Monday, November 12, 2018

Chest Training 1955

Originally published in this shockingly inappropriate issue (July '55)  

by Joseph Weider, T.O.C. (T.M.B.)

If you are a beginner and have found it tough to add inches to your chest during the introductory stages of bodybuilding training . . . if you're a more advanced man and lack good pectoral development and proportionate chest muscularity . . . then something is drastically wrong. Bother, you've sure been following the wrong system. It's pretty obvious that if it had been The Weider System and its training principles, you would now be in possession of a full, thick, beautifully shaped chest with slab-sized pecs to top it of.

The Weider System:
The Weider System Dumbbell Training Course: 

The pectorals are the easiest group in the body to develop. There are more exercises and types of equipment to bring them and their allied groups to a peak of muscularity and power than for any other section of the human physique.

No bodybuilder need walk around with a flat bony chest or poorly proportioned pecs if he follows the Weider Principles as outlined in this article. Note: I'm leaving all the hoopla and self-promotion in this one. But not the supplement recommendation crap. I can not only honestly say, but I will guarantee that if you keep to the advice, and incorporate some of the exercises in this article into your workouts, you'll get such amazing chest bulk that you'll increase four inches in three months. Yes, it's that easy if you know how.

If you doubt the value of the Weider System and its training principles, pick up any magazine on bodybuilding printed prior to 1940. Look carefully at the photos of the bodybuilders in it, many of them with flat, bony chests and disproportionate pecs, at the chest poses of the oldtimers such as Hackenschmidt, Sandow, Saxon and Grimek . . . yes . . . even Eddie Theriault.

Oh, you mean that Eddie Theriault.

See for yourselves how they all lacked not only pec development but what we instructors call the classical torso. It was only with the advent of the Weider System, the new types of equipment we sponsored and promoted that Grimek, Theriault and the others who followed in their path got that high, full chest appearance. So right from the start you must understand that there is only one way to develop pecs fast and that is with the modern Weider Methods and Training Principles, plus the types of equipment sponsored by the Weider Research Clinic.

There is hardly a famous physique model of today who has not followed our methods, and because of this there is no man worthy of the name of Physique Champion who does not possess good pec muscularity and form. Aside from the invention of water, this type of pec development is of the greatest Weider discoveries. I couldn't resist.

Look at the powerful physiques of Reg Park, Clancy Ross, Lou Degni, Jack Delinger, George Eiferman to mention a mere few. They are products of our principles and I am going to pass on to you the exact methods and exercises they used to build their massive pecs, so that you can follow them and take advantage of their experiences and knowledge gained through the use of Weider Principles.
To begin with, the chest muscles must be worked individually, not in coordination with the others.

Yes, the pecs come into play when the shoulders and arms are worked, but the fastest and most productive way to build your pecs is to concentrate on them alone, and let the other muscles come in for some work indirectly. You must specialize on the pecs, work them, make them grow with the Weider Cheating and Peak Contraction Principles. Cheating exercises with heavy weights will give the pecs depth and bulk. Exercises with lighter weights in combination with the peak contraction method will give them shape and chiseled form. For this reason I am splitting the article into two parts: one for the movements to add bulk and depth, the other for shape and definition. So, we'll assume your pecs are not fully developed and properly proportioned, that you want to add more size to them. Let's go on a journey of ten steps.

Step One: The Muscle Priority Principle

When you start your workouts, exercise your pecs first. Use the Flushing Method and perform 3-4 exercises . . . two for bulk and two for form and muscularity. Start off with the first exercise, following through with the necessary combination of sets and reps. Pause for a minute or two, then go on to the second exercise, following the necessary sets and reps again. Take another pause when these are completed, and go on to exercise three and so on. After you've finished your pec work start your routine for the other body parts, but remember this: THE PECS COME FIRST EVERY TRAINING SESSION.

Step Two: Choice of Exercises
Look over the exercises illustrated.         

