When I first started working out, I saw the now-famous picture of Arnold standing in front of Joe Weider, hitting his side chest pose. To say I was "inspired" is an enormous understatement. Legend has it that Arnold used to sit a cup of tea on top of his massive upper pecs between sets. True or not, it sure as hell looked like he could.
I've been chasing an Arnold chest for as long as I can remember. When I started out, I did bench press after bench press, hoping to build such a huge, thick chest. In my youth and naiveté, I thought I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
Now I've grown up and learned a few things about chest training. I still love doing the bench press, but it's an old-school exercise that's actually not that effective for chest growth. My workouts now are based around new-school scientific progress. Growth and experience has taught me many other exercises that better stimulate the pectoral muscle fibers.
It's time to get off the bench and start using this new-school workout. Follow these outside-the-box movements to completely change how you look on chest day, so you can start sipping tea from the ledge of your upper chest.
I'll show you how it's done!
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Giant Chest Set
This giant set of reverse-grip incline dumbbell bench presses, neutral-grip dumbbell flyes, and Svend presses will destroy the upper fibers of your chest. Your pecs will feel like it's the first time they've ever been trained.
To do the incline bench press, set the bench at a 45-degree angle and grab moderate-weight dumbbells—something you can lift for 12 reps. Start by holding the dumbbells in a neutral grip (palms facing each other). As you press the dumbbells up, rotate your hands into a reverse grip by twisting the humerus and palms inward as much as possible. Rotating the humerus this way will contract more muscle fibers in your chest.
For the dumbbell flyes, be sure to eliminate any pressing motion from the triceps by maintaining a 15-degree angle in the arms. Your hand position should mimic the normal bench-press grip. Never lose tension on the chest and never stop moving, but never go fast. This is a smooth, controlled fly with constant tension on the pecs.
The last part of this giant set is the Svend press. Grab a single weight plate—it doesn't have to be very heavy—and squeeze it tightly between your hands. Start with the plate at your belly level and begin straightening your arms out in front of you. When your arms are completely straight, pause for a two-second count and squeeze hard.
Machine Midline Flye
One of the other biggest factors in chest development is crossing the midline of the body. Approaching flyes with this in mind, my favorite way to create this tension is using the pec deck. But instead of setting up in the regular manner, I sit sideways on the machine. One of your hands will grip the handle, and the other hand will be on your knee. Keep your elbow up. With your body in this position, the machine becomes a super-effective cable crossover.
Your emphasis for this lift will be to pass your hand across the midline of your body, and squeeze as hard as possible once you pass that line. This exercise can be done with moderate weight.
Perform in a smooth, controlled motion, with the same tempo during concentric and eccentric contractions. Pause for two seconds at maximum contraction.
Moonwalk Cable Crossover
You can actually vary your body placement for cable crossovers to hit your chest from the outer fibers to the inner fibers. I call these moonwalk cable crossovers because we will be walking backward through each set. As you change positions, you'll feel a significant change in where the tension is located in your chest.
Adjust the cable position so they're at nipple height. For the first 12 reps, you'll stand two feet in front of the cable machine. Your arms will stretch out behind you. Bring the cables together by squeezing your chest. Pause for one second with the handles touching each other.
After the first 12 reps, step back into the machine so you're in line with the weight stacks. Do 12 more reps the same way. Finally, take two steps behind the machine so the cables are in front of you. Do 12 more reps.
Let's finalize this bad boy with some work on the underlying muscles on the rib cage to make your chest pop even more. You'll do serratus anterior push-ups with a Siege twist. I know you are all too manly to use a Smith machine regularly, but this is one time you can take advantage of the stability it provides.
The most important aspect in this movement is that your scapula is able to move forward and backward without restriction. The best way to do this is to get into a push-up position with the bar lower than your scapula. This will allow you to add as much weight as safety allows while your scapula is free to move.
The basic scapula push-up is performed with your elbows locked out. All the movement comes from the protraction and retraction of the serratus. Although we're using this exercise to hit your chest, you'll also engage your anterior deltoids a bit.
Concentrate on contracting the serratus and feeling your rib cage expand. When you stand up after these, you should feel your arms rise up and your chest puff out.