If you want to construct a better chest, you need to look beyond the bench press. Steve Cook, owner of one of the best physiques in the biz, will show you how he builds without the bench.
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Most people think that the flat bench press is the ultimate exercise for chest building—that no chest-day workout is complete without it. Although the bench press is a fantastic movement, it’s actually much better for building strength than muscle mass. There just isn’t enough chest isolation to make the bench press the best choice for pec hypertrophy.
So, you’re not going to do any flat bench pressing in this workout. Instead, you’re going to pre-exhaust your chest with some pec-isolation sets before moving into exercises that recruit other muscles. Finally, you’ll hit a blood-pumping circuit that will set your muscle fibers on fire.
This workout isn’t about the weight; it’s about forcing a lot of blood into your pecs so they can grow. Check your ego at the door.
If you’re ready to build a bigger, better-looking chest, I’m ready to teach you how. Let’s go get our swole on!
| Incline Cable Fly |
The reason we’re doing this exercise first is to isolate and annihilate the pecs. Align the bench so that when you pull the cables, your shoulders, elbows, and wrists all move at the same angle.
Keep your hands in a supinated position to hit your upper chest a little more, and try not to let your elbows move. Keep your weight in your feet and your butt and upper back on the pad.
Increase the weight each set and do every rep. Your chest will be on fire!
| Smith Machine Incline Bench Press |
We’re going to use a little tempo on this lift. Lower the weight for four seconds, then explode up once the bar touches your chest. Use a slightly closer grip than what you would use on a normal bench press.
Because we’re pressing, the anterior delts will come in to help your chest. But because we prefatigued the pecs doing the first exercise, they’ll exhaust long before your delts do.
As it starts getting tougher, keep your feet on the ground and press your heels into the floor. Don’t let your feet or hips move.
Increase weight on each set. When you’ve finished the last rep on the final set, remove much of the weight and do a dropset. I like to take a wide grip for 5-7 reps, a regular grip for 5-7 reps, and a close grip for 5-7 reps. This technique helps to take the set way past failure and hits your chest from multiple angles.
| Isolateral Dumbbell Press |
I like to throw in unilateral training because most people have a dominant arm that can take over for the weaker side. When you train one side at a time, you can be positive that each side is doing the same amount of work. For this movement, keep your left arm at a 90-degree angle as you’re right arm works. Alternate which arm works first each set, and increase the weight each set.
Because we’re working one arm at a time and holding tension in the nonworking arm, we’re effectively doubling our time under tension, which is excellent for hypertrophy.
| Triset: Chest Dip, Landmine Press, and Decline Push-Up |
The final portion of this workout is a triset of chest dips, landmine press, and decline push-ups. The exercises will work that lower, outer chest and will force a lot of blood into the muscles. And because you’ll be doing these movements circuit-style, you’re heart rate will be elevated.
For a more chest-dominant dip, lean forward and keep your hips back and high. Your chest should be about parallel to the floor. Dip below 90 degrees, push up, and then stop just before you lock out to keep tension on the muscle. Each set, try to do more reps than you did the previous one.
When doing the landmine press, wrap both hands around the bar, bring the bar down to the top of your chest, and press up. Trust me; you don’t need to use a lot of weight. Working for an entire minute is much tougher than you’d think.
The push-ups may seem foreign, but you’ll figure out the movement pattern as you go along. Keep your butt high. Get as many reps as you can. When you reach failure, move to a regular push-up.
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