Click to ENLARGE

Pick out two cheating movements and two definition exercises you want to use in your next workout routine for the chest. But remember this: you must perform heavy bench presses every workout . This exercise is a MUST. If you so desire, you may keep to the four movements plus the bench press for a month and change after that time to another four different exercises plus the bench press for another month if this system suits your temperament. 

Others prefer to change the exercises every workout like Steve Reeves does, and this can be good too. Still more might train like Reg Park, changing the program only once every six months, and this also is okay. You will have to experiment and see what suits you best, what fits your particular temperament for fastest muscle and power growth.

Step Three: Choice of Poundages

You must handle as heavy a weight as possible in all your exercises. The constant handling of heavier and heavier weights forces your muscles to grow bigger and stronger. If on a particular day you feel full of energy and pep, try to use heavier poundages than previously. If you are tired, don't force yourself to try and increase the poundages with every workout. Let this rule guide you . . . if the weight feels particularly light, add more poundage. Since it is impossible to add size and thickness to your muscles without handling heavy poundages, in bulk programs stay away from light weight and high repetitions. These will never bring swift pec growth.

Step Four: Timing Your Training

Don't rush through your exercises. From the moment your hands touch the bar until they put it down at the completion of a set, concentrate on all that you are doing, on the exercise form, on the muscles' action, visualizing them growing bigger, stronger and more defined. Don't swoop the weights back to starting position. When pressing, press deliberately and lower the weight down slightly faster than you press it, but don't drop the weight down like a hawk swooping on its prey. Don't forget these points . . . concentrate on the exercise and the muscle action, perform the exercise deliberately, control the weights back to the commencing position.

Step Five: Choice of Sets

Never perform more than 3 sets of an exercise and never do more than 10 reps. All Peak Contraction exercises should follow the same procedure. When performing Cheating exercises and handling extremely heavy weights, still keep to 3 sets but don't go above 6-9 reps depending on both the poundage you are handling and your energy level for the session. Pause briefly between each set. Perform your repetitions, rest for a while, and then go on to the second set, and after another pause, the third set.

Step Six: Forcing the Repetitions

If you are particularly anxious to make extra fast gains and have already been working out for at least 6 months, take advantage of the Weider Forced Reps Principle. Here's how it works in the bench press: You must use an extremely heavy weight that will just allow you to grind out 7 repetitions. Two training partners assist you, one at each end of the bar, to grind out another two additional reps after you have just completed the seventh. They "finger" the bar up for you . . . not too much but just enough for you to keep the bar moving. This principle is best saved for the more advanced exerciser.

Step Seven: Choice of Accessory Equipment

Next tot barbells, the most important piece of equipment is the Weider Adjustable Exercise Bench. There's no argument about this . . . it's a must. While the pecs can be worked a little when you are standing, the exercises are not completely effective and variety of movements restricted. But on the flat or incline bench you can perform at least three score effective pec exercises. The movements that go with this article show some of the best, and give you an idea of the wide range of exercises possible. On exercise benches the greater amount of weight you can handle makes the pec movements much more effective too, and in fact, with the exception of certain dipping movements, it is impossible to build outstanding pectoral development unless you do use the flat and incline exercise bench. So order this combination bench at once if you are anxious to build up those floppers fast.

Step Eight: Booster Exercises

After you have completed your pectoral workout you should perform muscle control movements, tension exercises, standing before a mirror, crisscrossing your arms and forcing pec tension, or placing your hands palms together in front of the body and at shoulder level, and pressing them together with all the power at your command. These motions plus massage will teach you how to control the pecs for posing as well as how to concentrate more fully on their action when exercising.

Step Nine: Timing the Workout

When working the pecs, don't expect to get the training over in anything less than 30 minutes. Better make up your mind to devote at least 45 minutes to pec work when specializing. Some champions devote as much as 90 minutes to bring their pecs up, so don't just perform a few exercises and let it go at that. Make up your mind before ever you start training to devote not less than 30 minutes to the group.

