Everybody wants a big, strong chest! Why then do so few people have a set of pectoral muscles that turn heads at the gym?
I believe one of the reasons for this is very few people understand how to design chest workouts for maximum hypertrophy gains. After reading this article you won’t have that problem anymore!
- Workout #1: Eccentric Training For A Massive Chest
- Workout #2: A Brutal Mechanical Advantage Drop Set Routine
- Workout #3: Isometronics For Functional Hypertrophy
- Workout #4: Giant Sets For Giant Gains
- Workout #5: Feel The Burn With Escalating Density Training
- Workout #6: Post-Exhaustion Supersets For The Win
- Workout #7: Dorian’s Forced Reps Chest Routine
- Workout #8: The Ultimate Japanese Drop Set Routine
- Workout #9: Charles Poliquin’s Five To Eight Method
In this comprehensive guide I will be teaching you 9 of the most effective chest hypertrophy routines ever invented.
Some of the best chest hypertrophy routines include mechanical advantage drop sets, forced reps and giant sets. All of these training methods use training techniques to prolong the time under tension of your sets and make your muscles work much harder than normal.
The end result is an incredible hypertrophy training stimulus for a bigger, stronger chest!
Consider this article as an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can pick and choose the training routines that you like best out of the list.
It’s impossible to write a training routine that will work for 100% of the people 100% of the time. However, I am confident that some, if not most of these chest hypertrophy routines will work AWESOME for you if you are willing to train hard enough.
Note: if you have any trouble reading the routines presented here then check out this article on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…
Workout #1: Eccentric Training For A Massive Chest
If you are a long-time reader of Revolutionary Program Design then I am sure you know how much I love eccentric training. For the advanced bodybuilder there is nothing better than eccentric training for smashing through hypertrophy plateaus.
One of the challenges with eccentric training is that you often times need one or two well-trained spotters and/or specialized equipment such as weight releasers. Of course there are some ways to work around this issue if you are creative enough.
In my experience one of the best ways to perform eccentric training for the chest is with v-bar dips.
The big advantage of dips is that you can perform eccentric-only reps safely without a spotter. In the bottom position you let your feet hit the ground. Then you stand up on the dipping platform and perform your next eccentric-only rep. Rinse and repeat.
In my experience one of the best eccentric training strategies for building maximum muscle mass is to perform a few eccentric-only sets of an exercise at the END of your workout. These eccentric-only sets help you to exhaust your eccentric strength levels after you are pre-fatigued from the earlier exercises.
Here is a sample eccentric chest hypertrophy workout that you may want to try. Check it out:
Eccentric Chest Hypertrophy Workout
- A1: Flat DB press, 4 x 8-10, 2/2/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: 30 degree incline bench press, 4 x 8-10, 2/2/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Eccentric-only V-bar dips (forward torso)**, 4 x 4-6, 8/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
**Lower yourself down to the bottom position over 8 seconds. Then in the bottom position you let your feet hit the ground and you stand back up on the dipping platform to get back to the lockout position. Repeat for 4-6 total reps per set.
On this routine you will perform three exercises for your chest. The first two exercises are fairly straight-forward but you will have to remember to use the correct tempo. For both of these exercises it involves a 2-second negative phase and a 2-second pause on the chest. After the pause you explode to lockout as usual.
Of course the real fun begins on the third exercise! You are going to perform negative-only repetitions on free-weight dips.
You will stand on some sort of platform so that you are starting the exercise from the top position with your arms locked out. Then you will lower yourself down to the bottom position over eight seconds. You want to lower yourself at the same speed throughout the entire movement so go slow to start with!
At the bottom of the rep you will let your feet hit the ground. Then you stand back up on the platform, thereby “skipping” the concentric portion of the rep so that you can continue with your 4-6 total negative-only repetitions.
In the bottom position of these dips you will feel like the muscle fibers in your chest are being ripped in half! These eccentric-only reps are incredibly effective for hypertrophy and will give you some of the deepest muscle soreness of your life.
Note: if you are a relatively strong or advanced trainee then you will want to attach additional weight to your body with a dipping belt.
