Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Massive Chest for You Part One (1957)

This 50-plus page book was published in 1957 by Weider Publications, and has Joe Weider as the author named. I am not sure if he was the real author, but could hazard a guess as to who it probably was. Nonetheless, I've edited out some of the earlier sections, which are almost identical to the first few chapters of the Weider book, "Massive Arms for You" which can be found divided up into chapters on this blog. Yes, thisee here blog thingee.

The book also deals with upper back training

Enjoy Your Lifting!

A Massive Chest For You


You will find here 29 basic exercises, along with a great number of variations. Each exercise will be numbered and you will be told exactly what the specific benefits of each are. In addition, I am breaking down the exercises into four major groups:

1) Barbell Exercises for the Front of the Chest
2) Dumbbell Exercises for the Front of the Chest
3) Barbell Exercises for the Upper Back
4) Dumbbell Exercises for the Upper Back

I am doing this purposely for two reasons. Later on, when I outline specific routines for your various chest aims, such as greater bulk, increased definition, a deeper rib box and so on, I will merely have to give the exercise number, list the sets, repetitions and other pertinent information, and you can refer back to this chapter to learn how the exercise is done.

My second reason for grouping the exercises in this manner is to assist you in your more advanced stages of training, possibly years from now, after you have tested and benefited from the information in this book and desire to arrange your own routines. You can always refer to this chapter and have a handy, perpetual guide for your future training. In this way you can double check your personal programs to make sure that they are the ones which will bring you the desired returns for your efforts.

Besides explaining the 29 basic exercises, I will also explain many variations of these basic movements and tell you what the specific purpose of each variation is. Sometimes the mere difference of a wide grip and a narrow one can produce an entirely different bodybuilding effect and if you know what such variations can do in your chest developing program you will naturally insure faster gains.

Group One -


Exercise No. 1 - The Stiff Arm Pullover

The specific benefits of the stiff arm pullover are to deepen and widen the rib box. It contributes only slightly to the actual muscle mass of the front of the chest. However, it does tend to strengthen the upper attachments of the pectorals and in this way guards against too heavy, drooping pectorals. Pullovers of some sort should never be neglected in the chest program. This does not mean that you need perform pullovers every workout. However, from time to time you should include them in your workouts to assure maximum rib box growth.

The pullover is of particular benefit to the beginner in bodybuilding whose entire rib box formation is undoubtedly stunted in size. By increasing the depth and width of the rib box, he will step up the functional efficiency of the heart and in this way not only assist his chest building program, but his overall training success as well.

The usual method of performing the stiff arm pullover is to lie on a flat exercise bench, or else to raise the upper body off the ground on a stool. Then, hold the barbell with a shoulder width grip, palms facing to the front, the weight at full arms' length above the chest.

Take a deep breath and lower the weight to the rear. Lower as far as comfortable, or until a distinct binding is felt in the shoulder area. DO NOT force the weight down below that binding point. To do so, particularly in the preliminary stages of training could cause serious injury to the shoulders and might delay training for weeks, even months.

Always remember that in the human body, just as in any other delicate mechanism, nothing is ever gained by forcing. You can train the body to perform almost any physical feat, but you must coax it along in sensible stages to avoid damage.

Once the weight is lowered as far as is comfortable, it is pulled back to the starting position. The breath is exhaled while doing so. The entire movement is then repeated.

An even more elemental method of performing the pullover is to proceed exactly as explained above, but instead of doing the exercise either lying on a flat exercise bench or else with upper body raised on a stool, the entire movement is performed lying on the ground.

In cases of extreme muscular weakness, or when older men, those over 40, start bodybuilding, such a procedure is a safeguard against shoulder strain. However, even the weakest individual will soon outgrow the benefits of the floor version and he should progress to a more advanced one.

A simple method of progression is to place a pillow or a cushion under the upper back and this will raise the upper body off the floor and permit greater exercise freedom. After a few weeks, the flat bench or stool variety should be practiced and from that point on the floor version should never be gone back to.

