In 1967, I was a sophomore in
high school. One weekend I
had managed to get 90 miles
away to Milwaukee, Wisconsin
and find a Muscle Builder and
Mr. America Magazine. (In those
days, the Bob Hoffman publication
Strength & Health was the
major muscle magazine around
Madison, Wisconsin and Weider’s mags were hard to find).
Now the Mr. America magazine was especially memorable in
that a picture of Arnold Schwarzengger’s chest was on the cover.
It was a shot of what many still consider the most amazing (massive) chest of all time.
In those days the NABBA Universe was the event, more meaningful than the IFBB Olympia which had just begun in 1965. All the
NABBA bodybuilders (Chet Yorton, John Citrone, Reg Park, Dave
Draper, Rick Wayne, Earl Maynard, Frank Zane, Frank Richard
and Dennis Tinerino et. al.) listed their measurements---Arnold’s
was listed at 58"--- exaggeration or not, no one else even
approached that measure.
Any way you look at it – this was one big Momma of a chest,
my friends! Then or now.
Now then, the Monday after the weekend that I bought the Mr.
America I was showing it by my locker when one of my classmates
came by and decided to take his pen and make a big ink
mark across the cover.
He thought it was funny. Me? I was already scheming my
revenge. I knew that the next day (our last day before summer) on
Tuesday a.m., in math class, the teacher, call him Mr. X, would be
going through each student’s math books to see if there was any
damage. So, that night after school, I found my way to his locker
(we did not even have locks in those days), opened his math book
to about center and wrote in very heavy black marker... "Mr. X’s
mother wears combat boots", not really, it was actually much
worse (well, you get the idea).
The next a.m. in class I watched as this guy handed his math
book to Mr. X, not knowing what was inside. Soon enough Mr. X
paused at the pages and grew furious. Now, do ya’ think this
guy got in any trouble, or not?
Now the moral of this story is two fold. One, you don’t cross me
and not suffer the consequences and two, don’t make any ink
marks on Arnold’s chest, if it’s my magazine.
That was 37 year ago and I still smile when I think about my glorious
comeuppance. Funny thing too, the chest exercises I talk about
herein, are precisely the ones Arnold worked hardest on in 1967!
Now let’s face it, to get a pretty massive and strong development
of the pectoral, deltoids and triceps muscles, it takes quite a
long time of hard work (and it helps if you are only 14-15 and really
hungry as heck... and healthy and you want to be the best
bodybuilder of all time.
But believe it or not... If you’re eating a lot of high quality protein
3-4 times a day (in addition to balanced meals) and get good
sleep, you can pretty much do it with benches, low incline or flat
DB presses and dips.
That is really all you need, assuming you eventually learn how
to use the best form to work these muscles and this should not be
brain science if you read Body Muscle.
Of course, "targeting" any muscle group with intensity, emotion,
form and tension is critical. Size requires that you induce the critical
growth inducing metaphorical burn - congestion - pump.
It is the glorious growth triumvirate. (Strength development on
its own may not require this, but muscle size does.)
Training is specific as we know, the motor units recruited, the
firing order of nerve/muscle and the predominance of muscle fiber
types used and their relationship
to size changes or power
and/or endurance manifestations.
At any rate, gaining chest size
is not just the moving of the
heaviest of weights, (although
that is easily the MOST critical
factor) --whether it be explosively
or done very slowly as some
Bench Incline Dips
THE 3 BEEF KINGS
Gaining pectoral mass and
thickness is a one-to-one relationship
with time, and pretty
much a one-to-one relationship
with barbell flat-bench presses,
incline db. presses and dips too.
Train on free weight bars and
dumbbells, not machines -- not
any machines. In fact, show me
just one guy who trains on, or
will train on, a Bowflex, (and he
can use 1000 mg. a day of
steroids if he wants) and if this
guy ever gets a pro bodybuilding
card, I will donate 1 million
to charity no question asked.
Ok, so if you want a big chest,
then do all 3 exercises right.
Stress your pectorals as much
as you can within the limits of
joint movement and unbending
neurology and kinesiology.
