FINE-TUNE YOUR CHEST IN FOUR WEEKS
With minor tweaks and subtle changes to your exercise form, you can be sure to finish your chest training on a high note.
Show up early for a symphony orchestra concert that features the most advanced performers and you know what you’ll hear? Discord. With instruments in hand, even musicians who are highly talented must tweak, tighten and tune until they finally reach harmony. What clattered like a third-grade Christmas recital now echoes as if heaven opened a window. What made the difference?
Rather than change instruments or reread the Orchestra for Dummies manual, they did what many of us need to do in our own workouts. They took what was familiar and made subtle yet crucial adjustments to produce the expected and desired result. Think about your training: When was the last time you listened to your body and fine-tuned your form? Been a while? Then take your seat—the curtain is about to go up on chest training.
KEY ON CHEST
In this four-week program, you’ll blister and bruise your pecs 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 your progress. Within certain 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 the program, paying close attention to 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, the program still includes exercises that target all areas.
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 *. However, 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.
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.
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.
Do reps over only a partial range of motion—at the top, in the middle or at the bottom —of a movement.
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.
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.