A while back we gave you a bulk-up routine designed to add power, mass and strength using big weights and low reps. (See Power and Bulk Routine). Now, we have a routine that will define and cut up that mass and bulk that you worked hard to gain. However, this routine has a twist to it. We are going to specialize on building up your bench press poundage with a special chest routine that will blast you through any bench press plateau that you might be experiencing. Most bodybuilders are always interested in improving their bench press and this is a good time to do it. The idea is that you will be blitzing and bombing your chest exercises while using lighter weights and more reps on your other body parts in order to define and cut up these areas. Throw in a few sessions of cardio per week and the mix is complete.
Let’s get started!
This is a 12 week routine where you will be weight training 5 days per week with 30 minutes of cardio at least 2 times per week and ideally 3 times per week. Cardio can be done at the end of your workout or on your off days. You will be doing 2 days of chest work per week with a special set and rep scheme that we will discuss in a moment. Your other body parts will be done on the remaining 3 days with a 3-4 set x 12 rep schedule.
Train your abs 2-3 times per week either with cardio on your rest days or at the beginning of your weekend as part of a warmup. This all important warmup should consist of some light cardio, ab work, and after light sets for the area you are going to work. Feel free to take extra rest days if you require them.
Monday – Chest (See chart below for set & rep details)
- Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Weighted Dips
- Close Grip Bench Press
Tuesday – Back
- Barbell Rows – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Pull-Ups – 3 sets x As many reps as possible
- or Lat Machine Pulldowns – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Dumbbell Pullover – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Standing Straight Arm Pulldowns
(on lat machine) – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Shrugs – 3 sets x 12 reps
Wednesday – Rest day or 30 minutes of Cardio plus ab work.
Thursday – Chest
- Same as Monday
Friday – Legs and Forearms
- Squat or Leg Press – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Slide (facing in on the hack squat machine) – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Lying Leg Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Calf Raise – 3 sets x 15 reps
- Forearm Dumbbell Curl (up grip) – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Forearm Dumbbell Curl (down grip) – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Note: The Forearm Curls are to be done between sets of Leg Curls and Calf Raises. This is the staggered sets principal.
Saturday – Shoulders/Arms/Deadlift
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Seated Barbell Press – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Dumbbell Side Laterals – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Preacher Curl – 3 sets x 12 reps
Note: I put the Deadlift on this day because I did not want it to drain too much energy from your other back exercises. If you prefer, you could do the deadlift on back days in place of the shrug. The shrug could them replace the deadlift on this day, as some people like to practice the shrug with shoulder work. Different strokes for different folks!
For your non-chest days start with 3 sets for each exercise and after 6 weeks switch to 4 sets of each exercise for the remaining 6 weeks. Keep your rest periods between sets short in order to keep your heart rate up and to burn more calories. Since you are at an advanced level you can adjust this program to suit your needs. Perhaps you may want to change some of the exercises or the order in which they are done. If you like to do super-sets, add them where appropriate. Maybe you don’t want to blast your bench press with a power program at this time and would rather follow a chest routine more in line with the rest of the program such as doing the recommended chest exercises doing 3-4 sets and 12 reps with lighter weights. Throw in some lying flys or maybe some cable work to bring out definition and cuts. Cut chest back to one day per week and do cardio and abs on what would have been your second chest day. You will note that there are no direct tricep exercises. This is because the triceps are worked indirectly pretty heavily on chest days especially with Close Grip Bench Presses. If you want to work the triceps directly, do one or two light moves on Arm day. Just be sure your triceps are fully recovered for the heavy chest draining days when the triceps play a big part in bench pressing moves.
As far as diet is concerned you need to cut back from your power and bulk eating by at least 500 calories per day while still eating 5 smaller meals a day. Remember to keep your protein high with at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Increase your fruits and vegetables to help with increased energy needs and be sure to eat immediately after working out with a lot of protein and simple and complex carbs to feed hungry muscles and replace glucose supplies.
Now for your power bench press and chest routine that will add big pounds to your bench and give you armor plated pecs!
Your first chest day (Monday) will be your heavy day and your second chest day (Thursday) will be your light day where you will do more reps and use less weight. Rest a full 3 minutes between each set and be sure to warm up with general light cardio and 2 sets of light bench presses before you start your actual working sets. This will get the blood flowing and warm your shoulders and pecs.
Try to add poundage on your heavy days every other week, even it is only 3 to 5 pounds. Don’t strain but always make a big effort to push more weight at this time even though ultimately you must progress at your own pace. Be confident that you will get stronger in the bench and add more muscle mass to your chest at the end of this 12 week program.
If you are an experienced bodybuilder and would like to kick up the intensity a notch or two, try using negatives every other week after the first 4 weeks. On your heavy day (Monday), add a fourth set of 3 heavy negative reps to each exercise in the chest routine. Do only one set of negatives per exercise and do this only every other week on your heavy day. Remember this is an advanced training technique and is only to be used by experienced body builders who can handle the additional stress. Also, it is very important to have a spotter or training partner who is capable and strong enough to give you the necessary assistance with these chest exercises and especially when you are doing heavy negatives.
There you have it. Be diligent and try not to miss any workouts. If you do, get back on track and pick up where you left off. 12 weeks from now you should be much improved in the bench and your overall look will be leaner and more defined. Good luck.…