Explosive Growth: The 3 Week Chest Specialization Workout Program

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Your plan to build a big barrel chest has to be as potent as the effort itself. You must jettison the idea that doing the same thing that thousands of others are doing will provide different results for you.

I’ve seen it too many times. Let’s call him Jim.

Jim starts out with a fire in his belly to build a chest that can’t be missed as he enters a room. For a while he’s full of excitement as the squirts of dopamine rush his brain as he visualizes himself training and putting in the work required to achieve his goal.

And then three years later we see Jim again. This time, even though motivation spits from his mouth, reality doesn’t prove that much progress has been made.

In the midst of his bravado, Jim choose to trek the path that was already paved.

Three sets of ten, some push ups and a few cable flyes for good measure was his game plan to a big chest. Initially, sophomore gains were realized. But after that, progress stalled – and Jim did nothing to bust through the rut. He paid no attention to progression, volume, or specialization.

There’s probably millions of people who do the same thing, but expect a different result.

Is your game plan for a bigger chest of a similar ilk? If so, don’t be surprised if your chest development hasn’t improved over the years.

The point?

Don’t be like Jim.

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But if you are like Lawrence Osborne you probably have the non-conformist spirit it takes to build a show-stopping chest. Lawrence is a renegade novelist who has drifted in and out of foreign countries for more than four decades. He’s fueled by the novelty that unfamiliar land provides:

I once made a visit to the Muree Brewery, in Pakistan, and you’re surrounded by Al Qaeda. Taking the whiskey back to the hotel room was terrifying. If you go into a restaurant and get a glass of wine it becomes this life-and-death drama.

He lives on the edge, and purposefully looks to zig when others zag. Lawrence also says this:

Some people just want to get back to the comfort zone of their home country. I don’t feel that. It’s just not an emotion I have.

The unconventional angle allows Lawrence to be prolific in his work. He chooses not to follow the herd and swim in the sea of mediocrity. He slams himself in novelty and specialization wrapped up in a rich environment that supports his aim.

You may not want to be a novelist. Fine. But you are hungry to build a chest that enters the doorway a full three seconds before the rest of your body follows.

And for that, you can learn from Lawrence.

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You must immerse yourself in the process just like he does. You’ve got to have that spirit of “I don’t want to be normal,” in order to do what others don’t in order to get what others don’t posses. To adopt this approach, you need a plan.

What follows is a 3-week chest specialization program designed to turn your upper body into a mountain of muscle. Something Jim can’t relate to.

Even though this piece is about building your chest, I’m going to give you what you need as well. As you comb through the program, you’ll see that we’ve plugged in movements that hit all of the pressing muscles – lats, traps, rotator cuff work and arms. We’ll also dedicate one day to full body training – we don’t want ot turn you into Bobby big chest who has a set of wheels that are akin to a new born gazelle.

Chest Specialization Program Notes

This program is designed for you to train four days a week. Please don’t try to negotiate this. If you want to try an cut a deal and justify that you either only have or want to train two or three days a week. That’s all good.

You can spend those extra days on the couch watching re-runs of House of Cards or strolling at the mall window shopping for stuff you don’t need. Or you can train four days like the program calls for and make some gains.

Your choice.

Since we all have different schedules, each day will be labeled numerically instead of by the day (Monday, Tuesday etc). Three days will be devoted to chest development and the fourth day will serve as a whole-body training day. Regardless of how you prefer to appoint your training days, be sure to have one day of rest between chest workouts.

On your non-lifting days, you can (and probably should) do some conditioning work. After all, you can’t flex fat last time I checked.

Nothing fancy for cardio work – either 30 minutes steady state or 12 minutes of HIIT. Any medium will work (run, row, sled push, ski erg, assault bike).

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The program will follow a basic periodization scheme that varies in training domains and volume. To build your chest, you’ll work in three domains of muscle and strength building. One day will be dedicated to strength, one day to hypertrophy and one day to muscle endurance. The fourth day, which is your whole body training session will be devoted to hypertrophy.

You’ll follow a three week cycle, with a fourth week deload. On the fourth week, stay out of the gym, but don’t be lazy either. Stay active. Go on hikes. Do some outdoor bodyweight stuff. Swim. You get the idea.

Volume is adjusted week-by-week to keep you from stagnation and to ensure maximal gains.

Lastly, this is a specialization program. If you’re new to the gym, bookmark this article and come back to it later. Building a base of strength is your first aim. Find a program that helps you build strength, size and emphasizes movement efficacy.

However, if you’ve got some experience under your belt in the iron game, but have stalled on your upper body development, welcome home – you’ve arrived at the right place.

Chest Specialization – Week 1

Week 1
Workout #1 (Hypertrophy)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Incline Dumbbell Bench Press  4  8
B1 High-to-low cable flye  3  8-10
B2 Push ups  3  8-10
C1 Bench press (flat bench)  3  10-12
C2 Face pull  3  10-12
Week 1
Workout #2 (Whole-body)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Back Squat or deadlift  4  6
B1 Pull ups  3  8-10
B2 Lateral raises  3  8-10
C1 Dumbbell walking lunges  3  10-12
C2 Captains chair leg raises  3  10-12
Week 1
Workout #3 (Strength)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Bench Press  4  3
B1 Weighted dip  4  5
B2 One-arm dumbbell row  4  6
Week 1
Workout #4 (Muscle Endurance and Mobility)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Plyo push ups  100
B1 Incline cable fly  3  12-15
B2 Single arm dumbbell bench press  3  12-15
C1 Close grip pull downs  3  15-20
C2 Yoga plex (each arm) .  3  6

Yoga plex. In the yoga plex, you assume a push-up position. Then take your right foot and drive up to your right hand with your knee at a 90 degree angle. From here, you’ll take your right hand/arm and point it up to the ceiling. Your torso should rotate to the right as well.

Then, you’ll do an arm circle with your right arm – reach towards your hip to initiate and complete the circle. Return your right hand to the ground. Drive left foot to your left hand and repeat on left side.
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Chest Specialization – Week 2

Week 2
Workout #1 (Hypertrophy)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Dumbbell bench press (drop-set)  4  8-10
B1 Incline dumbbell flye half-reps  3  12
B2 Dumbbell shrug  3  12
C1 Decline dumbbell bench press  3  12
C2 Barbell roll out  3  12

Dumbbell bench press. Once you compete your last set, drop your weight about 20-30% and perform another 8-10 reps to finish of the set. If you used 100 pound dumbbells to complete 10 reps on the last set, grab a pair of 80’s and try to get up to 10 reps.

Week 2
Workout #2 (Whole Body)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Power clean  5  3
B1 Seated wide grip row  3  12
B2 Arnold press  3  12
C1 Leg extension  3  15
C2 Leg curl  3  15
Week 2
Workout #3 (Strength)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Floor press: 4 x 5  4  5
B1 Weighted, parallel grip pull up  4  5
B2 Dips with 3111 tempo  4  5

Dips. In this version of the dip, you’ll perform them with a 3111 tempo. The movement starts at the top to the dip with your elbows locked out and feet crossed beneath you. The first number indicates you’ll perform the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement in three seconds.

Once you get in the hole, the second number cues that you’ll hold it for once second. Then you’ll push yourself up in one second (the third number). The lat number in the sequence informs you to hold and contract your muscles at the for a one-count before initiating the next rep.

Week 2
Workout #4 (Muscle Endurance and Mobility)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Triple push-up burpees  50
B1 Single arm dumbbell row  3  15-20
B2 Reverse machine flye  3  15-20
C1 Feet elevated push ups  3  20
C2 Band pull aparts  3  20
D Dumbbell push-ups (hands anchored with parallel grip with dumbbells): 3 minute amrap

Triple push-up burpees. In this version of the burpee, you’ll perform three push ups at the bottom position before initiating the jump clap. Each rep will contain three push ups at the bottom.

Dumbbell push-ups. An AMRAP set translates to as many reps as possible in the time allocated. In this case, you have three minutes complete as many reps as possible.

Week 3 – Chest Specialization

Week 3
Workout #1 (Hypertrophy)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Bench press  10  10
B1 Face pull  4  12-15
B2 Low-to-high cable flye  4  12
C1 Incline dumbbell bench press  4  12
C2 Barbell row  4  12

Bench press. This is a potent approach. Don’t overestimate what you can move for 100 reps with limited rest. A good jump off point to asses your load here is to start with 50% of your 1 rep training max. You’ll perform 10 sets of 10 reps with 60 seconds rest between sets.

Week 3
Workout #2 (Whole-Body)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Front squat  4  6
B1 Barbell curl  4  8
B2 Skull crusher  4  8
C1 Barbell glute bridge  4  10
C2 Cable crunch  3  25
Week 3
Workout #3 (Strength)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Push Press  5  5
B1 Dip 3111 temp  5  5
B2 Lat pull downs  5  6-8
Week 3
Workout #4 (Muscle Endurance and Mobility)
Exercise Sets Reps
A Incline cable flye  3  25-30
B1 Valslide flyes  3  15
B2 Reverse crunch  3  25
C1 Single arm dumbbell row  3  15
C1 Squeeze press  3  15
D Feel elevated push ups  5 minute  AMRAP
E Wall slides  3  10
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Wall slides. This is a great tool to open up the shoulders (especially if you work a desk job). And if you pair that will all the pressing you’ll be doing in this program, it’s imperative you give your shoulders and traps some mobility love. Wall slides are perfect for this. It’s a practical way to open up the shoulders and stretch your chest muscles all at once. Stand flat up against a wall. Then place your hand and arms up against the wall too with palms facing away from you.

Then slide your arms up to the ceiling while trying to maintain contact with the wall via your hands, forearms and upper arms. Try to prevent your spine from overextending. You can cue yourself by tucking your rib cage and trying to keep your back in contact with the wall. At the top of the drill you will assume a Y-shape (reach up and out with your arms).

Wrapping Up

With this chest specialization program, it”ll feel like #Internationalchestday three days a week. But don’t take this program lightly: Its potency is something like Blaire’s hot sauce – where customers have to sign a waiver clearing them of any liability.

You have the road map to the gains. Now put it into practice.

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Name: Brian McFadden

Bio: Brian teaches motivated but overwhelmed active individuals the importance of adopting an integrative approach to their health and fitness, so they can finally make the gains they want in the gym, but also live a healthy life outside of it.