Vary Chest Routine to Promote Growth

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Question: My chest training has gotten stale. Typically, I do Bench Presses, Incline Bench Presses, Dumbbell Flyes and sometimes a couple of Cable Crossovers to finish. I know I should vary my routines but I have finally gotten a 300 pound bench and I don’t change because I don’t want to lose that. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Change is a good thing especially when it comes to training. One thing you have to let go of is the fear that you will not be as strong on your bench press if you don’t do it every workout. The opposite is actually true. Change the rep patterns and the order in which you do your bench presses as well as change exercises. The differences in your training will strengthen accessory muscle groups which will assist your bench. This applies to the other major power lifts as well like squats and deadlifts. You still have to hit a heavy training day every two to three workouts, just not every chest workout.
On your first chest day out of four do your heavy training to establish your max. Follow bench presses with your usual exercises. The following chest day change the order of your training sequence. Begin with the chest exercises that you normally do later in your routine and finish with your bench presses. You won’t be able to handle as much weight due to muscle fatigue but if you are driving with 100% effort you may get close. The effort is more important than the actual weight.
The following workout for chest alters your training completely. Begin, after warming up, with an isolation exercise like low incline dumbbell flyes and immediately follow those with dips or another compound exercise. After three or four sets of combinations like that choose another isolation exercise, cable crossovers. Alternate those with flat bench dumbbell presses. Again, repeat three or four alternating sequences and finish your workout with 3 sets of incline dumbbell presses.
When chest comes around in your training cycle for the fourth time, you need to return to heavy bench presses. You should be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ll be stronger than you were the last time you benched heavy. On a typical heavy bench day, most people start with a set of 8 reps then 6 reps then 4 reps for a couple of sets and finish with a max set or two of 1 or 2 reps per set. If you do this type of routine, then add one more twist to your training when you train chest again. This time you’ll train heavy again but do 8 sets of 2 reps with a 30 second rest interval between sets using 80 to 85% of your new max. This type of heavy, repeating work taxes the muscles in a deep way that promotes growth and change.
Make purposeful changes to accelerate your growth but remember, drastic results require drastic measures.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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