Anyone who has spent a few years in the gym can probably show some pectoral development. However, to earn that massive set of Arnold-like pecs, you have to go further, train harder and stay more focused than the rest. Here are six key steps to developing a successful pec strategy.1. Stay Focused
Some guys train hard and disciplined, but decide to take a month or two off during summer. Then they come back to the gym and realize they’ve lost their gains, so they train their asses off again, until that Christmas party and the new girlfriend derails them for another couple of months. Then they come back, realize they’re back to square one and they’re off for another cycle of training and subsequent breaks. That won’t cut it. Consistency is a requirement for bodybuilding success, and pec training certainly is no exception. You need to stay focused on your long-term goals, come hell or high water (or summer, or a hot new girlfriend, or whatever.)
A good trick for staying on track is to review your training log every 3 months and make note of the poundages/reps you do on a separate sheet. Next, measure your flexed chest and make a note of the exact number. If you’re serious, a Polaroid snapshot can be helpful too. Why not a monthly log review? That would be too frequent – a bad day or a cold could jumble the numbers. However, with a 3-month snapshot you get a more reliable status report on how you’re progressing. This serves the dual purpose of reminding you of your long-term goals and providing valuable feedback on whether your training works or not. If you’ve added 30 lbs to your regular 8-rep bench press and you’ve gained an inch, you’re doing something right and will think twice about deviating from course. On the flip side of the coin, if you’re lifting the same weights and have the same measurements as 3 months ago, it’s time to take a good look at what isn’t working. Here you can go back and see what worked in !the past, when you DID make gains.2. Avoid Injuries
Injuries can throw the best and most well planned strategies right out the window in a matter of seconds. Rip a shoulder joint and see how much benching you’ll do in the following 6-12 months, and let’s not even talk about the atrophy you’ll have to make up for. Let’s face it: balls-to-the-wall, Hardcore training is one thing, taking unnecessary risks to flatter ones ego is another. Sure, as a serious bodybuilder you have to walk the line of insanity on a daily basis, but your objective should always be to stimulate your muscles as much as possible while subjecting them to as little risk of injury as possible.
That doesn’t mean training like a wimp. You still need to push yourself out of the comfort zone each and every workout, and you still need to use heavy enough weights to trigger growth. However, there are certain steps you can take to decrease the risk. First off, don’t skimp on the warm-up. You need 10 minutes on a treadmill, bike or stepper to get your blood flowing and get the body ready. Secondly, do 2 light sets and stretch thoroughly before your first working set. Thirdly, avoid one-rep max benching. If you’re already big, you don’t need to prove anything – just go about your business of getting even bigger by keeping your reps in the 6 to 10 rep-range, occasionally going perhaps as low as 4 reps without cheating. Last but not least, be attentive to strange joint pains. Muscle pain is what bodybuilders thrive on, but a shooting pain where the muscle ties in with the bone is a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored. Remember: Resting for a week now, is better than spending !months waiting for a full-blown injury to heal.3. Trigger Growth
As the late Mike Mentzer explained in his books about Heavy Duty, the key to effective weight training is to trigger growth without draining the energy needed for recovery. Granted, his high intensity principles may not be for everyone, but it is important to recognize the fundamental truth in what he said. You go to the gym because you want results, not for the joy of spending hours wearing down gym equipment. In a nutshell, you want to do fewer and more intense sets.
In a perfect world you can get adequate stimulation with a single set of the kind of heavy, explosive load that makes the fast-twitch fibers jolt. In reality, 2 sets are more likely to do the trick. Doing 3,4 or even 5 sets should be pointless if you did the job right in the first 2 sets. If you didn’t manage to trigger growth when the muscle was fresh, what makes you think you’ll achieve it now that you’ve banged out 4 sets and are starting a fifth? Worse yet, knowing in the back of your head that you have a ton of sets ahead of you may unconsciously cause you to hold back during the first, truly crucial sets.4. Review Your Nutritional Intake
As a serious bodybuilder, you eat plenty of protein, take all your daily vitamins and probably have a vast array of supplements lined up on your kitchen counter.
But do you get enough carbs to fuel your brutal workouts? Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy, and if you run low before the end of your workout not even the steeliest determination can keep you going at full strength.
To ensure a reliable supply of carbs, make sure to get at least 100 grams of complex carbs 60-90 minutes before your workout, preferably with some protein and fiber. Simple sugars are only good for immediate post-workout consumption (not pre-workout, as some claim) so go for complex carbs as found in parboiled rice, beans, oatmeal, thick pasta and rough bread. Complex carbs will dissolve slowly and keep your blood sugar high and even, keeping you nicely powered throughout the workout.5. Get Enough Rest
Most growth occurs at home, in bed. Your body releases respectable bursts of natural growth hormone while you’re happily snoring away, repairing the damage you incurred while in the gym earlier that day. Getting sufficient sleep means giving the body the time it needs to grow. It only makes sense to help your body accomplish your common goal, so make it a priority to get at least 8 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. Many bodybuilding pros take 60-90 minute naps during the day to get further benefit of sleep. This may not be practical for the rest of us, but we can at least lock in our good night’s sleep.
To ensure restful sleep, avoid caffeine and any type of ephedrine-based fat burner late in the afternoon. Avoid alcohol as well, as it drastically cuts the quality of sleep. If you have thin walls, live in the city or have a neighbor with a love for very early lawn mowing, earplugs can be a good investment. Another good habit is to have a pure-protein drink right before hitting the sack. Since protein does not trigger a release of insulin it won’t make you store fat, but the protein will further help your body rebuild itself through the night.6. Visualize Progress
The importance of the mental game cannot be overstated. Arnold would routinely stand in front of the mirror and visualize his biceps growing like mountain peaks. Evidence suggests it helped him stay on track quite nicely. For pecs, you can apply similar techniques. Stand in front of the mirror and flex and relax your pecs, alternating and simultaneously, while mentally projecting the image of your pecs getting thicker, broader and with deeper cuts. If you’re competing, this exercise gives you the added advantage of better muscle control while posing.
About the Author:
|Dane Fletcher is the world's foremost training authority. He writes exclusively for GetAnabolics.com, a leading online provider of Bodybuilding Supplements. For more information, please visit http://www.GetAnabolics.com.|
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