If you weren’t wearing a tank top, your shirt was buttoned low, if at all. And thus, from the hirsute Burt Reynolds to the mountainous Dolly Parton, if one bodypart defined the ’70s, it was the chest. In conjunction with Pumping Iron and its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the disco decade was also the golden era of bodybuilding, shepherding weights from dusky dungeons to mainstream spas. And, again, chests dominated. How great were pecs then? You could argue that our top four pec men from the ’70s are the top four of all-time. Here’s how they did it:
- FREE WEIGHTS: There were few machines for chest, so barbells, dumbbells and dipping bars were the principal tools.
- BARBELL PRESSES: Flat and incline barbell presses were generally emphasized first in routines and pyramided.
- VOLUME, VOLUME, VOLUME: Most trainers did between16 and 24 sets for chest.
- HIGH FREQUENCY: Chest, like other major bodyparts,was typically trained two or three times weekly
TOP 5 CHESTS of the 1970's:
5. SERGIO OLIVA: When he won three Mr. Olympias(1967–69), chest was not one of The Myth’s strong points, and yet, at his biggest —at the ’72 Mr. Olympia, when dueling Schwarzenegger — the Cuban legend crunched out a pectacular display of mass.
4. SERGE NUBRET: He sometimes did whole workouts of nothing but moderate-rep bench presses. If that sounds like the meathead route to ruined aesthetics, know that Nubret, when he was the runner-up in the ’73 Olympia, had arguably the most artfully carved pecs of all-time.
1. FRANCO COLUMBU: The most remarkable thing about Columbu’s pecs was the cleft between the upper and lower sections, which made it seem as if his outrageously developed upper pecs were completely different muscles (they’re not). The second most remarkable thing was their dimensions from side to side and top to bottom. The Sardinian stood only 5'5", but his pecs would’ve been at home on 6'5" Ferrigno. The breadth of Columbu’s pecs was a genetic gift aided by his wide clavicles, but their thickness came from thousands of sets on flat and incline benches. At under 200 pounds, the former powerlifter and two-time Mr. O (1976, 1981) bench pressed 525, and his frequent chest workouts emphasized the barbell basics. He credits barbell bench presses and barbell incline presses for building what may have been the best chest ever.