Resting muscle is a bundle of potential resting viscoelastic
energy ready to give off heat, contract, and make mechanical
kinetic energy. That visco-elastic mumbo-jumbo means that muscle
generally contracts better if it is under slight stretch, but not an
over-stretch and definitely, not an under-stretch.
In most situations too, a quick eccentric stretch preceding a
concentric contraction (called a pylometric) also makes a stronger
contraction, but you shouldn’t have to worry about either - as if
you bench and incline right, you do both automatically!
What I mean by this is that in Benchpressing, your chest should
be held high, putting your pectorals on stretch.
I have written how to learn this. It’s 99% why I got very close
to 600-pounds (without any shirt on at all, and at 6’3’ 270-
pounds) that wasn’t such a bad bench back in 1986.Fix your
hips, butt and feet and tighten your low back glute muscles and
"push" yourself against the bar towards your feet, but without
moving your feet or butt!
Your back muscles cause a retraction and
depression of the inferior
angle of the scapulae
as you roll and work
your shoulders under
your body. Your inferior
angles of your shoulder
blades go down, tucked
in and back and
because of scapular
humeral rhythm (your
pec major attaches to
the humerous which
articulates mightily with
the scapulae), you have
an elevation of the chest
wall and this pulls your
pectorals back into a
and rib cage are held
high with a natural low
Your shoulders are
back and down (think of
keeping them in their
sockets) into the bench,
not extended out. You
must maintain this position
while benching and
this is why power-lifters
use a lift-off and you
never protract and lose
position at the top.
When benching and
doing inclines, the bar and db’s do not go perfectly straight up and
down. They should actually move as a slight arc, traveling a bit
upward and backwards–but not a great deal, but diagonally
nonetheless, from the high point (sternum), almost to a point
where it is over your eye levels at the top.
With angle of pull isolation, keep you elbows directed out from
your body, at the bottom position, your upper arms should be at
right angles to your body and the forearm perpendicular to your
This is the exact position to use whether you are benching, or
‘inclining’ with dumbbells.
Dumbbells do provide &range& but that ain’t no be-all and endall.
You still have to concentrate on form and the feel.
I have also written that I feel that you should do flat benches
with a bar 1 workout then do moderate to high inclines with db’s
Now let’s address dips. Anyone who works hard on dips will
build big, thick tri’s, pecs and delts. I don’t like (and never have),
strapping on weights to do full dips. I just don’t advise it, but if you
do go only parallel.
If you are not just specializing on chest, then you may, of
course, fill in your arms work, abdominal work, upper back work
and leg work where you see fit. And, just don’t make any wrong
ink marks on your training log.
BIG CHEST BENCH WORKOUT
Day 1: Monday
1: Barbell bench presses:
2-3 warm-up sets of 10-15 rep, then, 4 - 5 sets,
all with max weights. Lower the weight and do
2 more sets for 10-15 reps.
So, 1 x 12-15, 1x 10-12, 4 sets x 5 - 8 reps
(failure), 2 sets x 10 -15 reps (failure)
2: Full dips: 3-4 sets of as many reps as you can
do with bodyweight
Day 2: (Next chest workout)
I suggest FRI or SAT, 4-5 full days later)
1: Incline barbell presses:
25 - 40 degree, 2-3 warm-up sets of 10-15 reps,
4-5 sets x 6-9 reps with maximum weight –
to failure, 2 sets x 12-16 reps to failure.
2: Flat bench dumbbell presses: 1 x 12 warm-up,
then, 4 x 10-15 reps, using 5-10 lbs. less on each
successive set with fatigue, (60’s x 13, 55’s x
11-13, 50’s x 12-13, 45’s x 13-15). All to failure.
3: Dips: 1-2 sets maximum reps.
Day 3: (Next chest workout)
The coming Wednesday or Thursday.
1: Flat bench dumbbell presses:
2 warm-up sets of 10-15 reps. Use a "pyramid" and
do 5 sets of 7-15 reps with the last set lighter again.
1 set x 14-15 reps
1 set x 10-12 reps
1 set x 8-9 reps
1 set x 6-7 reps
1 set x 12-15 reps
Day 4: (Next chest workout)
Suggested Tuesday or Wednesday. Repeat
workout one and start the whole cycle over again.