Training Plans - Chest Workout
When I started consistently body building in March 2016, my chest was my weakest muscle group. I had very little strength in this area and doing my first bench press was pretty humbling. My body was not conditioned in any way to be strong with chest focused lifts. This muscle group was however the one I was most excited to start training. There's just something about seeing someone knock out killer bench presses and dumbbell presses, it looks cool.
When I first started lifting regularly at the gym, I felt like a newbie and longed to be a seasoned lifter blasting out reps with confidence. I now go into the gym as if it is my second home and more often than not think of it as my version of going to church because it spiritually calms and aligns me. Training the chest is still one of my favorite workout days. I love every exercise in my chest routine and incline presses are hands down my favorite exercise to watch in the mirror. When I have those "big" dumbbells in my paws and I watch my arms go down to my sides and then summon the weight back up into the air... I feel powerful.
My chest is an area of focus because I really want to prepare my body for top surgery. I struggle with body dysphoria in this area but since training and having my chest grow/change, I feel so much better about this area of my body. It causes me less anxiety now because I am able to see a masculine shape developing. In the progress shots above, you can see a v line starting to appear below my collar bone. I couldn't be more grateful for the way my body is responding to my training. I feel blessed and fortunate to be more and more at home in this vessel.
This chest routine is a beast. It hammers the chest muscles until they are completely depleted. This is my one workout where I sometimes struggle to complete the lasts sets because my muscles are so done by the end of the routine. It is extremely effective though. The strength gains that I have made over the past year using this method have been very good. This month marks my one year of consistent training and my chest has grown more than any other muscle group that I train.
TIPS FOR THOSE NEW TO WEIGHTLIFTING
- To find your "Warm Up" weight, perform 12-15 reps of the exercise with ease. If it's too easy, move up and if that rep range is too hard, move down in weight.
- To find your "Working Set" weight, perform 6-8 reps of the exercise. This should feel hard once you get past 6 reps. Anything after 8 reps should be really tough. I train in the 8-10 rep range, but that has me going until I can't lift anymore.
- Focus on doing the exercises with the best form possible. You will know that you are in proper form if you can feel the muscle you are targeting contract. Also, it is important that nothing hurts with a sharp or stabbing pain. A little discomfort is ok, it means you're working. Find the difference between working hard and hurting yourself, avoid the latter. For the chest, focus on getting it as high up as possible by pushing your shoulder blades together on the bench. Focus on squeezing your pec muscles towards the top of the movement.
- Train in good view of a mirror whenever possible, it will help you visualize the mind/muscle connection and it will also help you with proper form.
- Don't get discouraged if you don't understand how to perform an exercise right away. Look up videos on how to do the movement (I have links to each), don't be scared to ask someone experienced for help, or train with a friend that is more experienced. Seasoned lifters love to share tips, tricks, and know how.
- Training with a buddy on chest day is great because you can have someone to spot you if you want to try to hit personal records with heavy weights.
TIPS FOR SEASONED LIFTERS
- This routine is part of a body part split routine. If you prefer a total body workout, grab a superset or two from this routine and work it in to your total body workout.
- I train calves with this workout, feel free to add in an ab routine or calf routine at the end of this shoulder session for a nice finisher to your workout.
- If you want to get a nice pump on at the end of your workout, take the incline dumbbell fly or the flat dumbbell fly and perform them as drop sets at the end of the workout.
CHEST TRAINING PLAN
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: Warm Up Weight x 2 sets x 12-15 reps
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: Heavy Weight x 1 set x 4 reps
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: 1 Rep Max x 1 set x 1 rep
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: Working Weight x 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: Working Weight x 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Flat Barbell Bench Press: Working Weight x 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Fly: Working Weight x 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Flat Dumbbell Bench Press: Working Weight x 3 sets x 6-8 reps
- Flat Dumbbell Fly: Working Weight x 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Advanced add ons: Chest Fly Machine, Cable Fly, Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press, Pullover, Ab Workout, and/or Calf Workout
How to perform in this routine...
- Perform all sets #1 - #4
- Perform all sets from #5
- Perform all sets from #6
- Perform all sets from #7
- Perform 1 set from #8 followed by one set from #9 until all 3 sets of each are done (6 total)
- Perform any additional exercises
LINKS ON HOW TO DO EACH MOVEMENT
- Incline Barbell Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Flat Barbell Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Fly
- Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
- Flat Dumbbell Fly
- Chest Fly Machine
- Cable Fly
- Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
- Ab Workout
- Calf Workout
This routine is for intermediate lifters and takes about 1 hour to complete (without the ab or calf workout and any add ons). It is extremely effective for growing the chest and giving it a full appearance with definition. I have found the Incline Barbell Bench Press to be the most effective compound movement for building my chest. I am also a huge believer in doing very slow and wide fly movements. These feel great after compound bench presses because they really stretch your muscles out. Try out some or all of the routine for your next chest day!
*I am not a certified personal trainer. My experience is limited to myself. If you are new to lifting, please seek out resources online and the help of a trainer or experienced friend before embarking on a new fitness regime.
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