Restructuring approach to chest

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teafan
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Restructuring approach to chest

Post by teafan » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:25 am

Hey

I've been having troubles with my shoulders which I've largely corrected thanks to Kpj's advice to double up my back work. Anyway, off the back of that, I've decided that I want to restructure/re-approach my "chest" workout.

My goals are hypertrophy and strength

My ideas are to change my focus from Dumbell Bench to Barbell Bench

Currently, I perform:

Flat DB Bench
Incline DB Bench
Flat Flyes
Close Grip Bench (With Barbell)
Rope Pushdowns
Pullovers

What sort of routine would you guys recommend to run on my chest? A phrase Kjp mentioned keeps playing in my mind: "Train your back like a bodybuilder, train your chest like a powerlifter". I guess, i dont know how to put this into place!

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by carlito » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:04 am

Drop the close grip bench for Gullotine press? afaik the wider the grip the more chest involved.

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by stuward » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:02 am

I'll let Kpj expand on his comment, which I agree with, by the way. The Guillotine press is an example of the wrong way to train your chest. The stress is all on your shoulders and it's a rotator cuff tear waiting to happen.

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by robertscott » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:19 am

incline neutral grip dumbell press, flat neutral grip dumbell press, flyes. That'll do it. 3-5 sets of each 8-12 reps.

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by KPj » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:08 pm

That phrase comes from Joe De Franco :D but it's something I believe myself, too. It's actually something i've done for a while without realising it.

On Gullotine Press - Yes stay away from this. It's a nightmare on your shoulders. I experimented with it when training a couple of BB types and they loved it. We used it as a way to burn out the upper chest at the end of the session. I jumped in and tried it, too, and i've actually never felt anything pump up my upper chest as much. However, it's worth repeating - it's a nightmare on the shoulders. It really is a great example of how NOT to bench. From anything that i've read, even in the old days when it was used, it was only ever performed with light weights and high reps, which I assume was lesson learned the hard way.

Anyway, teafan - good to hear your shoulders are getting better!

If you want to get into more BB benching, the first thing that comes to mind is - Can you BB bench without pain? I would try it first, work on technique, see how it feels before even considering it to be an option. It may not be an option but also may be something you need to progress into.

With regards to that statement I quoted from De Franco, it's more with regards to volume and rep range and "approach". You train the back with a tonne of volume from multiple "angles" but with chest, you train it like a PL. Perfect technique, lower rep range, higher weights, and not really thinking about "angles", just thinking about getting a stronger bench press. In that sense, things like flies, pec decs and crossovers don't really enter the mix. Everything is thought about from the perspective of, "will this help my bench press" and not, "will this make my chest bigger".

The slight (i'm sure intended) irony in that quote is that hammering the back with loads of volume will also help you "bench more".

KPj

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by teafan » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:26 pm

Kpj (Spelt correctly this time :blackeye: ):

I managed to knock out a solid bench without any pain a couple of weeks ago... tried today and, again, fine.

Do you think it wise for me to utterly drop inclines, or chuck some in for a "pumper" towards the end? I want to push for size gains but my shoulders have felt so good I am afraid of pushing too far! (Many thanks for that advice by the way - I actually love training my back this much; my progress has been going up and up ever since! I even re-approached pull ups with renewed vigor.)

What sort of program would you have me do for my bench/chest? (I'm sounding like your #1 fan at the moment) No hurry, I only hit my chest once a week on a monday...

Also, I've been chucking in some tricep work recently (having never really "focused" on my arms) and I feel that has helped a bit... wondered what the best excercises I could do to forwards all three goals (size, strength, bench progress)?

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by Stephen Johnson » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:54 pm

Quite frankly, I have no use for the barbell bench press. It mangled my shoulders while providing little growth benefit to my chest. Barbell bench presses lock your hands in the same position throughout the exercise, which is a half assed way to execute the transverse flexion articulation. Dumbbell bench presses are much closer to the mark.

The bottom part of the barbell bench press is dominated by the anterior deltoid. The top part is dominated by the triceps. For many people, failure at the top or bottom of the movement prevent an adequate workout of the chest.

Some people benefit from barbell bench presses. But if you don't, don't feel guilty about it. Do your own thing, not someone else's.

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by KPj » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:30 pm

BB Bench press "used to" mangle my shoulders, too :wink:

In terms of size on the chest, I think it's an individual thing. I think some people will and some people won't get increased mass directly from benching. There is definitely an element of this - You won't find a big bencher with a small chest.

I actually get asked about my chest quite a lot. I'm not a big guy at all (180, 5'7), and my physique is a side effect of how I train and eat (not the goal). However, apparently, my chest stands out (probably just due to my perfect posture :scratch:). My chest is definitely far bigger than it was when I had a "chest day" yet, it gets trained with less than half the volume, I don't do any flies, cross overs, pec decs, whatevers, and I barely go for high reps on anything (maybe excluding push ups). I don't do MUCH DB work, not enough that looks like enough anyway, although I always intend on doing more. I am however, heavier over all than I was back then, and much, much stronger.

What i'm saying is, BB benching has worked well for me. It won't work for others. You need to find what works for "you".

My personal opinion is that BB benching "could" work for everyone but in different ways, excluding those that can't do it due to pain related issues. Some will get more out of it than others, too. I think it largely has an indirect effect on size. The way I look at is, BB bench gives you your "horizontal pressing strength", and DB's give you your size/volume. The way I put it in person is, "get strong with the BB, and go all bodybuilder with DB's".

