Chest Quest for Beginners: Build Perfect Pecs

Three moves that work your muscles better than a bench press.

When you’re walking along a beach, you don’t really care how much you can bench, but rather how much you look like you can bench.

Forget what you know: the bench press isn’t nearly enough for pectoral hypertrophy—a big chest. If that’s all there is to your chest routine, you’re not allowing the pectoral muscles to contract through a full range of motion, due to the fixed grip-width you use with a barbell. For maximum results, you’ll need to add a multi-dimensional component that uses dumbbells and your own body weight.

Once or twice a week, perform the following workout (three supersets) on top of your regular chest program. For each superset, do six to eight reps of the incline dumbbell press, then without resting do a set of dips until failure. Then rest 30 seconds, before doing the T push-ups to failure. Do this two more times.

THE MOVES

1. INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS

With a dumbbell in each hand—palms facing in for a greater range of motion—press up, pushing the dumbbells up in front of your chest. Do six to eight reps, taking four seconds to lower the weight, and one second to lift.

2. DIP

Start with your arms fully extended. Bend your arms, and lean your torso forward as you lower to the bottom of the rep. Pause at the bottom for one second and return to the top by straightening the arms quickly. Do until failure and rest for 30 seconds.

3. T PUSH-UP

This move starts off like a normal push-up, but after each rep, transfer all your weight to one hand and rotate your body, reaching up and behind you with the opposite hand. Your arms should be perpendicular to your body forming a T-shape. Alternate sides, and do until failure. Rest 60 seconds before repeating the superset.

THREE TIPS FOR SOLID PECS

1. A weak upper back will create the appearance of a sunken chest,as if your shoulders are collapsing forward. To show off your chest at its best, make sure you work on strengthening the upper back with rowing exercises. Keep the sets and reps similar to your chest workout for balance.

2. In order to contract the pecs fully, you’ll need to use a full range of motion. Make sure your workout includes dumbbells and cables,which allow you to take your pectorals from a full stretch to a full contraction. This range of motion can’t be performed using a barbell.

3. In a typical chest press, only half the rep targets the chest—the second half targets the triceps. For the best results, do an extra half-repin the bottom portion of each pressing exercise. Lower the dumbbells fully, press up until your arms are bent 90 degrees, lower again completely and then press to finish the rep. So it’s two reps in the bottom half for every full rep. That means your chest will do twice as much work as your triceps.

When you’re walking along a beach, you don’t really care how much you can bench, but rather how much you look like you can bench.

Forget what you know: the bench press isn’t nearly enough for pectoral hypertrophy—a big chest. If that’s all there is to your chest routine, you’re not allowing the pectoral muscles to contract through a full range of motion, due to the fixed grip-width you use with a barbell. For maximum results, you’ll need to add a multi-dimensional component that uses dumbbells and your own body weight. pecs

Once or twice a week, perform the following workout (three supersets) on top of your regular chest program. For each superset, do six to eight reps of the incline dumbbell press, then without resting do a set of dips until failure. Then rest 30 seconds, before doing the T push-ups to failure. Do this two more times.

THE MOVES

press1. INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS

With a dumbbell in each hand—palms facing in for a greater range of motion—press up, pushing the dumbbells up in front of your chest. Do six to eight reps, taking four seconds to lower the weight, and one second to lift.

2. DIP

Start with your arms fully extended. Bend your arms, and lean your torso forward as you lower to the bottom of the rep. Pause at the bottom for one second and return to the top by straightening the arms quickly. Do until failure and rest for 30 seconds.

dips

3. T PUSH-UP

This move starts off like a normal push-up, but after each rep, transfer all your weight to one hand and rotate your body, reaching up and behind you with the opposite hand. Your arms should be perpendicular to your body forming a T-shape. Alternate sides, and do until failure. Rest 60 seconds before repeating the superset.

t_pushupTHREE TIPS FOR SOLID PECS

1. A weak upper back will create the appearance of a sunken chest, as if your shoulders are collapsing forward. To show off your chest at its best, make sure you work on strengthening the upper back with rowing exercises. Keep the sets and reps similar to your chest workout for balance.

2. In order to contract the pecs fully, you’ll need to use a full range of motion. Make sure your workout includes dumbbells and cables, which allow you to take your pectorals from a full stretch to a full contraction. This range of motion can’t be performed using a barbell.

3. In a typical chest press, only half the rep targets the chest—the second half targets the triceps. For the best results, do an extra half-rep in the bottom portion of each pressing exercise. Lower the dumbbells fully, press up until your arms are bent 90 degrees, lower again completely and then press to finish the rep. So it’s two reps in the bottom half for every full rep. That means your chest will do twice as much work as your triceps.