Step Ten: Correct Breathing

Remember that chest perfection does not come solely as the result of pectoral development. For that high chest arch the way you breathe has an important bearing. Always breathe in as deeply as you can, arching the chest high, thrusting up the rib box as much as possible. Don't take a scared, tiny breath, but force the air into your lungs and force it out. This will not only help increase lung capacity but will strengthen the internal cheat muscles and help push up the chest to even greater size. So with these 10 steps firmly fixed in your mind, let's tackle the best pectoral developing exercises. Notice in the illustrations above how they are split up into two parts: those for bulk, and those for definition; the Cheating and the Peak Contraction movements.

Bulk Building, Cheating Exercises

Exercise 1: Wide Grip Bench Press to Chest
Lie on an exercise bench, a barbell held at arms' length above your chest with a collar-to-collar grip. Take a deep breath stretching your chest and forcing the rib box up, then steadily lower the barbell down to your chest. Press it steadily up to arms' length again and repeat. Try not to arch your back up off the bench. Don't rush through the exercise. Use all the weight you can handle and cheat when the last few reps get tough. Perform 6-9 reps for 3 sets, and after six months use the Forced Repetitions system.

Exercise 2: Wide Grip Bench Press to Neck
Lie on the exercise bench, a barbell held at arms' length above your chest, collar-to-collar grip. Lower the barbell down steadily to your neck, press back to arms' length and repeat. Follow the same rules and system of sets and reps as in the previous exercise and after six months of training, begin to use the forced repetitions system. 

Exercise 3: Bent Arm Breathing Laterals
Notice how the end of the exercise bench is propped up on a box or block. Don't raise the end of the bench too high . . . just a  couple of inches. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arms' length above your chest, then bend the arms slightly at the elbows (see shadow inset on Illustration 3). Lower the dumbbells down and out to the sides. As you lower down, take a deep breath, reaching your peak intake as the dumbbells travel below the level of the bench and your body, and begin to stretch the chest and rib box. Raise back to the commencing position, breathing out forcefully, and repeat. Use heavy weights, 6-9 reps, 3 sets, and take your time performing the movement. Don't rush through it. Concentrate on the breathing and force air into the lungs as you lower the dumbbells, force it out as you return them to the starting position.

Exercise 4: Power Floor Presses Off Boxes, Wide Grip
Now you've really got to load up that barbell . . . way over your best bench press. Notice how the plates rest on two strong boxes so the bar bridges between them. You'll only have to press out a few inches when you get under the bar, but man, what a workout your pecs get. Use a wide, collar-to-collar grip and thrust the chest up as you press the barbell off the boxes. Lower it back as steadily as you can and repeat. Don't be afraid to force out those last few tough reps and even arch the body to apply the cheating principle. Use every ounce of weight you can handle for 3 sets of 6-9 reps.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Bench Press
Lie on a flat exercise bench, a dumbbell in each hand at arms length above your chest, palms of the hands facing in to each other. Lower the dumbbells down to the chest, spreading the upper arms out wide from the shoulders as you do so. Let the dumbbells travel down as far as possible to fully stretch the chest muscles, then press back to starting position and repeat. Perform the exercise steadily but don't pause between repetitions. Just grind them out one after the other in steady fashion. Breathe in deeply as you lower the dumbbells and force out the breath as you press them up. Use 3 sets of 6-9 reps with all the weight you can handle, and shove up the poundage as soon as 3 sets of 9 reps becomes easy to perform. Force out those last two or three tough reps.

Exercise 6: Deep Dips on Parallel Bars, Weighted
Before you commence this make sure you can first comfortably perform 3 sets of 9 reps without any added weight. If you can, then attach weights to a belt around your waist for added resistance. If you experiment you'll soon determine the exact amount of added resistance that will enable you to grind out 3 sets of 6 reps. Go down steadily between the bars and when you are down between them as far as you can to, thrust the head and chest forward and slightly down to impart a tonic muscle stretching effect. Then push up to locked arms length again and repeat. Breathe in deeply as you lower the body and out as you push up again. Perform 3 sets of 6-9 reps, don't rush through the extercise, force out the last couple of tough repetitions and as soon as 3 x 9 is possible, INCREASE THAT EXTERCISING POUNDAGE.

