When Dymatize-sponsored lifter Mike Hildebrandt announces he's come up with a new chest workout—this one filled with high-volume sets followed by dropsets and 3-second negatives—you might feel a trickle of warm fluid running down your leg. But this one-hour torching can't possibly be that scary. That's a smile and not a grimace on his face, right?
Rest assured Hildebrandt has made this workout with growth—not torture—in mind. All that extra work to really dig deep into the muscle, damage a bunch of tissue, and get ready for some serious growth is for your benefit, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
To gain the full benefit of your gym time, push it with these exercises. That means getting a good stretch in at the eccentric end of each movement, as well as a good contraction at the other end. It means taking it slowly, using the negative to intensify the force on the muscle.
Hildebrandt's Technique Tips
Dumbbell Bench Press
This flat press will target the majority of your chest muscles. Hildebrandt uses dumbbells to make sure both arms work equally, not letting the stronger one compensate for the weaker. When you finish the fourth set, move immediately into the final dropset, using 50 percent of your weight from the first four sets.
Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
The Smith machine focuses your effort on the upper chest. Now you're freed up to direct all your attention to pressing up the weight by recruiting your chest muscles instead of your arms. Get a solid contraction on your upper pecs as you reach the end of the positive portion of the exercise. Drop your weight by 50 percent for the fifth set and go until failure.
Incline Cable Fly
Using a slow tempo, get a good stretch on the eccentric portion of the exercise and a good contraction at the concentric end, as you bring your hands together. This is going to wear you out before you start the plate press. Suck it up and get it done if you want real growth by the end of the workout.
You don't need to use a lot of weight for this one. Hildebrandt is a very strong guy and he uses 10 pounds here. Even at what may sound like a light weight, you're still going to dig deep into your chest muscles for greater growth.
Dumbbell Bench Press with Neutral Grip
Start with your elbows flared at the bottom of the lift. As you push the weights up, bring your elbows together. Once you've reached the peak, press the dumbbells together for a 3-second contraction, one that should reach all the way to your inner pecs.
By now, your chest should be feeling pretty torched. Doing 3-second negatives on top of that will torch you some more. You'll be tempted to move a little faster as you let yourself down. Don't do it! Count slowly in your head and use all 3 seconds to get to the bottom of the dip. Do this with each and every rep.
Focus on getting a good stretch as you spread your arms out and move into the fly. Open your chest up fully during this eccentric portion, then shift your focus to getting a great contraction as you bring together your hands.
Assume the normal push-up starting position, except with your hands close together on top of a medicine ball instead of on the floor. Using a controlled tempo, slowly lower your chest to the medicine ball. As you push up again, squeeze your pecs to make sure you're working your inner chest with each rep.
Do this workout up to two times per week. Give yourself at least 72 hours of rest before repeating it—your chest muscles need time to recover and grow!