Train Like A Beast: Physique Competitor Chest Workout
Name: Brandan Fokken
From: Sioux Falls, SD
Sponsors: Team Bodybuilding.com; Beast Sports Athlete
The almighty chest workout: It's what separates the men from the boys—at least in high school. As an athlete growing up, it sometimes felt like my bench numbers were directly tied to my standing in the social hierarchy.
Not to be outdone by my friends, 14-year-old me got under a barbell for the first time at a friend's house. I couldn't even lift 100 pounds, an embarrassing change from my usually stellar athletic accomplishments. I just couldn't get that weight off my chest. For a long time after that pathetic attempt, the other kids at school pointed out how weak I was and made fun of me on the regular.
I decided that I was going to take control of the situation and better myself. I've always had aspirations to be big and strong, and I'd always looked up to people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and even Superman. I hoped that someday, I would be big and strong like them. So I found some iron and got started.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with the number. I went as heavy as I could go every workout. My strength peaked when I was about 28. I had a max bench of 430 for 2 reps—something I never thought I would see.
Chasing The Pump
As I got older, I started lifting smarter due to a lot of previous injuries. I learned that it's not always about power, but trying to develop a competitive physique.
When I stopped exclusively lifting heavy, I started experimenting with various techniques, set and rep variations, incorporating various angles, and using other tools to get ripped.
Since then, I've tried so many training variations that I can't even keep count. In time, I found what works for me. I was blessed with good genetics, but I didn't build a competitive physique overnight. It took a lot of hard work and years to get to where I am today.
Although I do still go heavy periodically, I now focus on volume. I like to get a feel of the weight, hit my muscles from as many angles as I can, and get a good pump when I lift.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger said his chest didn't start developing to his best levels until he changed up his set and rep patterns and incorporated more angles in his lifting protocol.
Beast Chest Workout
This is a workout I recently did with three of my competitor clients. It's a great example of a high-volume workout that will build a great physique.
By the time you get to the last exercise, your chest, shoulders, and arms will be pumped to the max. Try it out and see for yourself!
Push hard, but don't forget to have fun!
- Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
6 ramp sets of 20, 20, 15, 15, 15, 10 reps
- Smith Machine Incline Bench Press (Close Grip)
3 sets of 20, 15, 15 reps
- Standing Cable Flyes
5 ramp sets of 20, 15, 15, 15, 10 reps
- Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
4 ramp sets of 20, 15, 15, 15 reps
- Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of 20, 15, 15 reps
- Incline Hammer Press (Single-arm)
4 ramp sets of 15, 15, 10, 10 reps
Turn body so you are pressing weight across chest.
- Hammer Strength Press
3 sets of 15 reps
- Standing Cable Crossover
3 ramp sets of 15, 15, 10 reps
- Machine Bench Press
4 ramp sets of 20, 15, 15, 15 reps
4 sets of 10 reps
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I definitely don't have these guys' experience, but I feel like there's a lot of redundancy in their routine. I feel I would also take out a few of those machine exercises to get full RoM with free weights... or maybe I'm the one doing it wrong? Any explanation would be great :)
You have to realize that this isn't what I do EVERY time I do chest. Im always doing different things. This specific workout was done with 3 other people in a busy gym with the equipment available. Do I use free weights? sure...Do I change up my sets and reps? Yes..Do I Lift specifically heavy for an entire workout with low reps? Yes... But not like I used to. Im always trying different things and challenging myself. I can tell you that the three guys In the picture above who all are built different, usually train chest different, and represent different competing classes all worked to failure by the end. This workout may be for you it may not, but you wont know unless you try. If you know your body you can always change things up to. Throw in some DBs, some dips, etc. Get creative and have fun with it:)
What is a ramp set?.. I try and not use barbells because i had a rotator cuff strain 6 months ago and although i still train the barbell restricts my movement and causes pain.. should find alternatives
Awesome workout. I am rather new with working on my chest and doing 6 sets of include bench seems insane but I guess I have to work up to it.
My question is, my gym only has smith type bench press available for me which really works because of how tall and how long my arms are, but am I missing anything by not doing a normal bench?
Heres a great article for you:)
A dumbbell and a barbell bench will definitely provide more advantages than a smith machine. Your stability and control with free weights needs to be much higher. When you bench, the movement pattern is actually a slight arc, whereas a smith machine only moves in a straight line. All of that being said, can you get results from a smith machine? Absolutely. I think you would be better off with a variety of presses though. If your gym doesn't have a barbell set-up, I would definitely use dumbbell applications. They will provide the missing stabilizer control that you may be looking for. I find that dumbbells also put a lot less stress on my delts too because of the freedom of motion. They are my preference. Do it up!
Great article, Brandan. Ive always had trouble feeling my chest working with my shoulder problems. Can't wait to give this a try with the volume and focusing more on feeling the chest pump!
I hear that ALL the time....Let me know how it goes and if I can give any more examples let me know. I have another chest variation on my 360 plan here on Bodybuilding.com :)
Keep up the hard work!
First flies that I do I basically stand more upright and back arched and pull straight down in front of me and squeeze with my hand about touching my body right below my belly button...
The Cross overs I lean forward slightly and pull the cable at chest level and in front of me and squeeze when my hands touch...or I may cross them in front of one another.
I hope that helps?
Thank you for the information. One question if you don't mind. On the Incline Hammer Press (Single-arm) where you are going across the chest, I am not at the gym, but in just doing the motion it seemed excellent, I am assuming the ROM is minimal due to the positioning, but the amount of muscle use going across chest had me thinking of trying that as a variant on other hammer strength pressing movements. Besides the obvious (burn and pump), when you are doing this modification, what are you looking for? What I am wondering is what the difference could be vice doing the exercise normally on the device. About the only thing I could guess at is less shoulder and tricep involvement. Thanks again for your time.
For me I find a lot of people have a harder time targeting and really "feeling" their upper chest. When I do this I press across my body in an upward motion and squeeze at the top. Ill usually have my fingers pressing into the pec I am working to feel the full contraction of the muscle and to make sure Im hitting exactly where I want to. For me it targets that area FAR better than if I were doing it straight on and I feel it much more. I do think it takes the tris out of it too a bit and I don't feel it in my tris but always in the chest and shoulder.
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