• The Chest Story, Part II

    by Puma

    Part one of this this article exploded as number 1 article in our statistics in no time. It shocked even us. Now more aspects of multi angle chest building.

    In first part HERE you learned how to pick your main strength exercise for building mighty pectoralis. So you gave it a time, mastered the lift and learned by your own trial and error every possible pro and con. Your chest is a lot of bigger, and muscle deficits are quite visible. That is the moment where you must add additional exercise. Bodybuilding is a game of symmetry and aesthetic. If something is disturbing your astonishing presence – you must correct it.

    But keep in mind. If one exercise still fits you – don’t make a mistake! Do not add anything – it will worsen the effect. Continue progressing solely on one exercise till the real need will arise. Some of you [rare lucky ones] are naturally gifted with great chest potential – such persons can stick to one exercise for whole life.

    In this part we will continue the path you have chosen last time. We made clear choices – dip, bench press with leg drive, incline press with possibility of leg drive. Any choice gave you superiority in one aspect of chest, normality in other and lack in the last one. As you figured adding another exercise need to be correlated with primary exercise choice. Movement nr 2 is addition to make chest better in bodybuilding terms, so it must give you what first movement did not! Cloning forbidden! Again, add second only if yours chest is big enough to be visible lacking shape! Lacking mass is not “shape lack” its mass lack – in that case – eat more, train better using tools you’ve got to master cause no one gonna make it for you.

    We talked about one group of “lucky bastards”, we must state another group. Those with superior CNS recovery, who can hammer compound movements all training long, set by set. For them the solution is simple – dip + incline press + bench press. That’s all, goodbye, you can stop reading now because you won. Most of naturals can combine those heavy lifts at once only for phase or two, than if overused will jump straight into plateau and soon overtraining.

    This article is for the rest of the majority “unlucky” human beings.

    Dip Path

    Dips built marvelous pectoralis major sternal head. Visually very long, with great deep edge from sternum up to shoulder. From this point of view, the guys which have chosen other paths can be envy. Another bonus is the greatest pectoralis minor development. No other exercise can make it better.

    But standing in front of the mirror you see your lacks – the more you look up, the less the muscle mass. Look at your clavicle head and spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.
    In this case we have got two good quality choices which will supplement your development. It’s incline press or DB incline press.

    Range of the incline is varied. In case of a dip succession it is something between low incline 10 degrees up to high incline 45 degrees bench. The only judge is your body. Find the angle that will give you supreme mind-muscle connection to clavicle head over shoulders mind-muscle connection. Those muscles will always work together, so we are looking for the sweet spot, not elimination.

    But this time we will stick to another appliance of force. Only two exercises in routine do not mean boredom – quite opposite. Whatever you pick – use deadstart variation. As name suggest you start the exercise with the barbell on your chest, not up on straight arms. That makes a world of difference. That also comes with a lower starting weights – circa 25% less. But the final price is worth it. In old days, using deadstart was called chest blasting. Speed of meat adding progress is really “blasting”. Additional bonus is that progress in such technique is transferable to strength gains in main exercise. Of course, the lower incline the better, but don’t get yourself fooled. You are bodybuilder, mass first, and strength as a second on this one. Transfer will be slower in high incline, but it will still exist.

    Incline bench press is done without leg drive – don’t forget about it. Do yourself a favor, and do not use any kinky bodybuilding extra mind-muscle seeking technique with these exercise as a second. Weight is still too big and angle of attack [especially in high incline] is not in favor of any crazy things – shoulder injury warning. Stick with safe hand spacing – preferably the same as you would do with strength bench press. Not too wide, not too narrow. Reason is simple – you get your mind muscle [angle choosing], you get another force applied [deadstart] and you are working on your lagging part – and it will grow no matter what! Just touch the barbell, make good reps and it will grow, I guarantee you.

    Nearly everything is the same in DB incline press as with above one. I strongly promote using overhand grip or something between overhand grip and hammer grip. While dipping you were using hammer grip – so a change will make another big difference. Choose it listening to your body. Some people shouldn’t use overhand grip no matter what – their shoulder might not stand it. With dumbbells comes another thing – stretch. The rule is simple – at lowest point – stretch your pecs to maximal anatomical stretch only. Don’t get yourself fooled straight into injury by doing excessive overstretch. No matter what you read elsewhere – overstretch as everything that is done by trying to cheat “mother-nature” is bad.

    How to judge what is good for you between those two? Answer is simple – your body is a judge. Got any shoulders problems? Drop barbell and overhand grip. Tried barbell pressing many times without any mind-muscle at every possible angle? Then switch to dumbbells. Dumbbells are more natural, but the price is paid in lowered weights. Again – you are a bodybuilder, you must progress in strength but with exercises that promote your target muscle. For someone low in dexterity, putting heavy DB into starting position might be tricky without additional assistance – and believe me – they will be only heavier and heavier with time. That’s the reason to start working on your dexterity and explosiveness. Choose wisely – adding second movement will create significant muscle mass and will correct yours chest shape. This could be your last step in pecs workout changes. Great pectoralis major sternal and clavicular head, great pectoralis minor – everything being trained, everything is progressing at high speed.

    Bench press with leg drive path

    By performing good quality strength bench you have built great pecs. Pectoralis major sternal head is in great size. Maybe not so edgy at lower part, but the higher part is better as with dips. All in all, clavicular head is lacking. Not so big time as with dip path, but still lacking and it must be corrected.

