Menacing Chest

Dennis James' intensive battle plans for stronger and thicker pecs
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TRAIN FOR MASS

First and foremost, the chest should be trained for mass — let’s say overall size — rather than cuts and detail. Consider other large muscle groups (i.e., back and legs) and it’s evident that the chest is the only one for which full, tight, swollen, spherical mass is more impressive than detailed cuts in individual muscles.

For legs and back, as well as smaller muscle groups, cuts are more important in competition, but the chest serves the unique purpose of bulging boldly far out in front of the body — cantilevering, in fact. It’s predominantly responsible for our three-dimensional effect; the bigger the chest, the more pronounced that effect.

TRAIN FOR STRENGTH

Everyone knows the simple formula, but few are willing to believe it, because it’s too demanding. Nonetheless, here it is: to become your biggest, you must become your strongest. That’s a truism; the stronger the muscle, the heavier you can work it, and the faster and larger it can grow.

A corollary is the more you train for strength, the more durable your muscularity becomes. So, how do you train for strength? Go by the numbers, not the feel. Training must be driven by quantitative, not qualitative, goals. You don’t start a workout thinking you’ll have better aesthetics when you finish, you go into it with the intention of lifting a heavier weight than last time or of doing one more rep. You want to become stronger. Strength is also the most important motivator. Any increase in the weight you’re able to lift is like a shot of adrenaline, allowing you to train even harder, and the harder you train, the stronger you’ll become. And the stronger you become, the harder you’ll want to train. I challenge you to find that kind of motivation in “quality reps.”

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