When setting up a workout routine it is important to choose exercises that will work the target muscle through its entire range-of-motion (ROM). Each muscle group has 3 primary working ranges: fully shortened, fully lengthened, and the one most are familiar with, mid-range. Each range has its own unique strength curve, but for simplicity we will just say that the muscle is the weakest at the extremes and strongest in the mid-range.
It is not likely that you will find one single exercise that covers a muscle’s entire range of motion, while also maximizing the strength curve potential of each region. This means it is important to have an arsenal full of exercises that can work the extremes independently of the mid range. Keep in mind, as long as you cover the muscle’s entire ROM within one workout, mission accomplished!
I think it is very important to start any workout with an active warm-up. See my previous post/videos on active warm-ups (here) and apply that to any daily routine. Below I share a complete chest workout, with notes about each exercise to help maximize your efficiency in the gym.
#1 Pec-Dec active warm-up
- See previous post/video (here).
- Use perfect form.
- Use light weight, these are not working sets.
- You should not reach failure on any set.
#2 Flat Barbell Bench Press
- 4 working sets of 6 – 8 reps.
- This compound movement is used to target the high strength mid-range.
- Do 2 – 3 lighter sets to work up to your working weight.
- On the first 3 working sets, stop the set just short of failure. If you are getting less than 5 reps, use a lighter weight.
- On the 4th set use a spotter to help you reach total failure. Use the same weight as the 3rd working set.
- Bench press is an elbow movement that should focus on the pectorals and not on the triceps.
- Focus on horizontal humeral adduction while lifting the weight. Google the term if you don’t know what it is.
#3 Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
- 3 working sets of 6 – 8 reps.
- Set the incline bench at a 30 – 45 degree angle.
- This exercise will be used to fully lengthen the pectorals, so use a weight light enough that allows for a full stretch at the bottom of the movement without risking shoulder injury.
- On the first 2 working sets, stop just short of failure. If you are getting less than 5 reps, use a lighter weight.
- On the 3rd set use a spotter to help you reach total failure. Use the same weight as the 2nd working set.
- Keep the pectorals under tension throughout the entire set. Stop just short of locking-out the elbows and do not allow the dumbbells to touch at the top of the movement.
#4 Weighted Dips on parallel bars
- 3 working sets of 8 – 10 reps.
- If you cannot complete at least 8 reps, use a lighter weight or only use bodyweight.
- Lean forward slightly to move tension from the triceps to the pectorals.
- At the top of the movement physically try to pull the parallel bars together.
- This exercise has a large ROM allowing for a good stretch at the bottom, explosive power through the mid-range, and a large contraction in a fairly shortened position.
#5 Pec-Dec Chest Fly
- 4 working sets of 10 – 12 reps.
- This exercise will be used to work the pectoral to the fully shortened position.
- Do not allow your elbows to go behind your body at the bottom of this movement. The goal of this exercise is not a pectoral stretch, which has already been accomplished; here we need to achieve a fully shortened pectoral under tension.
- This form is the same as that in the active warm-up, however now you will be using a weight heavy enough to do working sets.
- On the first 3 sets, stop just short of failure. If you are getting less than 10 reps with good form, use a lighter weight.
- The 4th and final set should be a drop set to complete failure. Go to failure with the working weight, drop the weight 10 – 15% and go to failure again. Complete 3 weight drops to failure.
- After your last set of #5, hop off of the Pec-Dec and try to do as many body-weight push-ups as possible.
- If you can do more than 10 – 15 you need to increase your workout intensity because your chest should be smoked.
If you want more workouts like this that apply the same basic principles, be sure to checkout our “The Beautiful to the Core Body” [12 week program] here!