If you want to learn more about eccentric training then I highly recommend the following two articles:
The first article is a little more technical. I have done my best to shed light on the benefits of eccentric training from a scientific training while showing how you can design various eccentric training routines to take advantage of this knowledge.
The second article is more practical. I go into great detail on how to design workouts using all of the greatest eccentric training methods of the iron game.
Of course sample training programs are provided for every training method covered.
Workout #2: A Brutal Mechanical Advantage Drop Set Routine
I first learned about mechanical advantage drop sets from world-renowned strength coaches Christian Thibadeau and Josh Bryant. Over the years I have found myself using this training method more and more with my clients seeking gains in muscle mass.
Mechanical advantage drop sets are somewhat similar to old-school drop sets. However, there is one key difference: instead of lowering the weight in between sets you are going to slightly change the exercise while keeping the total weight same!
The idea is to pair together 3-4 similar variations of one key exercise. You start with the variation that you are weakest on and finish with the variation that you are strongest on.
This way you can perform all of these exercises back-to-back with minimal rest in between variations. The end result is an absolutely unbelievable stimulus for hypertrophy.
One of the easiest ways to design a mechanical advantage drop set for the chest is to perform three different variations of dumbbell presses in a row. For example you could perform 60 degree incline dumbbell presses, 30 degree incline dumbbell presses and flat DB presses all back-to-back with minimal rest in between sets.
You are stronger as you decrease the angle of the bench so you can use the same dumbbells and continue to bust out additional repetitions. This is an awesome post-failure training method that you can use to blow up your chest. IFBB professional bodybuilder Branch Warren was very fond of this kind of mechanical drop set for the chest.
Here is a sample chest training routine you may want to try. Check it out:
Chest Mechanical Advantage Drop Set Routine
- A1: 60 degree incline DB press, 3-5 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: 30 degree incline DB press, 3-5 x AMRAP**, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Flat DB press, 3-5 x AMRAP**, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
**AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible.” Just perform as many reps as you can with the same weight used on exercise “A1.”
Here’s how this routine works: your first exercise is going to be the 60 degree incline DB press. I want you to pick a weight that you think you can get for 10-12 reps. You should push yourself on this set – I want you to stop 1 or at most 2 reps short of failure.
Immediately after you finish your set you put the dumbbells down and change the angle of the bench to 30 degrees. Now pick the dumbbells back up and go right into your next set of 30 degree incline dumbbell presses. You won’t get 10-12 reps this time but that’s OK – if you get around 3-6 reps then you are doing just fine.
Immediately after you finish exercise “A2” you put the dumbbells down and adjust the bench so that it is flat with no incline whatsoever. Now pick those dumbbells back up again and proceed with your final set of flat dumbbell presses. If you get around 3-6 reps here then you are doing just fine.
Congratulations, you just completed 1 mechanical advantage drop set! I am sure your chest will be on fire at this point, particularly your upper chest.
This routine calls for 3-5 total mechanical advantage drop sets! The number of sets you do depends on your performance on that day.
If you feel like superman and your strength barely decreases from one drop set to the next then you can do 5 total.
On the other hand if you are losing a lot of strength from one drop set to the next then performing 3 total mechanical advantage drop sets is probably a better idea.
If you want to learn more about mechanical advantage drop sets then this article is for you:
I give tons of ideas on how to structure mechanical advantage drop sets for every single body part. If you have a lagging body part that needs to “catch up” to the rest of your body then this is one of the best training methods you can use.
Workout #3: Isometronics For Functional Hypertrophy
There are three types of muscular contractions: concentric, eccentric and isometric. You are probably already familiar with concentric and eccentric contractions. Concentric contractions occur when you are lifting a weight up and eccentric contractions occur when you are lowering a weight down under control.
Isometric contractions are a little different: they occur when your muscles are contracting without moving. For example if you were to bench press an empty barbell into a pair of safety pins as hard as possible you would be performing an isometric contraction.
