Basic Training part 2

3 bench exercises for a huge Chest Bomb

By: Jeff Everson
Former Editor, Muscle & Fitness
Featured Training Body Muscle Volume 7

In 1967, I was a sophomore in high school. One weekend I had managed to get 90 miles away to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and find a Muscle Builder and Mr. America Magazine. (In those days, the Bob Hoffman publication Strength & Health was the major muscle magazine around Madison, Wisconsin and Weider’s mags were hard to find).

Now the Mr. America magazine was especially memorable in that a picture of Arnold Schwarzengger’s chest was on the cover. It was a shot of what many still consider the most amazing (massive) chest of all time.

In those days the NABBA Universe was the event, more meaningful than the IFBB Olympia which had just begun in 1965. All the NABBA bodybuilders (Chet Yorton, John Citrone, Reg Park, Dave Draper, Rick Wayne, Earl Maynard, Frank Zane, Frank Richard and Dennis Tinerino et. al.) listed their measurements---Arnold’s was listed at 58"--- exaggeration or not, no one else even approached that measure.

Any way you look at it – this was one big Momma of a chest, my friends! Then or now.

Part 1 Basic Training The best muscle size training

Now then, the Monday after the weekend that I bought the Mr. America I was showing it by my locker when one of my classmates came by and decided to take his pen and make a big ink mark across the cover.

He thought it was funny. Me? I was already scheming my revenge. I knew that the next day (our last day before summer) on Tuesday a.m., in math class, the teacher, call him Mr. X, would be going through each student’s math books to see if there was any damage. So, that night after school, I found my way to his locker (we did not even have locks in those days), opened his math book to about center and wrote in very heavy black marker, "Mr. X’s mother wears combat boots", not really, it was actually much worse (well, you get the idea).

The next a.m. in class I watched as this guy handed his math book to Mr. X, not knowing what was inside. Soon enough Mr. X paused at the pages and grew furious. Now, do ya’ think this guy got in any trouble, or not?

Now the moral of this story is two fold. One, you don’t cross me and not suffer the consequences and two, don’t make any ink marks on Arnold’s chest, if it’s my magazine.

That was 37 year ago and I still smile when I think about my glorious comeuppance. Funny thing too, the chest exercises I talk about herein, are precisely the ones Arnold worked hardest on in 1967!

Now let’s face it, to get a pretty massive and strong development of the pectoral, deltoids and triceps muscles, it takes quite a long time of hard work (and it helps if you are only 14-15 and really hungry as heck, and healthy and you want to be the best bodybuilder of all time.

But believe it or not, If you’re eating a lot of high quality protein 3-4 times a day (in addition to balanced meals) and get good sleep, you can pretty much do it with benches, low incline or flat DB presses and dips.

Jeff Storch incline-db-press
incline, Jeff Storch, each hand keeps 105 pound dumbbell level, lowering his elbows for better stretch and results.

That is really all you need, assuming you eventually learn how to use the best form to work these muscles and this should not be brain science if you read Body Muscle.

Of course, "targeting" any muscle group with intensity, emotion, form and tension is critical. Size requires that you induce the critical growth inducing metaphorical burn – congestion – pump. It is the glorious growth triumvirate. (Strength development on its own may not require this, but muscle size does.)

Training is specific as we know, the motor units recruited, the firing order of nerve/muscle and the predominance of muscle fiber types used and their relationship to size changes or power and/or endurance manifestations.

At any rate, gaining chest size is not just the moving of the heaviest of weights, (although that is easily the MOST critical factor) --whether it be explosively or done very slowly as some suggest.

Bench Incline Dips


Gaining pectoral mass and thickness is a one-to-one relationship with time, and pretty much a one-to-one relationship with barbell flat-bench presses, incline db. presses and dips too.

Train on free weight bars and dumbbells, not machines -- not any machines. In fact, show me just one guy who trains on, or will train on, a Bowflex, (and he can use 1000 mg. a day of steroids if he wants) and if this guy ever gets a pro bodybuilding card, I will donate 1 million to charity no question asked.

Ok, so if you want a big chest, then do all 3 exercises right. Stress your pectorals as much as you can within the limits of joint movement and unbending neurology and kinesiology.