All you need to do is watch people with a weak bench plough away at DB Benching. I don't mean as a one off, I mean over time - months and even years. I've been in the same gym for years. I've been spotting the same people lifting the same DB's for years. By that time they've tried loads of things - higher reps, lower reps, slower reps, longer rests, shorter rests, incline, decline, and back again. Yet, they still play around with the same DB's, give or take 5lbs depending on what they're doing. You don't see many people use 40-50KG DB's in my gym yet, you see loads of people tirelessly working away at at DB pressing. You also don't see many decent BB bench presses in my gym, either. I don't think it's a coincidence.

What I'm saying is, add 20-40lbs to your BARBELL bench press, and see what happens to your DB benching. It'll magically go up. Probably not straight away and not in drastic jumps, but all of a sudden, they'll start moving. Now, when your bench went up, maybe your chest didn't change, but now all your DB work has went up as well, and now your chest is more than likely looking better/bigger.

I guess what i'm saying is, your BB bench press could pave the way for mass gains by allowing you to get more out of the "bodybuilder stuff".

This has been my experience, which isn't a hell of a lot, remember, but also just makes sense to me.

I'll need a second post for the way I would train your bench lol. Bear with me,

KPj

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by robertscott » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:07 pm

just to echo what KPj said, the advice about strength from barbell work, and size from dumbell work is damn fine advice.

Weirdly, barbell benching used to do nothing for my chest. It was 100% anterior delt. I switched to dumbells for ages then when I went back to barbell, I now get a load of pec stimulation from the bar. I don't know if it was because my chest was just loads weaker than my shoulders or what, but barbell pressing does loads for my chest now.

Also, learn to bench properly. I recently changed to a proper powerlifter set up and benching never bothers my shoulder anymore. I used to not be able to bench with a straight bar for more than 3 weeks at a time, but now I'm benching every week and feelin' fine

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by NickAbe57 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:12 pm

For what its worth, the 5/3/1 program seems to work off the different sets/rep ranges for different ends. Start out with a strength set/rep scheme and then finish the training session with higher rep sets of (for me) mostly DB exercises.

If hypertrophy and strength are your goals for chest, you may want to take a look at that. BTW, the whole program has worked great for me. I'm by no means as strong as most of the posters on this forum, but I am already making significant gains, strength wise and physique, using that routine.

And yet another aside, even though i dont post often--i think others are far more knowledgable and have years and years of experience on me--this forum has been a huge benefit to me. I'd hop around the internet looking for forums of exactly this nature and am so relieved to have found exrx. The encouragement I see, regardless of experience/strength/level of training is a huge inspiration. Such a breath of fresh air compared to some other ones I perused.

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by TimD » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:24 pm

I think NickAbe makes a good point. Yes, there are plenty of routines out there for maximizing muscle size, but the common denominators between all of them are basic compound lifting, heavy, in the strength range, combined with some auxilliary in a higher, quicker rep range designed for hypertrophy, or as most of them say, building up the muscle bellies with a more moderate weight. 5-3-1 looks to be excellent for that. Just look at a picture of Wendler. Stu knows this guy, Doug Hepburn, he was a Canadian star in both OL and PL, and his thing was to work up to do able singles, and back off with sets of 6-8. The guy was huge.
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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by teafan » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:29 am

It's probably just down to the change over from DB to BB but I felt a great connection from my chest on monday... I'm extremely keen to work on my bench now that my shoulders seem to be giving me the all clear!

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by CorlessJohnJ » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:42 am

So here is an even greater question.

What do you do if you like doing DB Chest work but the gyms dbells only goes up to 75 lbs?

I know go to a real gym! Sometimes I wish I was a beginner again cause working out was easier then :/

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stuward
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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by stuward » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:44 am

CorlessJohnJ wrote:So here is an even greater question.

What do you do if you like doing DB Chest work but the gyms dbells only goes up to 75 lbs?

I know go to a real gym! Sometimes I wish I was a beginner again cause working out was easier then :/
Can you do flys with 75#?

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Re: Restructuring approach to chest

Post by Khronos8 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:29 am

Actually John, I've had the same issue. The way I solved it was to use cable handles to hang plates from the heaviest DBs they had. You thread the strap part of the handle through the center hole (or side grip) of the plate you want to use, wrap the flexible strap around the DB grip, then carabiner the strap to itself. The rubber grip of the handle should keep it from sliding out of the plate.

Alternatively, the place I was working out at also had some huge D rings it used for leg raise straps. I was able to use those to clip plates to the DB handle in roughly the same way (had to go through the side grip on the plate, the D ring wouldnt make it to the center hole). As an added bonus you get a bit of instability in the DB as a whole and you have to work harder to stabilize it.

On a related note, one of the things I've noted is that getting strong makes putting together a home gym set up very damn expensive. Almost all the affordable commercial benches out there have a weight limit around 300lbs. Me, plus what I put on the bar is almost always over 600. To say nothing of what I would have to spend on plates to do deadlift or squats.

Currently working out at a gym that has DBs up to 150 :grin: but I havent actually used them yet. My problem now is getting set up with 130+. Once I get them on my thighs I can finish getting in position, but picking both up from the floor is hell on my lower back.

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