We understand your dilemma. Week after week, workout after workout, you attack your chest with everything you can think of. You’ve probably tried just about every trick in the book to grow your chest -- super high volume, heavy weight, drop sets, various benching angles, slow eccentrics. The list goes on and on and on, yet still the same result, zero chest growth.
No matter what, the harder you train, there never seems to be any progress.
If you’re like most lifters, you’re not blessed with the elite genetics of Arnold Schwarzenegger or any other bodybuilder with shelf-like pecs. No, you’re just another average joe struggling to make even the most modest of gains from regular intense training.
Lack of progress in your chesticles can lead to some serious frustration and you might just swear off chest day at the gym forever!
Fret not you struggling lifter, as we’ve got the solution to your chest gain woes -- supersets!
What are supersets?
Supersets are a rarely used intensification tool which can unleash a tidal wave of gains like you’ve never experienced before. At its core, supersets are a pair of exercises performed back-to-back with as little rest as possible between them (i.e. 10-15 seconds MAX). After the two exercises are completed, only then do you get a 60-90 second break, and then it’s back to work!
How does this spark growth?
Simple, hypertrophy (a.k.a. Muscle growth) is all about progressive overload -- your muscles get bigger in response to greater demand placed on them. This “overload” can come in the form of higher volume, heavier weight, or increased time under tension (TUT).
You’ve already tried each of these methods no doubt in your quest for increasing chest size, but supersets allow us to combine increased volume AND time under tension creating a 1-2 punch that will make even the most stubborn of chests grow like weeds.
A bit of a warning before diving into pairings, supersetting exercises will not only create a tremendous amount of muscular fatigue, but it’ll also tax your cardiovascular performance due to the lack of breaks between consecutive exercises. A side benefit of supersetting, in addition to hypertrophy, is extra calorie burning so in addition to gaining some nice size, you’ll also trim a bit of fat as well!
Here are 5 of the best chest supersets to force those pecs to grow like you’ve always hoped!
Before we launch into the supersets, here’s a quick note about performing supersets. Each and every rep must be performed with intensity, good form, and heavy weight. You’ll be doing a lot of reps, but no picking up the pink dumbbells here….well, not if you want your chest to grow!
5 Supersets for a Massive Chest
Heavy Flat Barbell Bench Press + Light Wide Grip Bench to Failure The flat bench press, no other chest exercise applies as much weight to the entire chest complex as this one. This is why it’s the cornerstone of so many chest workouts, just like this one!
In line with that, you must go as heavy as possible with these, while ensuring complete range of motion. That means hands slightly outside shoulder width, lats drawn down and back, and chest out. Unrack the bar and “row” it down to your sternum and then press it back up focusing on driving the bar with your pecs, not your arms or shoulders
When your pecs are toast on the heavy weight, immediately strip some of the weight off and take an exaggerated wide grip on the bar (wider than you were just doing) and rep out to muscular failure. We hit the chest with heavy weight and lower reps initially, now we’re finishing off any last bit of energy with higher rep wide grip presses to hit every muscle fiber possible!
4 sets of 8-10 reps flat bench followed by AMRAP on the wide grip bench
- Heavy Dumbbell Bench Press + Low Incline DB Press to Failure
Similar to our first superset, we’re going with the hit ‘em hard and heavy first, then burn them out second. Start off on a flat bench with a pair of heavy dumbbells that allows you to perform 8-10 reps with good form. Assume a similar position as the flat bench (shoulder blades pulled down and back, chest out, feet planted, etc.) and “pull” the dumbbells down the your sides and press up focusing on driving with the pecs and “squeezing” them at the top.
Immediately after finished your reps, set the weights aside, slide the bench up to a low incline (about 30°), grab some lighter dumbbells and perform clean, controlled reps to failure.
Note: Weight for Incline DB Presses should be about 20-30% less than weight used on the first exercise.
4 sets of 8-10 reps DB Bench followed by AMRAP on the DB Incline bench
- Resistance Band Flys + Pec Dec
Think you always need to be slinging heavy weights around to grow muscle, think again! Training with resistance bands offers a new stimulus for muscles by providing dynamic resistance throughout each rep.
Attach a moderately heavy resistance band around a post about shoulder height. Initiate the movement by pulling the handles out and around until your hands are in front of your body (similar to a cable crossover). Make sure to cross your hands in front with each rep to ensure maximum chest muscle recruitment and activation. On the eccentric portion of the lift, make sure to control the opening of your arms and not lose tension on the band.
After band flys, time to hit the pec dec where you can up the weight and aim for 10-12 reps with slow and controlled form. Focus on really squeezing your pecs together at the top of each and every rep, then control the weight on the way back to the starting point.
4 sets 10-12 reps flys followed by 10-12 reps pec dec
- Push Ups + “Negative” Push Ups
This superset employs the granddaddy of all chest training -- the push up! Many of you were first exposed to chest training by pounding out endless reps of push ups in gym class. If they were good enough back then, they’re good enough now! Many of the top bodybuilders of yesteryear built their chest foundation on high volume push ups. They worked for those guys, they sure as hell can work for you.
Get into a plank position with your feet together, arms and back straight, core engaged, and hands about shoulder width apart. Lower yourself under control to the floor, pause for 1 second, and then press up, ensuring your back isn’t rounding during any portion of the movement. Perform as many as possible with good form before proceeding to the “negative” push ups.
Think of “negative” push ups controlled eccentrics. Lower yourself down to the ground over a 5 count, then press yourself back up, if that means going on your knees to get up so be it. Leave your ego at the door, we’re trying to spark new muscle growth, not impress people with endless sloppy reps.
- Smith Machine Flat Bench Press + Partner Resisted Smith Press
Ah the Smith Machine, no other piece of equipment has garnered as much score and animosity as this piece of equipment. While it shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your training, it can come in handy at certain times.
Get into position for a standard flat bench press in the Smith machine, and perform 10-12 reps without bouncing the weight or any other kind of nonsense. After reaching failure, unload the weights and get into position under the bar again. Unrack it and have your training partner press down on the bar as you try to resist it crashing down on your chest. As you fatigue, your training partner will lighten the force he’s applying to the bar until you reach the bottom of the rep at which point, your chest is fried and you’ll struggle with every fiber of your being just to move the weight of the bar into the rack position.
This is the ultimate finisher to a chest workout, as you won’t have anything left in the tank after completing 1 rep of the partner resisted / assisted smith machine press.
1 set 10-12 reps followed by 1 partner assisted smith press rep
Make that Chest Grow!
It’s time to get rid of those pre-pubescent pecs and forge the chest of a champion! Next time you’re struggling to make any sizeable gains with your chest, ditch your routine, and give these supersets a go. You’ll see remarkable growth, and have some of the worst DOMS you could ever imagine!