The Complete Arnold: Chest

Arnold Schwarzenegger answers your questions on training, nutrition, and intensity.
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QUESTION

Your signature body part was your chest. What exactly did you do, outside of the ordinary, to fully develop your pecs?

ANSWER

My pecs, unlike my calves, were a good body part for me, genetically. But I still had to work on them. Let me focus on three particular exercises: bench presses, dips, and dumbbell flyes. Everyone knows how to do a basic bench press. If your chest is a weakness, or if you’ve hit a plateau in your chest development, there are ways to press that emphasize the pecs more. You can do this by pressing through a shorter range of motion. When you do a full range-of- motion bench, the triceps are called on at the top of the rep to lock out the elbows, and your pec muscles are less involved than during the rest of the motion. The solution is to do half or three-quarter reps, where you press up but stop well short of locking out the elbows before lowering the weight back to your chest. This keeps all the tension on the pecs and you don’t waste energy by locking out your elbows.

Dips are another exercise that people don’t seem to use for chest—most use it as a triceps move. But I’ve always felt that dips really flush the whole pectoral area and are great for building the lower pecs to give you that impressive, deep muscular ridge that separates the pecs from the abs. To build maximum size, you should definitely do weighted dips (I used to hang an 80-pound dumbbell from my weight belt and do sets of 15 reps). Make sure you go all the way down until you feel a good stretch in your chest for each rep, leaning your torso forward and keeping your knees back, and don’t feel as though you have to lock out your elbows at the top. As for dumbbell flyes, don’t stick to light weights. Many people assume that flye moves must be done with light weight. Why? How will you add size using 25-pound dumbbells? Pick up something heavier. You’ll be surprised at how much weight you can handle. I used to start of with 65-pound dumbbells for my fIrst set of 15 reps, then progress to 75s, then 85s, still keeping my reps between 10 and 15.

The key is to push yourself, even on exercises that are widely regarded as “sculpting” moves. - FLEX

Click HERE for THE COMPLETE ARNOLD files.

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