A very close hand grip pulls more on the muscles under the armpits and loses much of its rib box effectiveness. It should only be used after the rib box is as deep as desired and if a more pronounced under arm development is needed. However, since there are better exercises for the under arm area, the regular, shoulder width hand spacing should be relied on in the stiff arm pullover.

A very wide hand spacing  throws a greater strain on the shoulders, and is of little benefit to the rib box. This is not to be practiced if the most benefit is to be obtained from the stiff arm pullover.

However, there is one variety that will benefit the bodybuilder and one he should practice from time to time. This variety is as follows:

- Use about half the weight you can use in the regular stiff arm pullover. Start in the regular flat bench position, with weight at arms' length above the chest. Now, round your shoulders and reach up as high as possible. Hold your shoulders raised up in that position and continue to reach HIGH and then perform the pullover. This version throws a real strain on the hard-to-develop serratus magnus and should be practiced from time to time.

The stiff arm pullover can also be performed starting at the thighs and then, in a half circle, raise the weight first up and then to behind the head. This movement throws quite a lot of exercise stimulus on the lower section of the pectorals and is valuable for that. However, generally, the amount of weight that can be handled is less than in the regular pullover, which lessens its rib box development effect. If only the portion of the exercise from the thighs to arms' length above the chest is performed, then this version can assist in thickening the lower section of the pectorals. It is better to perform the pullover as one exercise and then reduce weight and perform the movement from the thighs to above the chest as a separate one; provided, of course, that specialization is needed on the lower pectorals.

Some authorities advocate the use of an incline bench for the stiff arm pullover. I am not in agreement since the angle of the bench throws most of the strain onto the deltoids and there is very little rib box stretching when the weight is above the head. In my estimation this is merely a secondary chest exercise and one that can well be done without in this course. It should not be overlooked for frontal deltoid development, however, and you can jot that version of the pullover down in your note book to be considered for deltoid development.

The DECLINE pullover is a valuable variety. A decline bench can be easily set up, using a seven foot length of 12" planking with one end raised on a sturdy box or bench and the other permitted to rest on the floor. The feet are positioned on the high end of the board and the head is toward the floor, or more expressly, the body is declined. If pullovers are performed in this manner, with the head, lower than the feet, an additional strain is thrown on the upper pectoral attachments and these then tend to pull the entire pectoral surface high. Not only does this assist in deepening the chest, but it imparts a high curve to the pectorals which is desirable.

After spending some time with the regular pullover, consider the decline pullover as a valuable variety you should not overlook.

Exercise No. 2 - The Bent Arm Pullover 

The bent arm pullover is a cheating version of the regular stiff arm pullover. It is a more advanced style and throws greater strain on the pectorals as a whole. It is not to be practiced until after at least several months of training on the regular stiff arm pullover. If you employ the stiff arm pullover properly in your beginner's workouts, a few months will be sufficient to deepen and widen your chest appreciably. The bent arm pullover will continue this rib box growth, but at the same time it will add the element of extra pectoral muscle work.

Start with the weight resting on the chest, in about a line with the nipples. Use a normal, shoulder width hand spacing with the palms of the hands facing to the front.

Take a deep breath and raise the weight about four inches above the chest. Then, permit it to ride back down and as close to the head as possible until it reaches . . .

 430 lb. Bent Arm Pullover

Okay then. Draw the weight back to the chest and exhale while doing so. Then repeat the entire movement. 

A narrow grip in the bent arm pullover is preferred by certain lifters. Others perform it with the palms of the hands facing the rear. However, while such variations are undoubtedly interesting and if performed occasionally do tend to pep up a workout, they are merely novelty versions and do not influence the front of the chest as beneficially as the normal manner. Still, you should practice them from time to time, but always go back to the usual form for its proven worth.

A wide grip is not practical and in fact, difficult to practice. It is of questionable chest benefit and may quite readily be discounted as far as this work is concerned. 