Just check out the following video of Al Davis performing an isometric bench press:
Don’t let your eyes fool you: Al Davis is pressing into the safety pins as hard as he possibly can!
Powerlifters love to use isometric bench presses because they are great for boosting your strength levels. The isometrics allow you to produce more force than usual and they help you to recruit more motor units. However, there are ways to use isometrics to build muscle mass. You just have to be a little creative.
One of the most effective hypertrophy training methods you can use for your chest is known as “isometronics.” Isometronics is kind of like a hybrid of two powerful training methods:
- Partial range of motion reps
- Isometric contractions
You are going to use the partial range of motion reps to pre-fatigue your chest. Then after you are already pretty fatigued you will use the isometrics to further exhaust your chest.
There are three seperate steps to an isometronics set:
- Perform 4-6 partial range-of-motion reps in between two sets of safety pins in a power rack
- Perform a 5-8 second overcoming isometric contraction against the top pins. You should feel like you are trying to break right through the safety pins!
- After the isometric contraction you lower the weight back down to the pins and attempt one more partial rep. If you complete the partial rep then then increase the weight on the next set.
This will all make more sense when you watch a video demonstration. Check it out:
The above video does a pretty good job of demonstrating a full isometronics workout. The full routine actually consists of 10 total sets. Here is how the sets are organized:
- Perform 3 isometronics sets for 4-6 reps in the bottom third range of motion
- Perform 3 isometronics sets for 4-6 reps in the middle third range of motion
- Perform 3 isometronics sets for 4-6 reps in the top third range of motion
- Perform 1 regular or full range of motion set for 4-8 reps
After your 10th set of bench presses you could perform some accessory work for the chest (or some of the other muscles for your upper body) if you want to. However, these 10 sets are the main priority for the workout.
I’ll talk about why this routine is so effective in a little bit. First let’s take a look at what a full isometronics workout would look like. Check it out:
Chest Isometronics Hypertrophy Workout
- A1: Bench press bottom-position isometronics (medium grip), 3 x 6**, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: Bench press mid-position isometronics (medium grip), 3 x 6**, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Bench press top-position isometronics (medium grip), 3 x 6**, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- D1: Bench press (medium grip), 1 x 8, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- E1: 45 degree incline DB press, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/2/0, 120 seconds rest
**On your sixth rep press up into the top pins for 8 seconds. You are pushing as hard as you can on this isometric contraction. Think about breaking the pins in half! Then lower the weight and attempt one final reposition.
By now you should have a good understanding of how to perform a chest isometronics workout. Now let’s talk about *why* you would want to train this way. Isometronics is basically a post-failure training method.
The partial range of motion repetitions are designed to overload your chest within that specific range of motion and to recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers. Then the isometric contraction helps you to further fatigue your muscles in a way that is completely different from what you are used to.
This isometric contraction does many things that are beneficial for hypertrophy:
- It ramps up mTOR, the “on switch” for protein synthesis
- It increases the release of anabolic hormones including IGF-1 and mechanical growth factor
- It produces an occlusion effect so lactic acid and other metabolites are trapped in the muscle
- It recruits “dormant” muscle fibers so you are fatiguing more of your chest than normal
As you can see isometric contraction have a lot going for them. Another HUGE benefit of this chest isometronics workout is that your overall pressing strength will go up. I don’t care what the internet fitness experts say, getting stronger over time plays a HUGE role in how big you can get.
OK, I’m done. I’m not going to push isometronics on you any more. It doesn’t matter how unbelievably effective they are for building muscle mass – some of you reading this will just say “that could never work” and move on.
It’s as Charles Poliquin used to say: “You’re mind is like a parachute: it only works when it’s open!”
If your mind is open but you’re still not convinced then why don’t you check out the following article:
It walks you through step-by-step on how to get the absolute most out of an isometronics training protocol. You won’t be disappointed!
Workout #4: Giant Sets For Giant Gains
Giant sets are definitely one of the more “extreme” hypertrophy training methods.
Giant sets are very similar to supersets and tri-sets. You are still going to perform multiple exercises back-to-back for the same body part with only 10 seconds rest between exercises. The main difference is the number of exercises that you perform in a row.
