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Short Circuits Part. 2: Chest

Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By Mike Berg | Oct 28, 2008

Do you want to maximize your size and definition, but don't have the luxury to spend hours training? Use any of these three powerful 20-minute pec-focused circuit-training workouts when time is of the essence.

We can probably all agree that the old proverb, "Patience is a virtue," has merit. But that doesn't mean we always have to live by it.

Take, for instance, building a bigger, stronger chest. You can spend 40 minutes to an hour dutifully training it, knowing that such dedication over time should yield impressive results. Or, you can slam your pecs hard for 20 minutes once or twice a week, spending less time toiling and more time getting on with the rest of your life '" and best yet, without giving up your goal of maximizing your pectoral development.

The following three circuit workouts pack all the benefits of a longer, drawn out training session into a mere 20 minutes. Two of them can be even done at home, saving additional travel time and hassle. Just keep in mind, to complete the routines in that tight window, you'll want to employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/three-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than 30 seconds between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the time it takes to switch positions and/or weights for the next movement.

Using these chest workouts, you can save your patience for other endeavors. It should come in handy when sitting in traffic, listening to your boss drone on in a meeting, or '" God forbid '" if you're a Cubs fan waiting for a World Series title.

Workout Circuit #1: Dumbbells
Exercise                                                          Reps
Incline Dumbbell Flye                                      15, 12, 10       
Incline Dumbbell Press                                     15, 12, 10
Dumbbell Flat-Bench Press                               12, 10, 8
Dumbbell Pullover                                            12, 10, 8
Bench Dip                                                        10, 10, 10

Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through.

The math: 164 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 984 seconds, or about 16 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second circuit and second and third circuit, totals 17 and a half minutes, leaving 2 and a half minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Note: It will add a few minutes to the session, but if you prefer, you can instead break this workout up into a superset and tri-set, first doing the incline flye and press back-to-back three times through, then the flat-bench press, pullover and bench dip back-to-back-to-back three times through. Reconfiguring the workout in this manner eliminates the need to adjust your bench mid-set from the incline to the flat setting, but it does add rest time, as you should rest 30 seconds between each superset and tri-set.

Workout #2: Dumbbells and Barbells
Exercise                                                          Reps
Flat-Bench Barbell Press                                  15, 12, 10
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye                                12, 10, 8
Incline Barbell Press                                         12, 10, 8
Incline Dumbbell Flye                                        12, 10, 8
Push-Up                                                           12, 12, 12

Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. Use a very light weight for a warm up on your first set of flat-bench presses. For safety, have a spotter on hand during both pressing exercises.

The math: 163 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 978 seconds, or about 16 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second and second and third circuits, totals about 17 and a half minutes, leaving 2 and a half minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Note: We list 12 reps for the push-up, but if you really want to tax yourself to the limit, go to failure on each set. Because of pectoral fatigue, you may need to drop your pressing and flye weights each subsequent circuit (instead of the standard pyramid-up scheme), but going to failure on push-ups will help ensure you've worked every muscle fiber in your chest thoroughly.

Workout #3: Machines
Exercise                                                          Reps
Seated Machine Lateral Raise                           15, 12, 10, 8
Seated Machine Press                                      10, 10, 8, 8
Reverse-Pec Deck Flye                                    12, 12, 10, 8
Reverse Cable Crossover                                 12, 12, 10, 8

Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.

The math: 165 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 990 seconds, or 16 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 18 minutes, leaving 2 minutes for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.

Note: Because you're using machines and can switch weight effortlessly from set to set, take advantage by pushing yourself '" select challenging weights, and if you fail mid-set, simply drop the weight by 10% or so and complete the prescribed reps. Choosing heavy enough weights to start each set that you need to drop mid-set will add an extra dimension of intensity to your session.


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Disclaimer: The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.

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