Q: I’m using the Basic Workout in the X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book with great success. Using the single best Ultimate Exercise for each bodypart is just what I need because I’m short on time. Gains are excellent, but I have a problem is with chest. I use decline presses, but I can’t feel my pecs at all on the heavy pyramid. I don’t feel my chest working till the drop set I do last, and I really want to get more muscle size. Any suggestions?
A: It sounds like you have low neuromuscular efficiency, or nerve force, in your pectoral muscles. When you do a big compound exercise for a bodypart with low nerve response, the ancillary muscles take over, so it can be tough to build more muscle size. We would guess you’re feeling decline presses in your triceps and/or front delts on the power pyramid—but there is a solution…
Don’t chuck the exercise just yet. Instead use a version of the postactivation technique. After your two progressively heavier warmup sets on the declines, move to a pec deck or cable crossover machine. Do one slow-controlled set of pec deck flyes, crossovers, or cable flyes…
Don’t take the set to failure with a heavy weight. Pick a poundage that allows around 15 slow, controlled reps, with just bit of a burn at the end. You don’t want to fatigue the pecs, only flush them with some blood and heighten nerve force. Isolating the muscle as much as possible with continuous tension does that big time.
After that, rest for at least two minutes, then hit your pecs with decline presses. You should feel a world of difference because now your chest is fully “awake.”
You can use that postactivation warmup-wakeup for any bodypart. For example, prior to stiff-legged deadlifts, we sometimes do one set of light, controlled leg curls for 10 to 15 reps. For triceps it would be pushdowns, focusing on the mind-muscle connection. Pro bodybuilder and former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman used to use higher-rep leg extensions before he moved to squats.
Remember, more muscle innervation equals more muscle size detonation.
[Note: The postactivation technique is used on work sets instead of warmups in the High-Def Workout listed in X-treme Lean. It’s ideal for growth hormone release and optimal muscle-fiber activation.]
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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