With giant sets you have to perform at least 4 exercises in a row for the same body part! Actually there is no limit to the number of exercises you could perform in a giant set circuit.
IFBB professional bodybuilders Milos Sarcev and Ben Pakulski were famous for performing upwards of 10 exercises within a single giant set! This may sound like an extreme approach to training but you can’t argue with their results.
If you do not have the recovery ability of an IFBB professional bodybuilder then you are probably better off performing 4-6 total exercises as part of your giant set. Giant sets are great for building muscle mass because they prolong the total time under tension of your set and force your muscles to work much harder and longer than normal.
Here is a sample giant sets chest workout that you may want to try. It uses 5 exercises that are designed to overload your muscles in different ways and from different angles. Check it out:
Giant Sets Chest Hypertrophy Workout
- A1: Decline bench press, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Flat DB press, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: 30 degree incline DB press, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A4: 15 degree incline DB fly, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
- A5: 45 degree incline DB fly, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
It’s very important that you DO NOT go all the way to failure on any of these exercises. As a general rule of thumb I recommend you stop 1-2 reps shy of failure on each exercise.
This is really important as you don’t want to burn out your central nervous system on any one rep. We are performing 20 sets for chest after all!
One of the benefits of this routine is that you are hitting your chest from every possible angle. Nearly all muscle fibers in both the sternal and clavicular heads of the pectoralis major will be thrashed by the end of your workout!
Make sure you have your recovery program outside the gym 100% dialed in before attempting a routine like this.
You are going to want to use every trick in the book to help you survive. These tricks may include going to bed an hour earlier each day, meditating to reduce stress and cortisol levels, and consuming an appropriate post-workout drink.
If you want to learn more about giant sets then you may want to check out the following routine:
I talk quite a bit about giant sets at the end of the article.
Workout #5: Feel The Burn With Escalating Density Training
Every once in a while I learn about a new training method that rocks my world. This was definitely the case when I first read about escalating density training.
The idea behind this training method is to perform as many sets as possible in a fixed period of time. Every time you repeat the workout your goal is to perform more and more sets in the same amount of time rather than adding weight to the bar.
Many people have their own versions of escalating density training. However, I like Charles Poliquin’s version the most. Charles calls his escalating density program the “30/15/15 method.” Here is how the workout is structured:
- For the first 30 minutes you superset exercises “A1” and “A2”
- For minutes 31-45 you superset exercises “B1” and “B2”
- For minutes 46-60 you superset exercises “C1” and “C2”
Charles normally has his athletes superset antagonistic body parts with this routine. For example you could perform chest / back supersets or chest / bicep supersets.
You are literally going to go back and forth between the 2 exercises for the given time period with no rest in between sets. So you would perform your reps on the “A1” exercise, then immediately walk over to your “A2” exercise and perform your reps, then immediately walk back to the “A1” exercise and perform your reps etc.
This process is repeated for the given time period. Let’s take a look at a sample training routine before discussing this method further. Check it out:
Chest / Back Escalating Density Routine
- A1: Bench press (medium grip), sets of 2**, 4/0/X/0, no rest
- A2: Shoulder-width supinated grip chin ups, sets of 2**, 4/0/X/0, no rest
- B1: 15 degree incline DB press, sets of 8***, 2/0/X/0, no rest
- B2: Seated cable row w/ v-handle, sets of 8***, 2/0/X/0, no rest
- C1: Incline cable fly, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest
- C2: Seated cable rope face pull, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest
**Use a weight you can lift about 10 times on your first set.
***Use a weight you can lift about 20 times on your first set.
****Use a weight you can lift about 40 times on your first set.
Escalating density training works extremely well but it works for different reasons than most other routines. Again the idea is to perform a huge total volume of work rather than to fatigue yourself on any 1 set.
The pump you get from this routine is incredible but very hard to explain.
At first you don’t really feel like you’re accomplishing anything. The weights just feel so light. But as the workout progresses you start to fatigue and the pump grows and grows… After the first 30 minutes your muscles are going to be absolutely shot and you’re only halfway done!