These are some of the best pectoral producing exercises, tried and tested by the WEIDER RESEARCH CLINIC STAFF AND CHAMPIONS. Use the Flushing and Cheating principles with them.

Definition Producing, Peak Contraction Movements

Exercise A: Incline Barbell Press
Lie on an incline bench with a barbell held at arms' length above the chest, gripping the bar with a wide collar-to-collar grip. Use a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 10 reps. You should be able to handle it comfortably. Concentrate entirely on the exercise and the muscle action. From arms' length position above the head, lower the weight down SLOWLY, taking a deep, deep breath as you do so, reaching the peak of intake as the weight touches your chest. Press slowly back to arm's length again, breathing out forcefully, and repeat. Don't forget to perform the exercise slowly and deliberately and concentrate strongly on the muscle action.

Exercise B: Bent Arm Laterals on Incline Board
Lie on an exercise incline bench, a dumbbell held in each hand at arms' length above the chest. Bend the arms slightly at the elbows and keep them bent throughout the exercise. Lower the weights down, taking a deep breath as you lower them, forcing in the air and reaching the peak of intake as the dumbbells reach their [here's where I deleted a longwinded rant about sissified Princesses who actually believe high rep heavy squats and lifting weights are the hardest 'work' they'll ever do. It had to do with the various merits of deep breathing during chest training and wound up with some damn thing about accepting the challenge of randomly driving across the continent eviscerating as many folks as possible before getting caught. Okay then! All in a day, eh. I imagine the cleaning tasks would be pretty annoying if a guy was halfassed successful with that challenge over a long period of time. This is why car theft was invented. To remove blood, gristle and brain matter from vehicle upholstery, try baking soda and tonic water. The banality of evil, buddy.] as the dumbbells reach their lowest point, the laterals, silly, and are exerting a complete stretching effect on the chest muscles. Return to commencing position, breathing out as forcibly as you can and repeat.

Concentrate on correct breathing and don't attempt to perform the disemboweling, I mean exercise, in any way but slowly. Handle a weight good for 3 sets of 10 reps. You must be able to perform the exercise comfortably without having to force the reps . . . the last one you make naturally will be a little tough, but not so tough that it takes your mind off correct breathing and exercise performance.

Exercise C: Incline Dumbbell Press
Lie on an incline bench, a pair of dumbbells held in the feet, um, hands, at legs', er, arms' length above your chest, palms of the hands facing forward. As you lower the dumbbells down make sure your upper arms and elbows move SIDEWAYS AND DOWN do the elbows point out as the upper arms reach shoulder level. Illustration C clearly shows how the movement is performed. Of course! I was havin' a rough time figuring this one by looking at Illustrations A and D. Whew. That's better.

Pull the elbows well down to the sides but DO keep the palms of the hands facing forwards. Press to arms' length again and repeat. Breathe in deeply as you lower the bells and out as you press them to arms' length. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps and make each repetition a slow and deliberate one, concentrating on the exercise and muscle action for maximum peak contraction effect.

Exercise D: Barbell Forward Raise on Incline Bench. That deal, or a DIY version of one, are outstanding for all sorts of stuff you just can't do the same way on a seated incline bench. A standing incline bench setup and a power rack can lead to all manner of exercise variations.

Lie on that incline bench, a barbell resting across the hips or upper thighs at full downward arms' stretch. Use a fairly wide grip . . . a little more than shoulder width. From this position raise the barbell up to the position indicated in the illustration, hold it for a slow count of three, then lower and repeat. When you lower the barbell, don't let it touch the thighs but keep it about an inch off. This is not only a fine frontal deltoid movement but it gets the pecs in a new range of motion and imparts a fine Peak Contraction effect. Take a deep breath when you start to raise the bar thrusting the chest UP as high as you can. Breathe out as you lower the bar. Force the air in and out of the lungs, perform the exercise slowly, use 3 sets of 10 reps and don't forget to HOLD IT AT THE TOP of the raise in each repetition.

