Your Workouts Reviewed: High Volume Chest Training

Chest yw_rotator

Everyone’s got a workout of their own—their “go-to” routine. But is your routine good enough? We asked our Men’s Fitness Facebook friends if they had a killer routine to share and subject to the scrutiny of our readers. The big catch? Our team of training experts also review it, critique it and tweak it if necessary.

Workout Submission

Spencer Gull: Men’s Fitness Facebook Friend

“I’m a long-time athlete having played hockey, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse. I like building up the explosiveness and performance of the muscle while still training for size and strength.

My workouts consist of higher reps and more drop sets and super sets. I never do the same workout, because it makes going to the gym interesting. This is my chest workout and it usually takes me close to 80 minutes.”

Warm Up

30-50 push ups, 2-3 sets 

Exercise 1:

Incline Dumbbell Press
3 sets, 4-6 reps
Drop set for 3 different weights aiming for 8-10, 12-15, 15-20 reps.

Exercise 2:

Decline Barbell press
3 sets, 4-6 reps
Drop set 8-12 reps then superset with decline hammer press aiming for 12-15 reps.

Exercise 3:

Dumbbell Press
3 sets, 6-8 reps

Exercise 4:

Decline cable flyes
3 sets, 12-15 reps

Exercise 5:

Incline Cable flyes
3 sets, 12-15 reps

Expert Assessment

Dan Trink C.S.C.S., CPT is the Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC. Check out Trink’s website: Follow Trink on Twitter: @TrinkFitness.

Pros: Spencer, some of your theories on weight training are absolutely correct. Feeling the contraction (technically known as the mind-muscle connection) has been shown to be a factor in increasing muscle size and strength. Drops sets are an effective tool for training hypertrophy (gaining mass) as they increase the volume (total work) and metabolic distress within the muscle. I like that you are starting your workouts with lower rep sets and doing the higher rep work at the end. You also seem to grasp the concept of doing the most demanding exercises first (in this case the incline and decline press) and the technically less demanding flyes at the end. That’s solid programming.

Cons: Drop sets should really be used sparingly as they are very demanding on your nervous system. Try going with just one in the final set of your first one or two exercises. You currently have 5 exercises, 12 sets and 6 drop sets for one muscle group — that much volume doesn’t leave room for a lot of intensity in your training program and may be difficult to recover from. 80 minutes is also a fairly long workout, especially if you are just focusing on chest. Either tighten things up by reducing the number of exercises or think about including a secondary muscle group in this workout

Overall: While some of your thoughts make sense, some are from the land of “bro-science” and just aren’t backed up by research or used by the strongest guys in the gym. Throwing in a superset here, changing a movement there, while exciting, makes it very tough to monitor and determine progress. And trying to build mass and endurance in every workout is not the most effective way to do either. Choose one goal (size, strength, power, work capacity) and go after it with everything you have for 4 weeks. Then reassess where you are and go after another goal for the next 4 weeks. If you keep trying to chase every strength quality you probably wont catch any.

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