In Pursuit of Perfect Pecs
Long-time IFBB pro and 212 competitor Stan McQuay chases the aesthetic bodybuilding ideal with zeal — here, he takes “MuscleMag” through his incline-heavy chest routine.
By Michael Berg, NSCA-CPT
Is there any room in bodybuilding for aesthetics? If you took a sampling of today’s IFBB pro events, you may be inclined to think not. The era of the 240-plus pound behemoth is in, while the golden era of Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Lee Haney, and Lee Labrada is long gone.
Or is it?
In 2007, recognizing an outnumbered yet fervent contingent of the fan base yearning for throwback physiques and acknowledging the need for a modicum of mainstream appeal, the IFBB introduced the 202-pound division, later to become the 212 class. Finally, guys like David Henry, James “Flex” Lewis, Kevin English and Stan McQuay had a stage all their own.
Seven years later, the Olympia has held six weight-limit contests, and they’ve become a more common addition to the mid-tier IFBB-calendar events as well. It’s what drew McQuay back into the competitive fray this past February after a three-year absence from the stage, at the inaugural Arnold Classic 212, where he notched a ninth-place finish.
McQuay — who had been following a gymnastics- and bodyweight-based regimen for two years prior — embraced a reignited passion for the heavy iron. He bunkered down at home, doing his training at cavernous Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth, California, a sun-soaked enclave on the northwest fringe of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, in the months leading up to the show. That’s where MuscleMag caught up to him, tailing him during a particularly hard-charging chest workout.
First on the docket on this day — his early morning personal training clients and some paperwork related to his recently launched venture with former NPC judge Erik Mara, Physique Inc., a business aimed at helping competitors with their training, diet and marketing efforts.
Throughout his 7 a.m. session, McQuay multitasks, walking his client through her paces while warming himself up with push-ups, dumbbell raises to the front, side and rear, and a barrage of weighted arm rotations to lubricate his rotator cuffs.
To him, that warm-up is essential. “Knock on wood, I’ve never had an injury in all my years of training,” he says. “Before bodybuilding, I was a martial artist, and that’s all about warm-up and stretching. I also studied kinesiology in college, so I understand the importance of getting the body ready.”
By the time the clock strikes 8 a.m., McQuay’s ready to roll into his opening chest salvo, the incline dumbbell press. Here’s how he gets the most out of that exercise and the rest of the moves that make up his routine.