Before I begin any workout I will always get on the treadmill or elliptical for 5 minutes just to get the blood flowing through my entire body. However, I believe the best stretch is a proper warm-up with light weights – go through the motions of the lift you are about to do with a lot less weight to prime your muscles for the intense work you are about to give them. I usually do between 2-3 warm-up sets before I begin counting my 4-5 working sets.
After my warm-up sets I might hang from a pull-up bar or grab the side of a squat rack and give my chest an additional little stretch.
The best method for building up your chest is intensity. Your muscles will only grow when they are subjected to an overload. But building your chest up also depends on your goals. If you just want to add mass to yourself, then I recommend lower reps with heavier weight. If you want to get more tone and definition, I would say to keep your reps somewhat high, as in the range of 12-15 reps with medium weight.
I definitely like working my chest with free weights. Free weights demand more of your body, and yet allow your joints and limbs to move in their natural planes, not just along lines dictated by the design of a machine. Sometimes you can get injured from machines – they can lock you into too rigid a position and cause unnatural stress on the body. Also with machines, you are very limited to the way you can isolate certain muscles.
For me, anything with dumbbells has worked the best. Using dumbbells makes the stabilization muscles of the chest stronger, which makes for a “thicker” and more symmetrical chest. Being so tall, my chest and back are the 2 points of emphasis in my lifting for filling out.
My favorite chest workout would be something like this:
- Dumbbell bench press (4 sets of 12 reps or failure…one minute rest in-between)
- Dumbbell incline fly’s (4 sets of 12 reps or failure…one minute rest in-between sets).
- Dumbbell incline press (30 degree incline, 4 sets of 12 reps or failure…one minute rest in-between sets).
After all 15 of these sets, my chest is completely pumped and destroyed!
My weight sessions last no longer than 1 hour. I actually have a stopwatch with me and once it hits that one-hour mark I am done. Research has shown that workouts lasting much longer than an hour will result in a drop of testosterone. After testosterone drops, it may take an hour or longer for levels to recover back to normal. It has been said to me by numerous strength coaches and fitness instructors, that if you are lifting for over an hour, you are either working too long or just making friends.
I try to make sure I have my pre-workout meal about an hour and a half before my workout. This gives time for digestion and keeps my blood sugar levels constant. 20-30 minutes before entering the gym I take a pre-workout supplement. This really helps me get motivated and develops a tremendous “pump” as I am lifting. I highly recommend to everyone to try a pre-workout supplement – there are plenty on the market right now. After my lifting, I usually hit about 20-30 minutes of cardio.
After my cardio, I down a serving of whey protein. This begins to replenish the muscle that you just exhausted in your workout. About an hour after this, I enjoy my final meal for the day. Then right before bed I usually take in a cup or two of fat-free cottage cheese for some slow digesting casein protein.
Nutrition: When picking out muscle gaining supplements it is very crutial that you pick one of the highest of quality. Most people associate high quality with high price and settle for the powders you can find in a local pharmacy.
I want to recommend PLATINUM from BodyBuilding.com. It’s the same brand I use when I am training for the NPC Men’s Physique Competition because it gives me the edge I need, and its very affordable. I use this line myself – especially when I have a competition coming up – which I do (November 17th).