Q: Incredible interview with [Mr. America] Doug Brignole in the Power-Density e-book. So cool that he has studied kinesiology and physiology and determined the number-one best exercise for each muscle. He said decline dumbbell presses are the best chest exercise for overall mass. Does he ever use barbell declines or Hammer-machine decline presses, which bring your hands from a wide stretch to close at the top for a better pec contraction? Or what about dips?
A: Now in his mid-50s—and looking better than ever—Doug is one smart bodybuilder with loads of experience. And his fascination with finding the best chest exercise is right up our alley (we made our Ultimate Exercise choices in The Ultimate Mass Workout).
His decline dumbbell press pick for pecs is right on as far as we’re concerned. That exercise even trains the so-called upper-chest, as shown in EMG studies.
Doug prefers dumbbells over a bar for declines because, as he says in the Power-Density 2.0 e-book interview,
One of the criteria I use is that the movement must be 100 percent comfortable and natural, without any joint distortion. That way all of my effort goes directly to the target muscle.
Efficient muscle building—no waste. We like that, plus…
He feels a bar can impinge the shoulder joint, making it somewhat unnatural, or at least less natural than dumbbells, which allow for more freedom of movement.
As for Hammer-machine decline presses,
The movement is correct (for the most part), but the resistance curve is not quite ideal. In fact, it is too light in the stretch position, and too heavy at the [top] contracted position. That’s backward, ideally speaking.
That’s what we found in our research and what led us to X-Rep partials in the semi-stretch position. The stretch or near-stretch is the KEY area on the stroke for optimal fiber activation (there’s more on that in The Ultimate Mass Workout). So heavy stretch to lighter contraction…
However, DB declines are the most natural, present less risk than dips or a bar, and have a better resistance curve than the Hammer machine.
Very cool stuff to get you buff. [He I.D.s the best exercise for each muscle in his Super-TORQ program outlined in Power-Density Mass Workout 2.0].
For now, try the decline dumbbell press for more detail and mass on your chest.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson