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Hardcore Workouts for Bigger Chest, Back and Arms

Q: I’m interested in some hardcore workouts for my chest, back and arms. I’m not interested in getting any stronger, just bigger.

A: First, I’m a believer that if you want maximum size, you still need to do training cycles that emphasize strength. Having said that, I think I have just the workouts for you.

The first is an upper-body workout in which each superset alternates a pushing exercise and a pulling exercise. The first superset of the workout uses different repetitions for each set; the reps of each set are listed in the sequence in which they are performed.


A1) 45 degree incline barbell presses, 4/0/1/0 tempo,
4 x 12, 10, 8, 8

Rest 90 seconds

A2) Sternum chinups (mid-supinated grip), 4/0/1/0 tempo, 4 x 12, 10, 8, 8

Rest 90 seconds

B1) Flat-bench DB presses (1 1/4 reps), 4/0/1/0 tempo, 3 x 8-10

Rest 75 seconds

B2) EZ-curl-bar bent-over rows (pronated grip), 3/0/1/1 tempo, 3 x 8-10

Rest 75 seconds

C1) Decline DB flyes, 3/1/1/0 tempo, 3 x 10-12

Rest 60 seconds

C2) Seated rope rows to neck, 3/0/1/1 tempo, 3 x 10-12

Rest 60 seconds


For the flat-bench dumbbell presses, the quarter rep is performed at the initial drive off the chest. As such, you would lower the dumbbells to your chest, press them one quarter of the way up, return them again to the chest, and then press them to extended arms. That constitutes one full repetition.

The rest time is longer in the first superset (A1, A2) because those two exercises are more challenging due to the greater amount of muscle mass involved. For example, the 45 degree incline-bench press is much more challenging than the dumbbell flye; and the sternum chinup with mid-supinated grip is more difficult than the seated rope row to neck.

This next workout is similar in design but emphasizes the biceps and triceps.


A1) EZ-curl-bar pronated-grip Scott curls, 4/0/1/0 tempo, 5 x 10, 10, 8, 8, 8

Rest 90 seconds

A2) Dips, 4/0/1/0 tempo, 5 x 10, 10, 8, 8, 8

Rest 90 seconds

B1) 60 degree incline supinated-grip DB curls, 4/0/1/0 tempo, 4 x 10-12

Rest 75 seconds

B2) Flat-bench EZ-curl-bar triceps extensions, 4/0/1/0 tempo, 4 x 10-12

Rest 75 seconds

C1) Standing low-pulley EZ-curl-bar curls, 3/0/1/0 tempo, 3 x 12-15

Rest 60 seconds

C2) Seated low-pulley rope French presses, 3/0/1/0 tempo, 3 x 12-15

Rest 60 seconds


There is no forearm work in this workout, but if you use thick implements, such as a thick dumbbell for B1 and a thick EZ-curl-bar for B2, you can take care of that issue. In fact, every single trainee I’ve put on thick-bar training has enjoyed increases in forearm development and grip strength.

You may also notice that four of the six exercises are performed seated. Electromyography research has found that seated exercises produce a greater muscle contraction, most likely because the body doesn’t have to divert additional neural drive into stabilizing the body. Also, there is less likelihood of cheating with a seated exercise than with a standing exercise.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit Also, see his ad on page the opposite page.   IM


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