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The Simple Science of Effective Chest Training

The two biggest mistakes most people make in their chest workouts are:

1. Focusing on the wrong chest exercises.

Many people focus too much on machines and isolation exercises, which are of secondary importance in building big, “armor plate” pecs.

2. Focusing on high-rep training.

This mistake will stunt the growth of every major muscle group in the body and is particularly detrimental in a smaller muscle group like the pecs.

If those two points go against a lot of what you’ve heard and/or assumed about chest training, I understand.

I used to do every chest machine in the gym and used to think that smaller muscle groups responded better to lower weights and higher reps.

And in terms of training the chest, that means a lot of heavy barbell and dumbbell pressing with supplementary work like dips and flyes.

“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “[SHREDDED FITNESS MODEL] does a billion reps in his chest workouts and has amazing pecs… What gives?”

If only you had his #dedication. All 2 grams of it that he injects every week.

I know, that might sound cynical, but it’s true.

When the right steroids enter the picture, achieving muscle growth is mind-numbingly simple: sit in the gym for a few hours every day doing rep after rep after rep, exercise after exercise, and muscles get bigger and bigger.

In fact, when steroids are involved, focusing on high-rep training is generally recommended.

Steroids cause muscles to grow rapidly but don’t help tendons and ligaments keep up, so weights that feel manageable can simply be too much for connective tissues.

This is a common way that steroid users screw up their joints.

There’s another reason why steroids produce abnormally large shoulders, traps, and pecs (the upper portion in particular).

These areas of the body are quite dense in androgen receptors, which are special types of proteins in cells that respond to certain hormones in the blood (including anabolic hormones like testosterone).

Thus, when large amounts of anabolic hormones are introduced into the body, the shoulders, traps, and pecs are hyper-responsive and grow very quickly and can reach freaky levels of size.

Don’t be discouraged, though.

You can build a great chest without drugs. It just takes a bit of know-how, hard work, and patience. The strategy is simple enough:

1. Focus on lifting heavy weights in your chest workouts.

If you want your chest to get big and strong, you’ll want to focus on the 4 to 6 or 5 to 7 rep range.

2. Focus on the chest exercises that safely allow for progressive overload.

As a natural weightlifter, you can take this to the bank: if you don’t continue to get stronger, you won’t continue to get bigger.

The number one rule of natural muscle building is progressive overload, which means adding weight to the bar over time.

Well, certain exercises don’t lend themselves well to both heavy lifting and progressive overload. For example, heavy dumbbell flyes increase the risk of injuring your rotator cuff muscles.

Another aspect of your chest training that you have to get right is volume, or the total amount of reps you do each week.

This is especially important when you’re doing a lot of heavy weightlifting because the general rule is this:

The heavier the reps, the fewer you can do each week.

Heavier weights necessitate more recovery, which means you can’t do as many reps every week as with lighter weights without risking overtraining.

I’ve tried many different splits and frequency schemes and what I’ve found works best is in line with two extensive reviews on the subject.