Every gym that I have ever trained at consistently always had two things in common. The first was that old men loved to get naked in the locker room and walk around and talk to everybody like it was no big deal. I guess humility leaves you at a certain age.
The second thing was that chest day almost always seemed like it was on Monday for every guy within a 30-mile radius. Good luck getting a bench as there was always a significant wait on this day of the week.
If you could narrow down strength training to one word, it would probably be “bench”. Think about it. If you ask your buddy what he is working out for the day, he might tell you bis and tris, arms, legs, back, shoulders, or something similar. If that same person is training chest that day and you ask him what he is working on, he’ll tell you bench. Not chest. He’ll say bench.
It’s always the same. When someone is talking to you about weight lifting or you just meet someone that obviously works out, one of the very first questions you ask is how much they bench.
In the fitness world, it doesn’t matter how much money you make or what type of car you drive. It is all about how much weight you can move. A solid chest is going to garner you respect in this world more than the fancy clothes and cars.
This is why you need a strong chest workout routine that will get you results. It is fine if you aren’t benching several hundreds of pounds. You can still have a massive chest that will gain you second and third looks when you take your shirt off at the beach.
Below is a chest workout that has been passed down from generation to generation. Now it is my duty to pass it on to others. Follow the order of these chest exercises as everything is in place for a reason. And if you would like to gain as much muscle as possible from this workout, do it twice a week but no more than that.
Research shows that you can add more muscle if training the same muscle group twice a week, but more than that, you aren’t doing yourselves any favors. This isn’t bro-science either. These are real scientists and researchers weighing in on gaining the most muscle mass.
And as always, be sure your protein intake is on the high side otherwise you are costing yourself muscle. Enjoy and let me know the results you get!
Flat Barbell Bench Press
As previously pointed out, the bench press is the ultimate of all strength training exercises in people’s minds. It is a compound exercise and one that you will want to tackle first thing in your workout while you are still fresh. Start off with low weight and pyramid up from there.
This might mean beginning with just the Olympic bar (45 pounds) for ten reps or having a 45 pound plate on each side. It is a good warmup so you don’t strain anything by trying to lift too heavy right away.
From there, add on additional weight. It is okay if you can’t get ten reps. When you keep on adding weight on to the bar, those last couple sets may only be a couple of reps. The more weight you add, the longer you will need between sets to recuperate. As an example of the pyramid bench routine, here is what I do.
10 reps at 135 pounds
10 reps at 225 pounds
8 reps at 245 pounds
6 reps at 275 pounds
3 reps at 315 pounds
1 rep at 335 pounds (if I feel I have a good spotter because my arms are spent by this point)
High Cable Flyes
Cable flyes, whether high or low, is not about how much weight you are moving. It is all about movement and feeling the muscles in your chest being worked. You do not need to go heavy at all for these flyes otherwise you will probably sacrifice range of motion for ego lifting.
Choose enough weight on the stack to give you good resistance without tearing your arm out of the socket. Complete three to four sets at 10 to 12 reps apiece. By doing cable flyes as the second chest exercise, you are allowing your arms to rehab quickly from the heavy bench press that you just completed.
To perform this exercise, just lay down on the bench normally with your head a bit higher than it would usually be on the padding. You might have seen guys doing chest pullovers while pressing their back at an angle on the bench, but there really isn’t a need for it.
Just lay down like normal and pyramid up once again during your sets. If you are sacrificing the correct movement just to do additional weight, you could be hurting yourself. I like to do four to five sets with the reps ranging from ten to five as the weight increases.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
The incline bench press trains the upper chest muscles more than the flat bench alone. You might have heard that incline is the superior chest workout to all other bench positions, but it is all about which muscles you are wanting to train more at the moment. Don’t believe the hype that incline is any better than flat.
Since there is an incline on the bench and most of your shoulder muscles will be put to use as well as your chest, you probably won’t be lifting nearly as much weight as you do on the flat bench. I’d say my incline barbell bench press routine is usually about 50 pounds lighter than my flat bench and is awfully tough on my shoulders.
If you have the same problem I do, use dumbbells for the incline press instead. It allows me to protect my shoulders and move around pain-free afterward. Once again, pyramid up and do four to five sets ranging from 10 reps to 3 reps.
I have a couple of friends that have suffered through a torn pec in the last few years from benching. They both have turned to mostly dumbbell flyes to keep thick chest muscles and have turned their back on lifting heavy on bench press anymore. They all still look very good.
Remember to keep your arms bent while doing the flyes as it is all about the right movement. Just imagine that you are hugging a tree and keep your form as perfect as can be. You do not have to go super heavy to see results with dumbbell flyes.
Flyes work all of your chest muscles and especially the sternal fibers that are attached to the sternum so you can get that chiseled look. Do three sets at ten reps to get your chest muscles firing away.
As this is the last exercise for your chest workout, it is nice to have it be a bodyweight movement that is providing the resistance. You can make it as easy as you want (think of knee pushups) or as difficult as you want (feet up on the bench). It all depends on what you have left to give. Do three sets of how many reps you can manage. These pushups are the last thing between you and a protein shake, so go all out.