[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Steve Weatherford, who is a proud spokesperson for Pushups For Charity 2016, an annual fundraising initiative that raises awareness of the challenges military service members and veterans face, and raises money to support their unique needs.]
Chest, for me, is one of the most stubborn muscle groups of them all. What I mean by that is that it takes a serious commitment of time and energy, as well as variations in my training, to start realizing the gains I had hoped for.
For the longest time it seemed like no matter what I did to try to get it to grow and become stronger, the progress was minimal. Barbell bench, incline press, I was doing all of the old standby’s, grinding out each rep, but the strength of my chest, as well as the size of it, remained relatively level. I had to change something!
I began experimenting with different training modalities, taking bits and pieces of what I have learned along the way from various NFL Strength & Conditioning coaches and legends in the fitness world. After doing this I began to realize, it wasn’t necessarily that I had to change the workouts that I was doing, as much as it was the way I was doing them, the sets, the reps, the strategies. It was time to get cerebral about my training!
This led me to Central Nervous System (CNS) Shock training. CNS Shock training is all about shocking your body early in the workout by starting off with low reps (2) at heavy weight, working up to a 1-Rep Max weight. But that’s just the warm up. Once you hit that max, you then get into working sets at a lower weight.
Stimulating the muscles early with excessive workload allows your body to handle more weight for more reps during the working sets than you normally would. This is because relative to what you just put up, the working sets are much lighter.
It’s very similar to putting a weighted doughnut on your bat in the on deck circle when you play baseball. You warm up with a heavier weight so that when it counts, the bat feels like a feather and you are able to swing with more power at the plate. Same idea here.
Additionally, this type of training is a blend between power lifting (lower reps, heavier weights) and bodybuilding (with the lower weight and higher reps). This allows you to realize the power/athletic/ benefits of power lifting while also creating volume and muscle mass like a body builder. It’s the best of both worlds, the performance of a power lifter with the aesthetics of a bodybuilder.
Below is a chest workout I like to go through to get the strength and size gains that I’m after, and it all kicks off with a CNS Shock!
Incline Barbell Bench Press CNS Shock
2 Reps @ 60% of 1 Rep Max
2 Reps @ 65% of 1 Rep Max
2 Reps @ 75% of 1 Rep Max
2 Reps @ 85% of 1 Rep Max
2 Rep at 90% of 1 Rep Max
4 sets of 10 @ 70% of 1 Rep Max
After shocking the chest into strength gains with the above sets, reps, and weight, I then move into my standard mid to high rep training that helps me shape and tone my muscles to give them the look I’m after.
Dumbbell Banded Floor Press
4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Cable Flies (Upper-Chest Focus)
4 sets of 15
Focus on squeezing the chest together at the end of the fly and putting your body at a forward angle to emphasize use of the upper-chest muscles. This one will really pump up your chest!
Dumbbell Decline “O” Fly
4 sets of 6
We will be attacking the lower chest here to round out our routine. The “O” here refers to the shape of the movement you’ll be making when executing this exercise. This is another one where you really want to focus on the squeeze at the top of the rep.
Finisher: Plate Partner Push Ups
4 set Dropset until Failure
Have a partner place 3 plate weights on your back. Rep the entire stack until failure, then have your partner strip one of the weights off. Repeat until there is no weight on your back.
As noted, Steve Weatherford is a proud spokesperson for Pushups For Charity 2016, an annual fundraising initiative that raises awareness of the challenges military service members and veterans face, and raises money to support their unique needs. This year, the goal is to reward more than 500 grants to support Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; veteran housing assistance; career and education; and financial assistance to more deserving hero families. Boot Campaign’s Pushups for Charity challenge runs until Veterans Day, November 11. Visit www.PushupsForCharity.com to learn how you can get involved!