By Jason Axe
A good chest is a man’s pride! What if I told you that you could build a good chest without a decline bench? Think about it; a large upper chest gives you a fuller appearance, while and full lower chest can have a sagging appearance. Building a good chest takes time and patience. Only you know your limits, and pushing too hard can lead to the all-too-common rotator cuff injury. You really have to know your body and ask yourself before each set, “Do I really want it?” Genetics aside, a lifter’s strong point/biggest muscle is or was their favorite to work. If you learn to love your chest workout, you will work it with meticulous attention to detail.
I have found great success with starting and ending my workout with incline press. The sharpening and fullness you get from dumbbells you just can’t get from a bench press. Each press should have good range of motion at a variation of rhythms to keep it fresh. The goal of each workout is to get the pump and to later achieve soreness as confirmation that you just killed it!
For me, second to incline press is cable flyes. I’m dumbfounded when I hear people don’t do them on chest day. With this exercise, it’s all about the pinch/crossover that dumbbell flyes can’t give you. Genetics aside, this is the exercise that can fill in that valley that really separates your chest and makes it look more prominent. You really have to become one with the cables and push each set till you feel the burn. I’ll repeat, push until you feel the burn— because that’s the pump and soreness you came for.
At this point, your muscles are fatigued but you are not done. Now you shift to lighter weight so you can complete the set with good form. Good thing you are not using dumbbells because you need no spot, and your arms should be shaking after each set. No matter how much you struggle, you should feel comfort in knowing you can just throw the weight when your muscles give up.
I used to feel embarrassed when I would struggle with weight, but I realized in time that hanging there mid-rep while stalled is how I make gains. Even if you plateau at your current weight, there are still gains to be made and you just have to get creative.
With that in mind, one of my mottos is, “When you do something you love, the quality of your work will show!”
Feel the Burn and Build a Bigger Chest
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press. Kick-start your chest training with the heart of your workout. Has to be heavy weight, low reps for your chest to blow up. 3 sets.
Cable Flye. Start low to high, and then for each set move cable angle up an increment. Crossing arms over is essential in each set and is the point of this exercise. Low/high/mid – 6 sets total.
Flat Dumbbell Chest Press. Lower weight with good form. 3 sets.
Overhead Dumbbell Pull. Great for a pec stretch. 3 sets.
Pec Dec. Going for complete failure. 3 sets.
Machine Incline Chest Press. Going for complete failure. 3 sets.