A Brutal Chest Hypertrophy Workout!

Chest Hypertrophy Workout

Everyone wants a big chest like their idol Arnold Schwarzenegger! Why then do so many people have a chest flatter than a pancake? If this describes you then I have just what you need: a brutal chest hypertrophy workout to shock your chest into growth!

Table Of Contents

  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: Chest Hypertrophy Training Principles
  • Part 3: Sample Training Routine
  • Part 4: Why This Routine Works
  • Part 5: Training Splits
  • Part 6: Conclusion

Let’s get straight to the point: in this article I am going to give you one of the most brutally effective chest workouts I have up my sleeve.

I have personally seen many of my clients transform their upper bodies with this type of chest workout so I know for a fact it delivers rapid results.

We’re also going to cover some of the foundational principles of chest hypertrophy training and the science behind why this particular routine is so effective.

This is not an article that you want to skip over!

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Introduction

Read my lips: there is no such thing as the chest hypertrophy workout routine!

If there was then somebody would surely have found it by now!

Weight training is nothing more than a biological adaptation to a biological stimulus. Everything works, but only for a little while.

After a period of time you have to vary the loading parameters to keep the body adapting.

You can see this concept play out in things like advertising. Companies have to vary their product advertisements every few weeks because no matter how good an advertisement is, it stops working after a while.

The brain just gets bored when it is exposed to the same type of stimulus over and over!

Is your chest is “bored” from your usual training routine?

If you haven’t seen any new chest growth sense Robert Downy Jr.’s first Iron Man movie, then I have just the solution for you!

Let’s dive right into the specifics of this chest hypertrophy routine. We can discuss the more technical aspects of why it works so well a little later.

Part 2: Chest Hypertrophy Training Principles

Muscle fiber composition

The chest is composed of a good mix of fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers, although it tends to lean more towards the fast-twitch side of the spectrum in most individuals.

This means that when it comes to chest training, the pink dumbbells just won’t cut it!

Like it or not, you are going to have to lift some moderately heavy weights if you want to maximize your chest development.

Perhaps this is why so many IFBB professional bodybuilders these days have such underdeveloped chest muscles.

They are too weak to realize their full chest potential!

Different heads of the chest

The pectoralis major has two heads: the lower sternal head and the upper clavicular head.

Although it is not possible to truly isolate these two heads, it is certainly possible to shift emphasis to the sternal or clavicular heads of the muscle.

After all, they have different origin points on the human skeleton!

As a rule of thumb, exercises such as dips and decline bench presses do a great job of recruiting the sternal head, while exercises such as incline dumbbell and barbell presses recruit the clavicular head a little better.

Some bodybuilders will claim that it is also possible to shift emphasis to the inner or outer sections of the pecs with specific exercises.

For the purposes of this article we are going to simply ignore this though.

The stretch

More and more research is coming out proving that bodybuilding coaches such as John Parillo and Dante Trudel were way ahead of their times.

These guys were pushing the idea of using loaded stretching to augment the muscular gains that could be achieved from normal workouts.

For years they were called quacks by 150 pound armchair “science” experts who claimed this was all just bro-science.

“Real-world in-the-trenches experience doesn’t matter!” says the 150 pound armchair expert!

Well, jokes on them! Newer research is coming out showing these bodybuilders who relied on “in-the-trenches” experience were right all along.

If you want to maximally develop the chest then you are also going to have to include movements that place the pectoral muscles under the greatest possible stretch.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big believer in this concept and often performed ultra deep flies with his arms nearly straight!

Putting it all together

If I were tasked with designing the perfect chest workout (even though such a thing does not exist), this is what I would do:

  • I would use a variety of rep ranges, although there would be an emphasis on reasonably heavy weights as the chest has a larger percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • I would use a variety of exercises to target both the sternal and clavicular heads of the muscle
  • I would make sure to include a stretching-type movement, particularly towards the end of the workout

Luckily for you, I have just the routine in mind!

Part 3: Sample Training Routine

This workout will utilize tri-sets to blast through your previous chest hypertrophy plateaus.

If you are not familiar with the benefits of tri-sets then I highly recommend you read this article.

Basically tri-sets involve performing three exercises in a row for a given body part with only 10 seconds rest in between sets.

After you perform the third exercise you would rest for 2-3 minutes before repeating the entire tri-set circuit several more times.

After working with hundreds of trainees I can personally vouch for how effective a properly designed tri-set workout can be!

Here is the workout:

  • A1: V-bar dips (lean forward), 4 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: 30 degree incline DB press (pronated grip), 4 x 8-10, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Flat DB fly (Poliquin-style), 4 x 10-12, 3/2/1/0, 180 seconds rest

Note: if you have any trouble reading this workout then you may want to check out this article. I walk you through step-by-step on how to read a properly-written workout routine.

I imagine for many of you reading this that this may be the first time you have read a training routine where all of the loading parameters are clearly defined!

In order to avoid any confusion I have provided videos demonstrating how you might execute each of these exercises:

Exercise #1: V-bar dips

For example:

Of course you should add extra weight to a dipping belt if using just your bodyweight proves too easy.