Resting muscle is a bundle of potential resting viscoelastic energy ready to give off heat, contract, and make mechanical kinetic energy. That visco-elastic mumbo-jumbo means that muscle generally contracts better if it is under slight stretch, but not an over-stretch and definitely, not an under-stretch.

In most situations too, a quick eccentric stretch preceding a concentric contraction (called a pylometric) also makes a stronger contraction, but you shouldn’t have to worry about either – as if you bench and incline right, you do both automatically! What I mean by this is that in Benchpressing, your chest should be held high, putting your pectorals on stretch.

I have written how to learn this. It’s 99% why I got very close to 600-pounds (without any shirt on at all, and at 6’3’ 270- pounds) that wasn’t such a bad bench back in 1986.Fix your hips, butt and feet and tighten your low back glute muscles and "push" yourself against the bar towards your feet, but without moving your feet or butt!

Your back muscles cause a retraction and depression of the inferior angle of the scapulae as you roll and work your shoulders under your body. Your inferior angles of your shoulder blades go down, tucked in and back and because of scapular humeral rhythm (your pec major attaches to the humerous which articulates mightily with the scapulae), you have an elevation of the chest wall and this pulls your pectorals back into a stretch position.

Your Sternum/Xiphoid and rib cage are held high with a natural low back arch.

Your shoulders are back and down (think of keeping them in their sockets) into the bench, not extended out. You must maintain this position while benching and this is why power-lifters use a lift-off and you never protract and lose position at the top.

When benching and doing inclines, the bar and db’s do not go perfectly straight up and down. They should actually move as a slight arc, traveling a bit upward and backwards–but not a great deal, but diagonally nonetheless, from the high point (sternum), almost to a point where it is over your eye levels at the top.

With angle of pull isolation, keep you elbows directed out from your body, at the bottom position, your upper arms should be at right angles to your body and the forearm perpendicular to your upper arm.

This is the exact position to use whether you are benching, or ‘inclining’ with dumbbells. Dumbbells do provide, but that ain’t no be-all and endall. You still have to concentrate on form and the feel. I have also written that I feel that you should do flat benches with a bar 1 workout then do moderate to high inclines with db’s the next.

Now let’s address dips. Anyone who works hard on dips will build big, thick tri’s, pecs and delts. I don’t like (and never have), strapping on weights to do full dips. I just don’t advise it, but if you do go only parallel.

fill in your arms do abdominal work
If you are not just specializing on chest, then you may, of course, fill in your arms work, abdominal work, upper back work and leg work where you see fit.

And, just don’t make any wrong ink marks on your training log.


  • Day 1: Monday
  • 1: Barbell bench presses:
  • 2-3 warm-up sets of 10-15 rep, then, 4 - 5 sets, all with max weights. Lower the weight and do 2 more sets for 10-15 reps.
  • So, 1 x 12-15, 1x 10-12, 4 sets x 5 - 8 reps (failure), 2 sets x 10 -15 reps (failure)
  • 2: Full dips: 3-4 sets of as many reps as you can do with bodyweight
  • Day 2: (Next chest workout) I suggest FRI or SAT, 4-5 full days later)
  • 1: Incline barbell presses: 25 – 40 degree, 2-3 warm-up sets of 10-15 reps, 4-5 sets x 6-9 reps with maximum weight – to failure, 2 sets x 12-16 reps to failure.
  • 2: Flat bench dumbbell presses: 1 x 12 warm-up, then, 4 x 10-15 reps, using 5-10 lbs. less on each successive set with fatigue, (60’s x 13, 55’s x 11-13, 50’s x 12-13, 45’s x 13-15). All to failure.
  • 3: Dips: 1-2 sets maximum reps.

Day 3: (Next chest workout)
The coming Wednesday or Thursday.

1: Flat bench dumbbell presses: 2 warm-up sets of 10-15 reps. Use a "pyramid" and do 5 sets of 7-15 reps with the last set lighter again.

  • 1 set x 14-15 reps
  • 1 set x 10-12 reps
  • 1 set x 8-9 reps
  • 1 set x 6-7 reps
  • 1 set x 12-15 reps

Day 4: (Next chest workout) Suggested Tuesday or Wednesday. Repeat workout one and start the whole cycle over again.