Take a good, hard look at your pecs, then use these Arnold-approved tips to improve them.
BY ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
People always seem to mention my chest when discussing my bodybuilding physique. You might say it was my best body part. You could also say that I’m something of an authority on the subject, considering how well-developed my pecs were.
As such, I’d like to discuss improving weak points in your chest. Problem is, many people think overall lack of size is their only weakness, when they should consider other aspects as well. Let’s address some typical pec shortcomings.
If your outer pecs aren’t fully developed, your chest will lack that crucial fullness for which I was famous. My favourite way to hit the outer chest was with dumbbell flyes performed to specifically target this area. First, lower the dumbbells as far as possible without risking injury – go for maximum stretch at the bottom. Then, when returning to the top, stop about three-quarters of the way up to focus all your effort on your outer pecs; coming up to where the dumbbells touch slightly disengages this area. Dips are great for hitting the outer pecs as well. Go as deep as possible and stop three-quarters of the way up.
Also, take as wide a grip as you can (outside of shoulder width) when doing barbell incline and flat-bench presses to target your outer chest. Again, lower the bar all the way to your chest, then stop three-quarters of the way up to the top.
Cable crossovers are especially effective for targeting your inner pecs, since you maintain tension on your muscles when your hands touch. At this point, it’s very important to squeeze your pecs, whether you cross the handles or not; this helps create that distinct line in the middle of your chest.
You can use dumbbell flyes and barbell presses to work the inner pecs as well. With flyes, bring the weights together at the top and squeeze your pecs hard for 2-3 seconds. On presses, simply move your hands to shoulder width or slightly closer, and keep your elbows out and away from your body.
You might think I’m going to suggest doing incline presses and flyes, but there’s much more to it. On inclines, I used to change the angle of the bench every set. I started at 15 degrees, then went up to 25, then 35, then 50 degrees. I often did two, sometimes three, sets at each angle. That way, no part of my upper chest escaped training.
I also firmly believe in incorporating heavy days to develop maximum size in the upper pecs. Once a week, I did extra-heavy inclines, no more than five or six reps per set. To complement that, I worked as many muscle-shocking principles into my routine as I could: forced reps, rest/pauses, drop sets, etc.