As usual you should use a training logbook to record your workouts. Your primary goal at each workout is to increase the number of sets that you can perform in the given time period, NOT the amount of weight you are lifting.
Here are some goals you should shoot for each workout:
- Perform at least 20 sets for each of the “A” exercises
- Perform at least 10 sets for each of the “B” exercises
- Perform at least 7 sets for each of the “C” exercises
If you fall short of these targets then make sure you use the same weight at the next workout and try to perform more total sets. If you hit these goals then you have a choice: you can slightly increase the weight or you can perform even more sets. The choice is up to you.
Please note that these goals are based on my experience using escalating density training on myself and my trainees. I have just found through experience that these targets tend to work extremely well.
If you want to learn more about escalating density training then you can always check out the following resource:
It covers this superior training method in far more detail than I have room for here. Highly recommended!
Workout #6: Post-Exhaustion Supersets For The Win
Supersets are one of the classic hypertrophy training methods. They are also extremely reliable. It is very rare that someone does not respond well to this training method!
As I mentioned in the section on giant sets training super sets involve performing two exercises back-to-back with little rest between sets.
However, things get a little more interesting when you consider that we are doing post-exhaustion supersets! This involves performing a compound chest exercise immediately followed by an isolation exercise.
Post-exhaustion supersets a great way to stimulate growth in the chest because you get the best of both worlds: you get to move a ton of weight with the initial compound exercise and then you get to isolate the chest with a higher-rep isolation movement.
The scientific literature has clearly shown that post-exhaustion supersets work much better than pre-exhaustion supersets for building muscular hypertrophy. If you have never tried this superior training method then you are missing out!
If you are feeling especially brave then you may want to try the following routine. It features two seperate post-exhaustion supersets: one targets the clavicular head of your pecs and the other targets the sternal head. Check it out:
Chest Post-Exhaustion Superset Routine
- A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 5 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: 30 degree incline DB fly, 5 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
- B1: V-bar chest dips, 3 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- B2: Pec-dec machine, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
This is definitely one of the higher-volume chest routines in this article. If you perform the full workout then you are performing 16 total sets just for your chest! If you are a gifted bodybuilder then you should have no problem recovering from this kind of workload.
Unfortunately not all of us were blessed with elite bodybuilding genetics! If God smited you by giving you a poor recovery ability then you may want to perform fewer total sets. Here are a couple of options:
- Option #1: Perform 3 total A1/A2 supersets and 3 total B1/B2 supersets
- Option #2: Perform 3-5 total A1/A2 supersets and skip the B1/B2 supersets
I am confident that one of these options will work fantastic for you even if you are a self-proclaimed “hardgainer.” In fact I am so confident that you will like this routine that I will make you the following offer: try the routine for 3 workouts.
You can perform the full workout as written or one of the lower-volume versions of the routine as described above. If you do not have an 57 inch chest like Arnold Schwarzenegger within 3 workouts then I will do the honorable thing and commit seppuku by leaping off of a bridge of your choice. What a deal!
Workout #7: Dorian’s Forced Reps Chest Routine
When most people think of bodybuilding they think of of high-volume workouts with lots of sets, reps and exercises. The basic idea is that more exercises and a larger volume of training will allow you to “hit the muscle from multiple angles” and stimulate more growth.
I am a big fan of high-volume hypertrophy workouts for certain people. If you are a gifted bodybuilder or have more of a balanced neurotransmitter profile then they are fantastic.
Unfortunately not everyone responds well to this type of training. Many people cannot recover from these high-volume workouts. These unlucky individuals quickly overtrain unless their total training volume is kept very low.
Is training for hypertrophy hopeless for these guys? Of course not! There are many different ways to train. If you overtrain on high-volume workouts then There are many ways to skin a cat. Some of the biggest, most successful bodybuilders of all time used a low volume / high intensity training style.
The poster-boy for the low volume / high intensity training style is Dorian Yates. Dorian used a “1 set to failure” training approach to become the 6x Mr. Olympia winner and one of the most dominant bodybuilders of all time.
