The Ultimate Chest Finisher
Turn a simple single-joint machine pec exercise into a challenging movement that delivers a powerful pump.
By Bill Geiger, MA
The Plan of Attack
Here’s a great way to finish your chest workout and quite literally give it everything you’ve got, leaving nothing in the tank. You’ve already completed heavy sets of chest presses at various angles, so now it’s time for a single-joint isolation exercise that reduces the involvement of the triceps and front delts. The pec-deck machine doesn’t require you to balance any weights; just set the machine for your body type and go. The key here will be how you do each of four sets.
Each Set Differs
Peak-Contraction Holds (Set 2):
At the top of the rep, the point of peak contraction, hold your hands together for a full second, squeezing your inner pecs hard.
Partial Reps (Set 3):
Do a full-range rep, followed by a partial rep that’s only about a quarter to half of the range of motion, bringing the handles in again. Each 1-1/2 reps counts as a single rep. The inner pecs get a lot more focus using this method.
Burn-outs (Set 4):
Do a normal set to 10; then do as many quarter/half-reps as you can get, and keep going until you can’t possibly do another. That may be 20-25 partials, but you’ll feel a tremendous burn.
Adjust the seat so that your feet are flat on the floor. When you grasp the handles, be sure to keep your hands, elbows and shoulders in the same horizontal plane. If your hands are above or below your shoulders, move them up/down or adjust the seat.
Feel the Burn
1) Choose a weight with which you can do about 12 reps and do your first set as you normally would. You should reach muscle failure at about 12 reps.
2) After a rest period do your second set in which you hold the peak contraction for a full second. You should be able to do 10-12 reps. (Lower the weight by a plate if you can’t do 10 reps.)
3) After another rest period do your third set; here you’ll alternate full-range reps with quarter/half-reps. Each full and partial constitutes a single rep. Do 10-12, or as many as you can.
4) Your last set starts like your first set, doing 10-12 standards reps which should take you very close to muscle failure. Just because you’re at full-range failure, that doesn’t mean you can’t do partials. Do as many as you can, and then do 5-10 more. Aim for 20-25 short-range reps and the full-range reps, and continue until you can’t do any more partials.
Focus On Inner Pecs
A single exercise that includes three distinct variations, all of which place added stress on the inner-pec fibers, is a great way to break from your standard straight-sets training. The inner chest gets targeted on this movement as your hands come together, and all three variations place added emphasis on this portion of the range of motion. Even when you reach failure on the last set, you go into partials, doing as many as you possibly can, so you’re really pushing your pecs beyond failure.
Keep Elbows Up
• Some bodybuilders have a tendency to drop their elbows as they fatigue, but this practice makes the exercise less efficient. Keep your elbows up. If you’re looking back at yourself in a mirror, your shoulders, elbows and hands should remain in the same horizontal plane throughout the set.
Take It to the Top
• Don’t limit your results by failing to go to the point where your hands meet. That’s where the inner pecs are working hardest.
• Use a controlled speed with good form, but on your very last set you can increase your tempo slightly as you fatigue to help yourself keep going.