Q: Bench press seems to be the “measure of a man” even today. I’ve always sucked at it, but never really hurt for chest development. I prefer the decline alternative, just like you guys, but I also observe that many military guys have good chest development, many with pushups alone. How do you build a good chest if you suck at bench pressing?
A: Funny you should mention pushups. Steve has found that to be a great exercise to end his chest routine with—and he sucks at bench presses, too. Injuring his shoulder bench pressing powerlifting style in his 20s didn’t help matters. And it still hurts him…
The shorts rests—30 seconds between sets—in 3X or 4X sequences produce a density effect so you get more sarcoplasmic expansion in the muscle fibers. The sarcoplasm is the energy fluid that has to expand due to more endurance demands.
Plus, longer tension time sets also make that happen—like 10 reps with 4 seconds per rep (lift in 1 sec., lower in 3). That’s what we prescribe for every set in a 3X or 4X sequence. So you get 40 seconds of tension time with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
For a 3X or 4X sequence, take your 15-rep max, but only do 10 reps, rest 30 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on, with the last set to all-out failure. It’s a quick way to get loads of muscle growth without stressing your joints on any exercise.
If you work bench presses twice a week, you could do it in 4X style at one workout and then use a heavy pyramid style at your next.
As for modified Pre-Ex, that’s doing an isolation move first in your bodypart routine—for example, do a few sets of machine flyes in 3X or 4X style (as described above), then move to your bench presses, wide-grip dips or whatever BIG exercise you like…
You’ll feel the target muscle much better, a key to stimulating major growth. Plus, the weight will be slightly less than benching first—so you get less joint stress but with a new hypertrophic burst.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
ATTENTION OVER-40 BODYBUILDERS
One of the most interesting read-me pages on Testosterone and other muscle-building hormones we’ve seen is The Truth About Testosterone.
It even talks about a fruit, a specific part, that can up your T naturally. Cranking up your testosterone will not only get you jacked in the gym, but in the bedroom too—not to mention help rip up your midsection as it ignites fat burning. If that interests you, there’s more from our colleague and registered dietician, HERE.