Top-Down Chest Training

down chest training

Ask any top bodybuilder what area of his chest he works to stimulate most, and barring a few exceptions, they will all answer in the same manner: Upper chest! The upper pectoral shelf was made legendary by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his bodybuilding heyday, and not a whole lot has changed since then.

Arnold could balance a full glass of water on his upper pectorals, and bodybuilders have been trying for years to match that feat! Here is a training style which emphasizes the upper pectorals.

Incline bench press

For this particular movement, you will be challenging yourself to bring the barbell down to a point at the very top of your chest. Remember that you’re working from the top of the chest down, so you will need to start at the top of the chest. Flex the pectorals at the top of each repetition as you press the weight out. Use a lighter weight which allows you to lower the weight all the way down to a point about an inch above the chest, and an inch below the neck. Repetitions should be slow and focused.

Incline dumbbell press

Immediately move to the incline dumbbell press, done in standard form. You can’t control where the dumbbells come down due to the fact you are using independent arms on two different dumbbells, but you can work to use as much weight as humanly possible. If your repetitions don’t go all the way down, you shouldn’t panic. You’ve covered that base with the last exercises and you will again with the next movement. For now, you just want to build mass by using heavy weight in the 6 to 8 repetition range for incline dumbbell presses.

Incline dumbbell flyes

Now that you’ve lifted heavy, it’s time to return to a bit of control with your movements. Select a weight that will allow you to pause for just under a full second at the lowest point of contraction when you lower the weight to the extended position. Make your repetitions slow and deliberate, and don’t attempt to go too heavy. You’re trying to build muscle, not break any silly records regarding incline flye weight being used. Be smart, safe, and you’ll see the upper pectorals and shoulder/pectoral tie-ins improve dramatically.

Flat dumbbell presses

It’s time to go heavy again, this time targeting your middle chest. Knock out 4 to 6 sets of very heavy flat dumbbell presses. Use a spotter cupping your elbows if at all possible. Repetition range should be in the 6 to 10 range using heavy weight and 75 to 80% range of motion. No need to go all the way down!

Decline bench press

Finally it’s time to hit the bottom portion of your chest. You’ve torched the top section with three movements. You’ve tortured the middle section with flat presses. Now you should use a decline movement. Bench press with a 15 to 18 degree incline is probably the safest movement out there in terms of controlling the weight (with or without a spotter) at the end of your workout when control may be an issue. Use moderate weight – don’t go too heavy! You’ll need to bring the barbell down to the lowest point on the pectorals possible, around the nipple area. Make every repetition slow and focused.

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