Sunday, September 30, 2018

Chest Training - Dorian Yates

"From the Shadow" by Kaspa Hazlewood
Published by Dorian Yates
 Feb 27, 2018

One of the most common frustrations I hear from the countless people I meet deals with what they feel is an inability to pack on more size to their upper body - namely, their pecs. Because of this, a lot of people label themselves as "hardgainers," often prematurely and unnecessarily. But believe it or not, I can relate to their frustrations.

In my earliest days as a competitor, my chest was a weak point, and I wanted to seriously bring it up to par with the rest of my physique. At the same time, I knew that simply hammering away at it with the heaviest weights I could handle would be a waste of energy (and an injury risk). I decided to attack the problem systematically and analytically. 

As a result of my efforts, I was able to hone in on three effective exercises to address the specific areas that needed the most improvement. With the goal of adding mass to your pecs, here are the exercises - both presses and flyes - that will help you keep the gains coming. 

Problem Zone No. 1: Upper Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Incline Press.

I'm not a fan of flat bench presses, as they rely too much on the power of the front delts. Incline presses do a fine job of stimulating the muscle fibers of the upper pecs. Set the bench at a 30 degree angle, instead of the standard 45 degrees, to ensure that the resistance is placed on your pecs - a steeper incline will shift the emphasis to the front delts. Be sure to use strict form. Begin with a light warmup set of 20 reps, then perform 3 all-out max sets of 6-8 reps. Keep the movement slow and precise on the way down, and then explosively drive the bar up until your arms are fully extended at the top. 

Problem Zone No. 2: Inner Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Hammer Strength Seated Bench Press.

This exercise works as a multi-joint mass builder much like the standard barbell bench press, but the unique angle (the arms come across or inward at the end of the movement) provides a better contraction and allows you to target your inner pecs. The Hammer Strength machine also offers more safety and stabilizing than a free bar, which requires balancing the weight. Press out to the extended position and focus on getting a burn as your contract your pecs. Typically, I work up to one heavy working set of 6-8 reps, plus one or two forced reps at the end of my heavy set. I suggest three working sets for you so that you accumulate more total volume. If your gym doesn't have a Hammer Strength machine, use a comparable seated chest press machine. 

Problem Zone No. 3: Outer Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Dumbbell Flye.

Dumbbell flyes, both flat and on an incline, are the best exercise for stressing and building the outer pecs, in my opinion. The reason being that they almost fully take the deltoids and triceps out of the equation so that it's the pectorals that are carrying the brunt of the load. Also, the stretch at the bottom of the movement helps flood the area with more blood, which carries muscle-building nutrients for optimal growth and recovery. And developing the outer pecs to their max adds width and density to the whole pectoral region. For maximum effect, go for a complete stretch at the bottom position. Don't bring the dumbbells together at the top, either, because there's no significant muscle resistance gained by doing that. For full effect and safety, flyes must be performed in a slow and controlled manner. Use the heaviest weight with which you can complete 3 sets of 6-8 reps.


My own version of the exercise program below brought up the lagging areas of my chest early in my career, and it continues to pay dividends today. Hardgainers and pro bodybuilders have more in common than you might suspect. The goal is always to improve mass and muscularity at the quickest possible rate. At the end of the day, that's what my recommended chest workout for hardgainers is all about.     

So then . . . 

Incline Barbell Press, 3 x 6-8
Hammer Strength Seated Bench Press, 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Flye (flat or incline), 3 x 6-8.

Workout Boosters

Forced Reps. 
This is one of my favorite training methods, as it's an excellent way to extend a set beyond failure. Here's how it works. During incline barbell presses, for example, I often reach failure at the 8th rep. Failure means being unable to complete another rep with that maximum weight - it does not mean that I've depleted all my strength. To put the idea into action, my training partner places his hands under the bar and provides me with only the assistance that's needed to get just another two assisted reps and take the muscles beyond their normal point of failure.

Once again, the rest-pause method is employed at the end of a set to push the muscles past their normal point of failure. For machine presses, for instance, once I reach failure (see my definition above), I sit there and rest for 10 seconds to recoup strength. Then I press out one more rep, rest another 10 seconds, and press out one final rep. Rest-pause is a terrific strength builder, and it's a lot safer than forced reps, if you don't have a reliable training partner to help you. 

Partial Reps. 
This is another way to extend a set for exercises that don't lend themselves to forced reps. Exercises like dumbbell flyes or dumbbell lateral raises are the types of moves I'll normally employ partial reps on. As I reach failure on a set of lateral raises, for example, rather than ending the set, I'll continue to raise the dumbbells as high as my strength will allow. Typically, it's three-quarters of a full movement or slightly higher. For dumbbell flyes, you can bring the bells from the bottom position to about halfway up. You'll still feel quite the stretch in your pecs. I'll use this method for a couple of three-quarter reps, then half-reps, and then quarter-reps, until my target muscle is fully fatigued and I'm out of gas.

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