The 1990s are correctly regarded as the second golden era of bodybuilding after the mid-’70s. It was the generation that came of age idolizing Schwarzenegger and memorizing Pumping Iron, and Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Flex Wheeler and a dozen other legends took physiques to new standards of size and striations. Curiously, though, backs, legs and arms swelled to new dimensions, but chests lagged behind. In fact, the quintet on our list would surely fare the worst in a contest against the other four decades. In fairness, we relegated Haney to the ’80s and Coleman to the 2000s, although both won Sandows in the ’90s.
Still, the definitive ’90s bodybuilder, Dorian Yates, did not possess a particularly great chest, and there’s no disputing that pecs did not participate in the quantum leap forward of other body parts in these years of baggy pants and Otomix shoes. Perhaps it had more to do with genetic strengths, but we can also see these chest training changes taking form in the ’90s:
- PLATE-LOADED MACHINES Hammer Strength and similar pressing machines that more closely resembled free weights grew in popularity.
- MECHANICAL FLYES Seated flye machines and more adjustable pec decks began appearing in gyms.
- LOWER VOLUME Following Yates’ lead, many bodybuilders increased intensity but reduced workout volume.
- LOWER FREQUENCY Again following Yates’ lead, during the late ’90s, training body parts just once per week grew in popularity. Typically, this meant chest got its own workout.