high strain. Be kind to yourself, and:

  • Do not do forced reps regularly (that is more than once a week), and when you include forced reps in your workout, limit that one exercise and to 2 sets at maximum.
  • Do not do drop sets, rest-pause reps, and any other such goodies while following this program.

Do not forget that gaining mass requires workout stimuli, but the chance to regenerate is just as important too. In case the muscles do not get that, it would be foolish of them to grow. In the hope that it is needless to say: you should not even start without a proper diet.

Last note: this is NOT a beginner’s program! It is an intermittent 6-week program even for experienced athletes, and then they should get back to the original workout program. If you follow these rules, then you have a good chance to end the stagnant period, and get back to the path to development!

What are you waiting for? Trying it won’t hurt, right?



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