FLEX: What changes have you made in your chest training to improve for Nationals?
KJ: The main thing that goes through my mind during chest training is actually engaging my chest. In the past, I used to think that just going heavy was all I needed to do to get a bigger chest. I have very strong delts and triceps, and sometimes they can take over the exercise. I don’t train as heavy as I used too—instead I try to emphasize the contraction in the pecs a little more than I would with other muscle groups. By focusing on the contraction of the chest and really “squeezing” hard with every rep, I feel my chest has vastly improved.
FLEX: What are some of your favorite chest exercises to put on size, and what are your set and rep ranges?
KJ: My all-time favorite chest exercises are the barbell incline and the flat dumbbell press. I also include a variety of Hammer Strength machines. Sets stay in the 3–4 range, and the lowest I go is 8 reps. I stick with about five exercises.
FLEX: As a former football player [Jordan played football, basketball, and baseball at Millikin University in Decatur, IL], you mentioned you don’t bench press as much, and focus on other exercises to develop your chest.
KJ: It was very difficult to leave the bench press behind after doing it for so many years. I just wasn’t used to the variety we have in bodybuilding. In school we had strength coaches, but they emphasized the core lifts—like benching—a lot more. I don’t go very heavy because then it turns into an ego thing and I’m not interested in moving weight. I’m focusing on maximizing muscle contraction of the chest. If it were all about the weights, then power-lifters would have larger chests than bodybuilders, which they don’t.
FLEX: Are cable crossovers and flyes necessary for chest development? Many bodybuilders regard them as a shaping exercise.
KJ: Cable crossovers are great for chest development. I like to use them at the end of a session, to pump as much blood into my chest as possible to get that full feeling. I also use flat and incline dumbbell flyes. The key to these movements is to not use too much weight—I think that’s why people don’t get enough out of them.
FLEX: Many trainers recommend doing primary movements such as dumbbell bench presses first, when they’re fresh. What’s your take on exercise selection?
KJ: I usually pre-exhaust with machine flyes to get warmed up and get some blood in the muscle before I tackle the big-boy exercises. It’s important to use those as a warm-up and not make yourself too tired before you move on to your big movements. Much like most guys will do some leg extensions first to warm up their quads before squats, I do the same thing first with chest—I always warm up with an isolation exercise first.
Here is Kevin's detailed National Champion chest workout: