In this four-week chest workout program, you’ll blister and bruise your chest with several familiar moves. However, we want you to slow down and take critical note of your training form. Making small adjustments will mean big changes in how you build your chest muscles and the progress you will see. With certain chest exercises, we’ve zeroed in on particular elements common to training mistakes—flaws that need the most minor of tweaks but could mean the most major of muscular improvements.
Follow this chest workout program, and pay close attention to your workout volume and intensity so you fail at the rep ranges given. In Week 1, this training plan is geared toward your overall chest development. Then, in Weeks 2, 3 and 4, we focus on the middle, lower and upper pecs, respectively. Even though each week focuses on a particular region of the chest muscles, the program still includes exercises that target the entire pectoral muscle group.
Finally, we’ve provided an intensity menu from which you’ll choose certain techniques to take your training to the next level. Follow the instructions carefully, and use one of the intensity-boosters listed only on your last set and when you see this symbol *. You should wait to use the techniques until after you’ve mastered the fine-tuning points laid out in this program. Intensity tactics such as these work best when coupled with stellar form and impeccable technique. Choose just one per workout.
- Drop Sets: After completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar or select lighter dumbbells. Continue repping until you fail, then strip off more weight to complete even more reps.
- Forced Reps: Have a training partner assist you with reps at the end of a set to help you work past the point of momentary muscular failure. Your training partner should help lift the bar with only the force necessary for you to keep moving and get past the sticking point.
- Partial Reps: Do reps over only a partial range of motion—at the top, in the middle or at the bottom—of a movement.
- Rest-Pause: Take brief rest periods during a set of a given exercise to squeeze out more reps. Use a weight you can lift for 2-3 reps, rest up to 20 seconds, then try for another 2-3 reps. Rest again briefly, then try for as many reps as you can handle, and repeat once more.
- Negatives: Resist the downward motion of a very heavy weight. For example, on the bench press, use a weight that’s 15%-25% heavier than you can typically handle, and fight the negative as you slowly lower the bar to your chest. Have your partner assist with the positive portion of the rep.