I am a big fan of working out, pretty much all body parts.
There isn’t a workout in my set of workouts that I particularly don’t enjoy, every one brings me that painful sort of pleasure that I love from good gym workout.
ABC’s of working out
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But if I was asked to name one of my workouts that I really enjoy more than the others – the one that I’m particularly happy to see scheduled for that day – it’s the day that I do my workout C, and that is C for Chest.
In the overall ABC7 Workout System, I do my chest workout every five days, in the afternoon or evening.
Resistance training for other body parts is for the afternoons or evenings of other days, with cardio and abs being in the mornings.
C is for Chest
For a chest workout, I usually schedule 7 exercises, each of which is performed to 3 sets, giving 21 sets of exercise per session.
With an additional warm-up set at the start – which is the same exercise I’m going to do as my first work set, but with twice the number of reps and half the weight – the chest workout takes me about 50 minutes of gym time.
Each work-set exercise is performed to 10 reps.
Keep your form
If I can’t mange 10 while keeping proper form, then I drop the weight to continue the set as a drop-set up to the 10 reps. Multiple drops are possible within each set if I’m truly fatigued, but I always get to the 10 before ending the set.
If I achieve the 10 reps without needing to drop, then I will stop at the 10 but put the weight up by the smallest possible increment for the next set.
So, as an example, if I’m doing dumbbell presses on a flat bench, and the first set was with 30kg dumbbells and I did the 10 reps satisfactorily, then the second set is with the 32kg’s. If I don’t complete that second set without having to drop, the third set is also at 32kg.
But if I do complete that middle set, then I increment again to 34kg for the final set.
Finally on this, the first set of any exercise is at the same weight that I last achieved 10 reps without dropping on that exercise from a previous workout.
For variety, I do exercises with free weights, cable and Smith machines, and fixed-path machines.
Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but I generally feel that resistance machines get a ‘poor rap’ from many in the gym; I have a different view and find I can push myself further on machines than with free weights if I’m really keen to isolate as much as possible.
I also feel I can work with confidence on resistances higher on the machine than with free weights, knowing that the only result from a total muscular failure would be a loud crash, not a crushed body part!
Keep it fifty/fifty
I guess that for chest, I am 50% free weights and 50% on machines of some type. I try to work the chest ‘from all the angles’ – it’s a bit of a cliché phrase, but I can’t think of a better term.
I therefore divide my 7 exercises into different groups, most of which have different variants depending on either upping the variety or trying to use available equipment.
1. Press position
I tend to work upper chest first in a press position – either as a barbell press on an incline if I have a spotter, or with dumbbells or a Smith machine.
I sometimes have a one-sided cable press, pushing up from an incline bench with the low pulley attachment.
I’m a bit old fashioned and tend to use the safety stops on the Smith if I do this, it encourages me to press further up the weight scale than without. In any case, I’m looking for an incline angle of around 30 degrees – more than this and the exercise starts to include too much shoulder contribution.
These exercises all involve effort from the triceps too, so to emphasize the chest, I have a chest-isolation exercise next.
2. Upper chest fly
Exercise 2 is upper chest fly – usually with dumbbells on an incline bench, but some of the gyms I use have a wide-stance cable machine, and I like to position an incline bench centrally and, with the low pulley position, use the chest to drive the arms upwards in the famous fly arc until the knuckles meet vertically above my head.
When done properly, which I try to, there is no movement at the elbow – thereby eliminating the tricep contribution – and the movement at the shoulder is the only action – powered in the main by the pectoralis major.
Again, I’m setting the bench at an upward angle of around 30 degrees.
Tomorrow in Part 2 of the article I’ll be continuing with four more exercise methods and tricks I use to get that defined chest.
Connect with Expert Chris Zaremba