Dorian trained each body part with multiple exercises. The thing that made his training unique is he only performed 1 working set to failure per exercise. In many cases he even trained beyond failure by performing 1-3 additional forced reps at the end of his sets.
Here is the exact low-volume chest workout that Dorian used during the peak of his bodybuilding career. Check it out:
Dorian Yates Chest Workout
- A1: 30 degree incline bench press, 1 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0, rest as needed
- B1: Flat machine press, 1 x 6-8***, 4/0/X/0, rest as needed
- C1: 30 degree incline fly, 1 x 6-8***, 3/0/X/0, rest as needed
- D1: Standing cable crossover, 1 x 6-8***, 3/0/X/0, rest as needed
***Perform 2 additional forced reps with the help of a spotter after reaching concentric muscular failure. To perform a forced rep your spotter assists you through the concentric range and you lower the weight under control by yourself.
If you are going to follow in Dorian’s footsteps and use a low volume / high intensity approach then you need to be ready to put everything you have into your working sets. Take a closer look at the above videos. Dorian is literally putting his heart and soul into those last few reps on every one of his sets!
When you use a one to failure approach you only have one chance to create a growth stimulus with each exercise. If you screw that set up then you aren’t going to grow at all! Not everyone has the mental toughness to train this way year-round.
In my experience trainees with an acetyl-choline dominant or dopamine-dominant neurotransmitter profile are better suited for these types of routines.
It also helps if you have at least a couple of years of hardcore training experience before you attempt this kind of routine. It takes a couple years of serious training before you learn how push all the way to failure while still maintaining perfect form.
If you want to learn more about Dorian’s unique training style then you may find the following 2 articles helpful:
Dorian’s training approach won’t work for everyone. However, for those it works for but for a select few individuals nothing works better!
Workout #8: The Ultimate Japanese Drop Set Routine
Drop sets have been around for a very, very long time. They are very effective for building muscle mass if you are smart about how you use them.
It is very difficult to invent a new type of drop set that produces great results. After all, almost every drop set protocol has already been tried by someone, somewhere.
Fortunately a team of Japanese researchers managed to do the impossible in the early 20th century: they invented a new kind of drop st that works UNBELIEVABLY well for building muscular hypertrophy. The new drop set protocol was called “the Japanese drop set.”
Here is how the Japanese drop set works: you perform five sets of five reps on any exercise that you want. On the 5th and final set you perform 1 massive drop set. Here is what the 5th set looks like:
- Perform 5 reps, drop the weight by 10-15%, no rest
- Perform 5 more reps, drop the weight by 10-15%, no rest
- Perform 5 more reps, drop the weight by 10-15%, no rest
- Perform 5 more reps, drop the weight by 10-15%, no rest
- Perform 5 more reps, done!
So you perform a regular “5 x 5” routine, but the last set of five is replaced with the above drop set protocol. This protocol is absolutely brutal but the results are totally worth it!
Here is a sample Japanese drop set routine for your chest that you may want to try. Check it out:
Japanese Drop Set Chest Routine
- A1: 60 degree incline DB press, 5 x 5***, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: 15 degree incline DB press, 3 x 10-12, 2/1/1/0, 120 seconds rest
***On the fifth set perform a Japanese drop set as described above.
One of the reasons I like this routine so much is it’s completely different from anything you’ve probably tried before. I know when I first read about Japanese drop sets in the scientific literature that it was unlike anything I had ever tried in my training career.
To a certain degree building muscle mass is all about challenging your body with a training stimulus that it hasn’t seen before. If you keep presenting your body with the same type of stimulus over and over then it will be less effective over time.
This doesn’t mean that you should try to “shock your muscles” every single workout by trying something completely new every time you step into the gym. However, periodically trying new training protocols such as Japanese drop sets can be an effective way to break through training plateaus and stimulate growth.
Japanese drop sets are especially effective for the chest because the chest is made up of a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you never perform some moderately-low rep sets for your chest then you are definitely missing out on some potential hypertrophy gains.
