There's one thing every perfectly-proportioned lifter's body must have: that sleek V-taper. Your back and shoulders have plenty to do with it, sure, but your chest matters, too! IFBB Physique pro Stephen Mass has seen his fair share of bodybuilding competitions, and like many pros out there, he knows how to build a chest that stands out from every angle.
Even if you're not planning to step onstage, this workout will help you build mass right where you need it by targeting every angle of your chest. Each pair of exercises targets the chest from a specific angle using a press and fly combination.
Look at it this way: If it can make a guy whose last name is Mass feel the burn, you'd better believe it'll work for you.
Incline Dumbbell Press With Incline Dumbbell Fly
You'll start with an incline superset to focus on the upper chest. Stay in moderate rep range of 8-12 reps per set, building your way up, meaning you're not hitting failure until the last set. After each set of presses, go straight into the flyes.
"What I like to do sometimes on the incline flyes is to stand up so the top of my chest is basically in line with the top of the bench," says Mass. "I kind of hang my head back and I really try to focus right along that upper portion of the chest. That's going to accent that V-taper look that we're going for."
This superset burns like crazy, and you'll really feel the stretch across the upper chest. Working the upper pecs is about creating that shelf near the collarbone, and it can take some practice to get it right.
"I play with the variations," Mass adds. "One that I really like to do is hold [the weight] at about a 45-degree angle with the hands."
You're using dumbbells, not a machine, so you're not going to get consistent resistance all the way to the very top of the movement. Mass uses his 45-degree grip to build a stronger mind-muscle connection and really flex it out at the top. Just really try to focus on every rep, flex at the top, and don't let the dumbbells touch.
Leverage Chest Press With Pec-Deck
The leverage or hammer press offers a safer alternative to the traditional barbell flat bench for intense, high-volume training. Since you don't have to worry about stabilizing a barbell or dropping dumbbells, you can really stretch out on both of these exercises and push your limits.
This superset targets the middle of the chest, working the broader, fan-shaped pec major muscles. You're definitely going to feel it working the larger part of the muscle.
"Because we're supersetting, we're getting a little extra build-up of lactic acid in the muscles," explains Mass. "It's going to burn a bit more, and you're pushing past that barrier of just doing a straight set and resting."
In this superset, you're doing a compound movement first—almost to failure—and again go right into an isolation movement. This overloads the muscles, creating microtears and filling it up with the blood it needs to grow.
Push yourself to failure on the last superset, doing more of a controlled failure on the pec-deck, because it is an isolation movement and you don't want to injure your pecs.
Decline Dumbbell Press With Cable Cross-Over
For the final superset, you're doing decline bench press and high-to-low cable flyes, working on the lower portion of the pec and the insertion point.
When working the lower pecs, form is critical. You must keep your chest up and shoulders retracted to ensure your pecs do the work and not the supporting muscle groups, especially on the cable fly, where it's very tempting to swing your body. Keep your movements slow and controlled, and work up to failure on the final set.
After doing an incline superset, a flat superset, and a decline superset, we've attacked the entire pectoral muscle, leaving a nice, full chest, and accenting that V-taper we're going for. Failure, full range of motion, fatigue—we've given the chest everything it needs to grow, from every angle.
Bonus Set: Lateral Raise Pyramid
Remember, the goal of this workout is to shape that V-taper, so you're going to finish off the chest day with a couple of pyramid sets of lateral raises. The two sets we're doing for shoulders is really 5 sets in one. Perform 10 reps with a light weight, 10 reps with medium, 10 with heavy, back down to medium, back down to light. Go through this up-down pyramid twice, and you're done!
For more chest-building ideas and programs to build your perfect physique, be sure to check out the workout plans on Bodybuilding.com All Access.