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Can't get a pump in my chest

Posted by: Marc

I've been working out for three years, and I've made some great gains. I'm pretty happy with the way my arms and shoulders look, but I just can't get my chest to grow. I do a lot of bench pressing (my max. is 320 lbs), but for some reason, I feet most of the work in my shoulders and triceps-I have trouble getting a pump in my chest, and it hardly, ever gets sore from my workouts. Any ideas?

Re: Can't get a pump in my chest

Posted by: Bill

It's hard to say exactly what your problem might be without having the chance to go over this issue with you personally in a gym but here's what I would guess might help you out: try using a wider grip on your bench press-put your index fingers about 34 inches apart on the barbell. This really forces the pectoral muscles into the exercise and takes the strain off the shoulders and triceps somewhat. (Depending on your body type, 34 inches apart may be a bit too wide or not quite wide enough. You may need to make moderate adjustments. For me, it's just right.)

If you're not using a wide enough grip on the bench press, you'll be doing a lot of shoulder and triceps work. That's great if you have big pecs and want to build your shoulders and triceps, but in your case, I would suggest you focus exclusively on doing wide-grip bench pressing. Here's something else you can do to really blast those chest muscles-after you've warmed up and done a few heavy sets of bench pressing, take an even wider grip (36 inches between your index fingers) and do a "light", burnout set of 6-12 repetitions; really work the negative-let the bar down s-l-o-w-1-y, taking a count of up to six seconds. You might have to have a partner lift the weight back up, but lower it with your own strength. I guarantee this will destroy your pecs!

For guys who already have great pecs and would like to add some mass to the front deltoids and triceps, try using a closer grip (26 inches between your index fingers) on most of your bench-press sets.

If you're looking to develop your entire upper body, try to vary your grip on the bench press from having your index fingers 26 inches apart to 30, to 34, and then 36. You can do a set at each width during your workout, or you can do an entire workout with a close grip, then next time use a wider grip and vary it each time. (Of all the chest exercises you can do, wide-grip bench pressing is #1 in my book!)

Here's a simple, but killer, chest routine for you to follow the next time you train your pecs.


Warm-up 2 sets of 12 reps with 135 lbs
Work Sets
8 reps with 185 lbs
6 reps with 225 lbs
4 reps with 255 lbs
2 reps with 300 lbs

When you're doing your heavy work sets, rest two or three minutes between sets. Go fairly slow on the way down (two or three seconds) and press the weight up as fast as you can!

Burnout Set
225 lbs to total failure
(usually between 6 and 12 reps)

On this burnout set, take the weight down super, super slowly-six seconds for each eccentric phase. Once you've reached concentric failure, have a spotter lift the weight for you and then lower it slowly under your own power.

As soon as you finish your last set of bench presses, immediately do just one set of incline dumbbell flyes-use 55 lbs and go to total positive failure-usually between 8 and 12 reps. Go fairly slow on the way up and down-three seconds up and three seconds down on these reps.

That's it! Don't do any more exercises for your chest after this. Just put all your effort into these sets.

Make sure you write me after you try this program and let me know if your pecs don't get so damn sore you can't even touch them!

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