If you want to learn more about this superior drop set protocol then I highly recommend the following article:
I am confident it will give you all the information you need to design Japanese drop set routines for not only your chest but your entire body.
Workout #9: Charles Poliquin’s Five To Eight Method
Charles was absolutely obsessed with getting results for his clients. Because of this obsession he experimented with and invented many different training protocols.
Charles eventually came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as the perfect training routine. After all, a training routine is only as effective as the time it takes for you to adapt to it. After about 2-4 weeks even the most effective training routine will stop working for most trainees.
Of course that doesn’t mean that all training programs are created equal. Some are definitely more effective than others. One of the most effective training methods that Charles invented was the five to eight method.
The five to eight method is a modified version of Dante Trudel’s rest-pause training protocol. Dante’s original rest-pause training protocol consists of training to failure 3 times in a row on an exercise with very short rest periods.
For example you might train to failure in the 7-10 rep range, rest 20-30 seconds, train to failure a 2nd time, rest 20-30 seconds and train to failure a 3rd time.
Charles took Dante’s rest-pause training protocol and tweaked it a little bit so his athletes could train for a nice blend of size and strength gains. Charles called his new protocol the 5 to 8 method.
Here is how the 5 to 8 method works:
- Perform a set of five repetitions just shy of muscular failure. The 5th rep should be hard but you will make it. The final rep should be a real grinder but you will make it. Rest 15 seconds.
- Perform one single repetition with the same weight, then rest 15 seconds.
- Perform one single repetition with the same weight, then rest 15 seconds.
- Perform one single repetition with the same weight, then rest 15 seconds.
The basic idea is to perform a set of 5 reps and then perform a few additional singles with the same weight. These additional singles murder the fast-twitch muscle fibers and help you to pack on pounds of functional hypertrophy.
Here is what a 5 t0 8 chest workout might look like. Check it out:
5 To 8 Method Chest Workout
- A1: V-bar chest dips, 3 x 5***, 2/1/X/0, 180 seconds rest
- B1: 45 degree incline DB press, 3 x 8-10, 3/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
***Performed as a 5 to 8 set as described above. After completing the initial five reps you will perform 3 additional repetitions with 15 second rest periods between reps.
Of course you are allowed to train more than just your chest on this training day. You could easily superset these chest exercises with some exercises for your back or biceps to create a Poliquin-style antagonistic body part workout.
You could also perform these chest exercises followed by some work for the rest of your upper body for a more complete upper body workout. The choice is up to you.
I should warn you that this training method is very demanding on the central nervous system. The extra singles performed after your initial 5 reps will be very, very hard. They almost feel like single-rep maxes even though your 5-rep max is on the bar.
I recommend you use this method during a phase of training where you are primarily trying to get stronger. You will still be able to build plenty of muscle mass with this routine. However, the extra stress on your nervous system means that this method should be used as an intensification method.
Don’t be shy – give this routine a shot! I am very confident that you will see results if you dedicate yourself to this routine for your next 3-6 chest workouts.
If you want to learn more about Charles Poliquin’s 5 to 8 method (and some of his other secret training routines for building functional hypertrophy) then check out the following article:
The five to eight method is one of the three routines presented in the article. Of course you are not a bad person if you decide to try out Charles’ other two favourite functional hypertrophy routines.
You are now fully equipped with 9 of the most effective chest hypertrophy training routines of all time! OK, that might be an exaggeration. It’s hard to define what a perfect chest training routine would look like. Still, I am confident that anyone reading this can make AWESOME progress on at least a few of these routines.
If you want more help designing your own chest hypertrophy routines then you might find the following articles helpful:
Of course there are many other articles on my site where I talk about how to build muscle mass. Those 2 articles just stand out as having a lot of valuable information.
This is a chest training article so let’s finish it with a quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man with the greatest chest development of all time:
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck with your strength training journey!
Chad Wesley Smith is one of the brightest minds in the fitness industry today. Chad has competed at the absolute highest levels in three different sports: shot put, powerlifting and strongman....
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