    Tools to work with are very similar as those with dips. Incline bench press and incline DB press, both also done with deadstart. Keep in mind, that bench press built your pecs with another angle of focus then dips. Your clavicular head mass is already touched in a “quarter”. Most of you will find good mind muscle between 20 degrees and 45 degrees bench angle.

    The whole “what to choose?” case is the same as with previous path. With one addition. Try if adding second barbell exercise in the row, with the very same hand spacing is really giving you that what it should give. Some of you might expect too big shoulder involvement by picking barbell again.

    Two exercises had been chosen. Let resume it. Bench press built good all-around chest. But at some point upper part start lagging. We have added incline and fixed the problem. Still, we gave nearly nothing for pectoralis minor development. If you have no superior predisposition to its growth – its progress is too slow to avoid mass lags. But don’t worry. 99,9% people will not notice it. It’s not rare to see bodybuilding champion on national level with not sufficient p. minor level.
    But for now – don’t think about it. Adding second exercise will make a breakthrough on your road to chest glory.

    As much as I love dips, I strongly suggest to not picking dips as a second exercise after bench press for bodybuilding purposes. First reason is that it will enforce superior sternal head stimulus. It can greatly magnify the difference between upper and lower part – totally destroying your aesthetics. It can also lead to a stall. Keep in mind – till this time you have trained using one exercise only. Doubling the effort on nearly the same point of focus is not the brightest idea. Another reason is that both exercises are heavy ones. You start first heavy exercise, loose half of the tank, then you start the second one and loose everything rest. No matter what experience level – adding even a zillion more incline exercises will not build sufficient level of clavicular head development at this point for nearly most people. Working on lagging area with nothing left in the tank is not efficient way.

    Incline bench press path

    By training in inclined position you have built the greatest clavicular head above all three. In most of the cases it can mean you avoided popular lag which is a plague in gyms these days. Still, sternal head is somehow average, lower edge might be tiny and pectoralis minor is untouched.

    The big plus is that no matter what – incline press is heavy but not so body exhausting as dip or heavy bench. By changing angle you recover better than others. That means we can evenly distribute your energy to another exercise.

    This time we got three good quality exercises to choose. Chest dip, light decline DB press and bench press. All three using deadstart again.
    Chest dip might be too heavy for some people. It is demanding exercise, and as such, some fresh starters might not be able to perform it in sets. Of course – if you can’t perform dips because of bad proportions or previous injuries – do not even think about doing it!

    Watch closely – this time you will be performing chest dip, not power style dip. More bent at hips, feet under the head, greater chest mind muscle. Still it is not wide chest dip nor Gironda’s all assault chest targeting dip. Just adjust angle to promote chest mind muscle above other muscles, but nothing totally one way.

    Combining incline and dead-chest-dips is real dill because it will skyrocket your progress. You will receive quality clavicular, sternal and p. minor stimulus to great growth.
    For those that cannot perform dip comes another good exercise. Light decline dumbbell press. By light I mean something around minus 15 degrees. As always seek something around it to find great mind muscle connection. I’m not a fan of big decline in case of a chest workout. Too big forces applying might lead straight to injury. Big decline equals bigger blood flow up the head, and this leads to heightened pressure in the eye. I’ve seen too many guys with seriously messed retina after this. In my opinion it is just not worth it. Light decline is ok for those with healthy eyes. No healthy eyes? Better avoid any decline. In this exercise hammer grip is a good choice.

    Light decline DB press after performing incline bench is far superior for sternal head development then pressing dumbbells on a flat bench.

    The last choice is deadstart bench press without leg drive. Contrary to believe this is a good combination. At first it looks stupid, but when you will give it some time it can lead to proper progress. Rules are the same as before – if you can’t bench safely and healthy don’t bench!
    Keep in mind – it’s the same type of setting up and hand spacing as a typical strength bench press. Nothing too “bodybuilding special” here.


    In this article we went deeper. We added another exercise as our building tool. As you may notice – choosing first exercise is narrowing your next step. That is one of the reasons why we start training solely on one movement. By mastering the lift, grabbing everything what it gives us we 100% know what this exercise is not giving for our body! That is a win. Such information is a great power and progress accelerator. By listening to your own body you clearly see what you need to add. You can’t achieve it by starting training with many exercises. Result will be too blurred and too mix to notice what is giving what, and what is a real lack and not the result of hammering specified head too much.

    Successively and slowly adding movements to your chest workouts in a prolonged time is a key in mass gaining not slowed by too much variety. Multi angle approach is great bodybuilding method but you must earn the experience first to utilize it. Too much, too soon is a deal breaker. Be patient, master the lifts, seek mind-muscle with second exercise and watch your chest growing in no-time.

    You want great pecs, I want you to have great pecs – so do yourself a favor. Don’t use ready-to-use magazine routines designed [in theory] by BB celebrities. Individualization is a key.

    Also keep in mind one thing. I did my best to deliver you the ideal successions. But in individual cases it may happen that some other exercises will fit you better. Give them a try. Seek, find, learn and adjust. That’s the real lesson of this article.

    Next time we will talk about adding third exercise to your workouts. But for most of you – do yourself a favor and do not read part three in next few months. Just give your chest a chance to grow now.

    Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net