Animal-themed analogies are common in the weight room. They're not arms, they're pythons. Calves grow into baby cows. Killing it in the gym is going "beast mode." But there's one animal comparison that no one wants to hear, and it's that they have a bird chest.
If your upper body is lacking, MusclePharm athlete Osamoje Imoohi is here to help. As Imoohi explains, this is a workout to help you "get rid of that bird chest." It's a lot of reps, a lot of sets, and it's all focused on hypertrophy, or muscle growth.
The volume of this workout might seem intimidating, but heed this trainer's advice and take your pecs from scrawny to brawny.
"The chest is a big muscle," Imoohi explains. "So attacking it from as many angles as possible will help make it big and full." This workout should take 50-70 minutes to complete. Keep your rest time 60 seconds or less.
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Barbell Bench Press
Regarding hand positioning, Imoohi likes to keep his pinkies on the rings of the bar. He takes a deep breath as he unracks, then lowers the bar. He exhales forcefully as he presses the bar back up. He keeps his core tight and his shoulders down throughout each set.
For muscle growth, the key is to balance high weight with high reps.
"I start with a lot of reps and progressively go down to a lower number of reps," explains Imoohi. "However, I also increase the weight to get a good combination of muscular endurance and strength building."
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Start with your elbows bent 90 degrees. Exhale as you press the dumbbells, and at the top, don't let the weights touch. According to Imoohi, "keeping the dumbbells apart keeps constant tension on the chest." Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, taking in air as you do so.
One advantage of using dumbbells rather than a barbell is that each side must work on its own. Over time, this should help correct any muscular imbalances that may have developed. As with the preceding exercise, when the reps go down, the weights go up.
Incline Dumbbell Fly to Chest Press
This move is a little more complex than the preceding moves, but it's worth the effort.
Begin performing flyes on an incline bench. As your hands approach each other at the top, instead of reversing the move, hold the dumbbells over your chest and perform a close-grip press. Squeeze through your chest at the top of the press, then "fly" your arms back down to the sides. That's one rep. Perform the fly and the press in this alternating fashion for the entire set.
There's a lot going on in this movement, so don't worry so much about training heavy. "The goal is to exert control throughout the entire movement," explains Imoohi.
High-to-Low Cable Fly
The cable machine is perfect for targeting all angles of the chest, especially the lower pecs.
"After working the upper and mid parts, it's now time to get after the lower part of your chest," Imoohi says.
You might have heard these called cable cross-overs. Whatever the name, it will help you maximize your pec potential. One pro hack Imoohi offers is flicking the wrists in toward each other at the end of the rep. "It doesn't seem like much, but you'll feel it in your chest."
This classic move is particularly good at developing the lower portion of the pecs.
"It's important when doing dips to not go too low and compromise the shoulder joint," says Imoohi.
So, lower your torso only until your arms reach a 90-degree bend. At the top, stop just short of lockout.
If you have trouble doing dips with your body weight, use a spotter. If using your own body weight is too easy, add plates onto a belt like Imoohi does.
Workouts are like firework shows: They need a grand finale. For this chest session, you're going to do a total of 100 push-ups, which will light your pecs up like the Fourth of July. As Imoohi explains, you don't need to go for all 100 at once.
"Feel free to break them down to 4 sets of 25," he says. "Or do 5 sets of 20, or even 10 sets of 10."