If you want pecs that stand out like a Roman breastplate, you need to train like Muscle Beach Nutrition-sponsored athlete Gavin Matthews. As he explains, the M.O. of this chest workout is to start off getting a nice stretch, then build up in weight to work a little bit on strength, then finish off with a nice pump in the chest.
"We're going to finalize this workout by breaking our muscle down," explains Matthews. "And finish off by pumping as much blood in the chest as possible."
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Although pull-overs can also work your lats, this variation keeps all the focus on the chest. As you're pulling the weight over, imagine squeezing and pressing it away from you. It may take some practice, but this will keep the work in the front of your body. You don't feel it as much in your lats—but this is a chest workout, not a back workout.
Feel that contraction at the top. Hold it as long as possible as you extend your arms back. Just don't let your arms go any farther than your ears.
"You want to really focus on squeezing your chest and contracting," says Matthews. "If you go too far, you're going to activate your lats, and that's what we don't want to do."
If you have to, slow down or reduce the weight until you feel a complete contraction in your chest throughout the pull-over.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Use the first set as a warm-up so you don't overdo it. Save the heavier weight for those next three sets. A benefit to using dumbbells instead of a bar on this movement is it allows you to go a little bit lower, stretching the muscle between each contraction.
"This really activates the chest," explains Matthews.
Incline Dumbbell Fly
You'll be going lighter with the weight, but all the better to get a nice deep stretch on every rep. Resist the temptation to immediately add extra weight on every set. As Matthews explains, increase the weight only as long as you're landing in that 15-20 rep range in each set.
The incline fly works the upper portion of the chest as well as the front delt. If you're feeling it too much in your biceps, rotate your hands inward or outward, depending on which way lets you feel it the most in your chest.
Iso-Lateral Dumbbell Press
Another benefit of using dumbbells is you can work each side independently. For this exercise, you'll press both dumbbells, then hold one arm up while the other one comes down, rotating your hands as you lower the weight so you bring the top of the dumbbell to your nipple line right before you press back up.
You can go a little bit heavier as long as you still complete 15-20 reps. "Pick the weight that's appropriate for you," urges Matthews.
Doing this exercise one arm at a time also will enlist your core stabilizers, so go nice and slow with this move. Maintain perfect form.
Decline Cable Fly
Get ready for the pec pump of your life! Grab the cables with each arm and focus on moving those weights only by flexing your chest. As Matthews explains, it's almost the same motion as when you're flexing in the mirror to "show off what you've earned."
Don't go too heavy with the decline fly. Choose a weight that's appropriate so you can make sure it's your chest moving the weight, not your arms and shoulders.
"This is not an exercise where you want to move the whole stack," says Matthews. "Pick a weight that you can just contract the muscle to move."
Keep your chest up and don't overextend at the shoulder joints, which could saddle you with a shoulder or even a biceps injury.
This workout starts with incline, works down to flat bench, and ends with decline, hitting the entire chest, front delts, and a little bit of triceps.
"By the end of the workout, you should feel a great pump," says Matthews. "You should be completely exhausted and not really able to flex your pecs at all."
Now that you're pumped up and feeling great with endorphins flowing, you and your pecs are ready to lord over Muscle Beach. If you're ready to transform more than just your pecs, be sure to check out "Eating for Aesthetics" so you can fuel your body for muscle-building success.