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Big, Bad Chest

As I always say, the pros who have the most to offer us regular humans are the ones who have managed to bring up weak bodyparts. For instance, I wouldn’t listen to much Dennis Wolf has to say about shoulder training, as his delts are a gift from God. Chest, on the other hand, wasn’t such a blessed area.

“My chest has been my weak point from day one,” Wolf says. “It probably has a lot to do with my shoulders being so dominant.” Since he’s had to experiment to make his pecs grow, we should all pay attention to some tips the Big Bad Wolf has to offer:

1) Never train chest and shoulders together.

“I only did that once and would never do it again. There’s too much overlap between the pressing movements for chest and shoulders, so whatever comes second in the workout will suffer significantly. I suggest training them about three or four days apart for best results.”

2) Learn to press with the pecs.

“If all you care about is how much weight you can bench-press, you’re probably using almost all front deltoids and triceps. Use less weight, slow down the reps, and learn how to squeeze and contract your chest as you push the weight away from you. If you can’t feel your chest working, it won’t grow.”

3) Prioritize the upper chest.

“Very few of us have upper chests that grow easily—I know I don’t. Because of that, I feel that at least two out of three chest workouts, you should start with dumbbell or barbell incline presses. If your upper chest is really lacking in thickness, you should always do incline presses and flyes first.”

4) Switch your workout around.

“A lot of guys go to the gym every Monday and do the same chest workout they’ve been doing every Monday for years. Then they wonder why their chest always looks the same. Change the exercises, the order you do them in, your rep range and the speed you do your reps on a regular basis. Once a muscle fully adapts to what you’re doing, it stops responding.”

5) Save machines and cables for last.

“It’s fine to incorporate machines like Hammer Strength, as well as cables, into your chest workouts. But because free weights require more balance and coordination and also because they’re more productive at stimulating muscle growth, you should use them first.”

—Ron Harris

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