Getting jacked

With a heavy heart, the time has come for me to finally write an article on building a more muscular chest and arms. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with such a goal.

With a heavy heart, the time has come for me to finally write an article on building a more muscular chest and arms. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with such a goal. It’s just that every Tom, Dick and Harry in the gym regularly exercises their chest and arms. Legs? Probably not. Back? Slim chance. But working arms and chest at least once a week is pretty much guaranteed.

Alright, so it’s a topic that’s been done to death. There’s good reason for that though. Chest and arms are often the very first thing one notices about another person’s body. If the chest looks powerful and the arms are “swole,” most folks are going to be impressed. Sure, hardcore bodybuilders might scoff at an individual that focuses on “beach muscles” like chest and arms, but guess what? Most people aren’t bodybuilders. Most people notice little else other than chest and arms. Yes, a healthy body should be a balanced body, but it should be no surprise to anyone that many trainees place chest and arm development as their top priority. So, I’m going to give them what they want.

Those that have read my previous gym guides aren’t going to find any new training philosophies here. Regardless of what body part is being trained, I still believe hard and heavy training is the most efficient way to go about things. (By which I mean the greatest level of results in the least amount of time.) I’m not a fan of workouts longer than 40 minutes to an hour, or endless sets. These methods undoubtedly work, but my readers are not professional bodybuilders. They have jobs, families and schoolwork.

Furthermore, relying heavily on machines is a mistake. While there is nothing inherently wrong with using machines, they aren’t generally regarded as the best ways for building muscle mass. This is due to the mechanical rigid nature of machines. Machines lock the body into a single range of motion and minimize the use of other muscle as stabilizers. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, this isolation ultimately results in reduced muscle fiber recruitment, which translates into less muscle stimulation. Because of this, basic compound exercises are preferable. An effective chest routine can require as few as two basic exercises, such as incline bench press and weight dips. Arms are comprised of both pushing and pulling muscles, but even arms still don’t require many exercises. One or two different types of curling movements, along with one or two pressing or extension movements for triceps, is plenty. Before I ever had a gym membership, I successfully enhanced my arms developed with my at-home weight set, and I only used two exercises: dumbbell curls for biceps and lying dumbbell extensions for triceps.

When it comes to muscle, less is often more—so, how should you put it all together? First off, these body parts (or any other for that matter) do not need to be trained any more than twice a week, especially if intensity is adequate. Directly training chest and arms every three to seven days is plenty. Secondly, using heavy weights that allow for only four to eight reps before reaching muscle failure (i.e., the point at which it isn’t possible to perform another repetition with acceptable form) will allow for the greatest amount of muscle fiber recruitment and stimulation. Lastly, because the poundages are so darn heavy, not many sets are needed. For a large muscle group like the chest, five or six sets total is plenty. For smaller muscle groups, like biceps and triceps, as few as three sets each can get the job done.

Is this type of routine frilly and exciting? Hell no. But it is certainly effective. For those that follow this routine with diligence and intensity, gains in chest and arm development are but a foregone conclusion. ?