Exercise #2: 30 degree incline DB presses

For example:

Exercise #3: flat DB fly

For example:

This may be a new exercise for many of you reading this article so I will go into a bit more depth here.

I am not a huge fan of the ways that most people perform DB flies. The range of motion is just too minimal to place much of a stretch on the pecs.

Instead I strongly prefer the form that Charles Poliquin popularized (see the fly video above).

The key is that your elbows have a very slight bend in them and you extend your arms behind you slightly as you lower them.

In the bottom position your hands should be in line with your ears! Once you reach the bottom you should externally rotate (rotate out) your hands before coming back up.

The anatomy behind this trick is pretty cool. Most people know that the pecs are responsible for bringing the arms in towards the center of the body.

However, they are also an internal rotator of the upper arm! In order to fully stretch an internal rotator, we have to externally rotate it!

So by externally rotating our hands in the bottom position of the fly, we are placing the pecs under the greatest stretch possible!

Be warned: you will have to leave your ego at the door on this exercise.

I would not be surprised if you had to use dumbbells each representing about 5% of your best 1-rep max bench press for the flies on this specific routine!

Don’t worry, the chest hypertrophy gains are well worth swallowing your pride for.

Part 4: Why This Routine Works

Tri-sets are a classic bodybuilding-style training method.

They have been around sense at least the 1940s when Larry Scott used them in his quest to become the first Mr. Olympia and build some of the most impressive arms the world has ever seen (still to this day!).

Hypertrophy training can basically be visualized in the following equation:

Hypertrophy = (Load) x (Time Under Tension)

In order to maximize the hypertrophy stimulus of a workout, you need to maximize both the load lifted and the total time under tension of the set.

Of course these two values are inversely related. If you increase the load of an exercise, then you can’t do as many reps and the time under tension goes down.

One clever way to get around this problem is with the use of tri-sets!

Tri-sets allow you to jack up the time under tension of a set to sky-high levels but without compromising on the load lifted!

This is a perfect recipe for growth!

In this case the three exercises chosen overload the pectoral muscles from every possible angle and function.

The dips overload the sternal head of the pectoralis major and are a great start to the triset because they knock off so many motor units in one movement.

Incline dumbbell presses are performed next which do a great job of overloading the sternal portion of the pectoralis major.

As you may know there seems to be an epidemic of bodybuilders with underdeveloped sternal heads! This leads the pecs to having a droopy appearance.

Not good!

Finally we finish things off with flat DB flies, a great exercise to stretch out the chest once it is engorged with blood.

I am in complete agreement with bodybuilding coaches such as Dante Trudel, John Meadows, and Stan Efferding that stretching a fully pumped muscle is a great way to stimulate further muscle gains.

All in all the combination the varied and properly ordered exercise selection, the varied rep ranges, and the short rest periods between exercises (as is typical for trisets) make this a brutally effective chest hypertrophy routine!

Part 5: Training Splits

There are many possible training splits that you could use in combination with this chest routine.

For example, a 3-4 days per week upper / lower split or a 3-4 days per week Poliquin-style split would work excellent.

However, I really feel that an underrated option for this type of tri-sets chest workout would be a four days per week push / pull / legs type split.

For example, here is what this split might look like if someone was training on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday:

  • Monday: Chest / Shoulders / Triceps
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Back / Biceps
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Legs
  • Saturday: Chest / Shoulders / Triceps
  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Back / Biceps
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Etc.

One of the advantages of this slightly unorthodox training split is that you get to train each body part once every 5-6 days on average.

This works MUCH BETTER than training body parts once every 7 days, at least for the vast majority of trainees.

For example, here is how you might set up an entire “push” workout using the sample chest routine shown above as the foundation:

  • A1: V-bar dips (lean forward), 4 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: 30 degree incline DB press (pronated grip), 4 x 8-10, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Flat DB fly (Poliquin-style), 4 x 10-12, 3/2/1/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated overhead DB press, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Seated DB partial lateral raises, 3 x 25-30, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline DB triceps extension, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • C2: Standing overhead cable rope extensions, 3 x 15-20, 2/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

This routine is no joke!

It definitely incorporates quite a bit of volume, but in my experience coaching hundreds of clients it is still within the realm of what someone with at least average recovery ability can recover from.

One thing is for certain: if you do this routine correctly you will experience one of the best chest / shoulder / triceps pumps of your entire life!

Part 6: Conclusion

I am going to sound like a broken record, but this is such an important concept to understand:

There is no such thing as the perfect training routine!

However, if you learn the art and science of strength training program design you can design training routines for yourself that deliver results in a fraction of the time it used to take you.

The chest hypertrophy workout routine presented in this article is one such training routine.

If your chest looks flatter than a pancake then I guarantee you that this routine will shock your body into growing once again!

Of course even this routine will stop working after about 3-6 exposures to it.

At that point you have two options: you can design your own follow-up chest routines, or you can hire an experienced coach to take care of your training programs for you. The choice is yours.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your strength training endeavors!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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