Chest is typically the first thing guys want to hit at the gym, yet many go about it all wrong—and for too long. Doing the same exercises over and over, not mixing up set and rep schemes or implementing pauses, and flat-out not pushing the intensity will leave those pecs lagging.
Lony Pizarro and Tobias Young have their own way of training chest, but the Optimum Nutrition athletes both combine high-rep sets, heavy strength sets, and burnout sets in their programs. Keep your form sharp—the shoulders can easily take over the movement if you're not aware of your positioning. Rest times should be short, about 60 seconds unless otherwise noted.
- Retract your shoulder blades on all of these movements, not only to help place emphasis on the chest but also to prevent shoulder injury. Always focus on the full stretch in each movement and a solid contraction, with smooth and continuous motions.
- For the barbell bench press, start by retracting the shoulders and keeping a big, proud chest. This will be your starting position. You are working on strength, so go as heavy as you can while maintaining proper form. The last set will really test your willpower. That will be your 1-rep max for the day, not necessarily a true 1-rep max, since you will be exhausting yourself by this point.
- For the dips, keep your elbows out and lean forward in order to focus on the chest. For the push-ups, place your hands wide to get a better stretch. There are no set numbers on these exercises. That doesn't mean you get to half-ass it. This is where you go all out. Leave everything you've got in the gym. Whatever is left, that's your number, whether it's 5 or 50.
- Before my chest workout, I mix 1 scoop pre-workout and 1 gram HMB with 32 ounces of water. During my workout, I mix 20 grams BCAA with 32 ounces of water. Immediately after my workout, I take 1 gram HMB and mix up a shake containing 32 ounces of water, protein powder, 10 grams creatine, and 10 grams glutamine. An hour after my workout, I eat a meal of 16 ounces of water, 8 ounces of steak, 8 ounces of red potatoes, 2 ounces of almonds, and a large green salad. I also take fish oil.
- The chest is shaped like a fan, so you have to train it at a variety of angles to hit all of the muscle fibers effectively.
- I use a variety of advanced training techniques to shock the chest and prevent a plateau, including dropsets, rep speed, rest-pause, paused reps, and supersets, among others.
- Optimize your recovery by having a meal or protein shake post-workout, when your body will utilize nutrients better than at any other time of the day. I like to refuel with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Isolate protein, 5 grams of creatine, HMB, and a banana.