The incline version of the bent arm pullover is likewise an inferior chest movement, EXCEPT for the serratus magnus region. It will assist the formation of well defined serratus magnus and can be employed for that. But don't look at it as a means for increasing chest girth.

The major purpose of the bent arm pullover, performed in normal style is to CONTINUE the growth of the rib box and add appreciably to pectoral bulk, AFTER the stiff arm pullover has laid the basic groundwork, Do not jump over the stiff arm pullover and go into the bent arm version immediately. If you do, you will require a longer time than normal to stretch your rib box to its maximum size.

Exercise No. 3 - Rebound Bent Arm Pullover


 The rebound pullover is a POWER movement. Because you can use tremendous poundages in it, in a sense it will assist you to greater chest bulk. It is, however, a progression beyond the regular bent arm pullover, just as that exercise was a progression beyond the stiff arm pullover and should be relied on only for advanced training.

It is performed exactly the same as the regular bent arm pullover, except that two boxes are placed behind the exercise bench. The weight is then lowered onto these boxes, permitted to hit the boxes with some force and to rebound off them. The lifter gains control of the weight on the rebound and pulls it back to the starting position. A normal shoulder width hand spacing is used.

The major benefit of the rebound pullover is to get you past sticking points in the regular bent arm pullover. If you hit a period during which it is difficult for you to increase poundage on the regular bent arm pullover, a few weeks spent on the bent arm rebound version will so increase your power that the sticking point will be broken quickly.

As an extra dividend, the rebound pullover will help you to bulk up your chest, due to the heavy weight used. It might, however, tend to make you too beefy looking if followed as a regular diet. Therefore, employ it sensibly for short periods of time, either to break a sticking point or else to give you a lift in power, and rely on the regular bent arm pullover for general chest development.

Exercise No. 4 - Bench Press

 Pat Casey

Doug Hepburn

Jim Williams

Mike MacDonald

A wide hand spacing influences the outer portions of the pectorals most. A shoulder width hand spacing affects the center mass area, shoulders and triceps more. A close hand spacing throws most of the strain on the triceps area, so much so that much of the chest benefit is lost and it is not advises as a chest movement.

For the purposes of chest development use either a wide or a shoulder width grip. Better still, vary the hand spacing from time to time to assure a fully rounded development of the pectorals.

Performing the bench press with palms of the hands facing the rear (reverse grip bench press) is more of a triceps exercise and deserves no attention in this particular book.

The incline bench press influences the upper section of the pectorals and the shoulders more than the regular bench press, and is a valuable variety.The decline bench press finds the weight difficult to control and apt to get out of hand, and therefore can be eliminated.

It is hard to improve upon perfection, so let us be satisfied in our knowledge that the bench press is undoubtedly the finest pectoral exercise in the world and not waste too much time in looking for variations.

Exercise No. 5 - Rebound Bench Press

Commence with the weight held at arms' length above the chest, either a wide or shoulder width hand spacing. Lower the weight quite quickly and permit it to rebound off two boxes. Regain control of the weight on the rebound and press it back to the starting position.

Because the barbell does not go down as far as in the regular bench press some of the pectoral action is lost. But, a few weeks on the rebound principle will so step up power that you will be able to handle much heavier weights with greater confidence, which will over time result in greater muscle bulk.

Use it to add variety to your training, or because you have hit a sticking point. Rely on the regular bench press to do most of the pectoral building for you. The rebound bench press will merely give you added power, as and when needed.

 Exercise No. 6 - Special Serratus Magnus Exercise

This is a simple yet effective serratus magnus movement. Stand erect with a barbell held at the chest as in the regular two arm standing press. Now, raise the weight up until it just clears the head, take a deep breath and lower it behind the head. Pull the weight back to the starting position and repeat. You can use either a normal shoulder width grip, or else a rather close one in this exercise, and it is one of the best serratus magnus movements known. 

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