Exercise E: Wide Grip Bar Pushups
Using a wide grip, grip a stabilized bar, body kept absolutely straight and in one rigid line from feet to shoulders. Start from the locked arms' length position above the bar. Lower slowly down to the bar until the chest touches ti breathing is as deeply as possible. Press up to arms' length slowly and repeat. Use no resistance other than that of your body and perform as many repetitions as you can, forcing out every possible one for three sets. Don't rush through the movement or bounce into the dip and up again. No rebound. This exercise MUST BE PERFORMED SLOWLY. It's great for the pectoral sections close to the deltoids.

Exercise F: Narrow Grip Bar Pushups
Hands gripping the bar a couple of inches apart, body held rigidly from feet to shoulders, soldier. Go down slowly to the bar until the chest touches it then press up to arms' length again and repeat. Use no resistance other than your body provides and force out every possible repetition. Number of reps is important here to burn off that surface fat and impart a steel strand appearance to your chest, as they said in '55 quite frequently. Don't rush through the movement but do it slowly for 3 sets of as many reps as possible. AMRAP, as they said quite frequently in 2018.

Exercise G: Stiff Arm Lateral Dumbbell Raises
Lie on an exercise bench, a dumbbell held in each hand at arms' length above your chest. Keeping your arms absolutely straight during the exercise and locked at the elbows, lower the bells down to the sides. As you lower them take in a shallow, I mean deep breath, reaching your peak of intake as the bells reach their lowest point. Raise to commencing position and repeat. Concentrate on the exercise and breathing. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Steel Strand Appearance!

Exercise H: Dumbbell Rolls
Here's a unique movement guaranteed to give you a peak of pec development. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and assume the floor dip (pushup) position, toes touching the floor and hands gripping the dumbbells as in the illustration. Make sure the collars are loose on the bars so the plates will revolve freely. Slowly push the dumbbells out to the sides as far away as possible, keeping a check on the movement all the time. When you have pushed the dumbbells out as far as you feel is comfortable, pull them back in to starting position and repeat. You won't be able to perform this exercise too smoothly at first but do so as best as you can. With practice you'll soon get the correct way to do it. Try to keep the elbows locked, arms stiff, and 3 sets of 10 reps will have your chest feeling pumped up like a blimp.

Exercise I: Decline Dumbbell Pullovers
Notice the way you have to lie on the abdominal board, feet at the top and heat at the bottom, arms stretched above the head at a 45 degree angle from the shoulders. In each hand grip a dumbbell, the arms kept straight and rigidly locked out at the elbows. From this position pull the dumbbells up and over until they meet together above the chest. The dumbbells sadly pine, "Someday, someway, we both have a lifetime before us, for parting is not good bye. We'll be together again." Now comes the important part of the exercise. Lower those singin' dumbbells down to the same angle they started from, breathing in as deeply as you can, just forcin' that air into the lung-o's. When the dumbbells touch the floor, your chest should be thrust up into that arch yet without lifting your upper back or lower back off the abdominal board. Don't rush through the exercise but concentrate on each repetition and handle a poundage you can use for 3 x 10.

These then are the very finest possible pectoral development movements. Yes . . . there are dozens more you could perform but these are the proven exercises for greatest possible pec form. I suggest you base your routines around them and follow every particle of advice I have given you.

You are right here obtaining championship information, knowledge it took the Stars years to acquire and the Research Clinic years to compile. Yet here it is, complete in one article for you to use. So good training and good luck and may you rapidly build bigger pecs and a deeper chest.

Why not drop me a personal letter and tell me how you are making out with these exercises? I want all of you to know that I take a deep personal interest in your bodybuilding, and any gains you make in power, muscularity and massiveness make me happy as well as you. So why not write me that letter, tell me about your experiences, and help us make the Weider Research Clinic an even better functioning organization.


There's a more complete 1957 chest book "by" Joe Weider here:

It also deals with upper back training. 

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