Building Perfect Pecs
by Verne McDonald -- 1993
There are three attributes of pectorals which usually flash across the mind of
the beholder to imprint an image of perfection. These are, one, grand width --
width to the outer limits -- that spreads form sternum to the great beyond of
the shoulders; two, a bold shape-line that almost squares the bottom pecs, and
downplays any sag there, while it goes on to hug the outer and upward curves;
three, snappy displays of intra-striations.
Of the three attributes, the third (fully "cut" separation) is the least
emphatic, simply because it's the most fleeting. A temporary condition,
actually, it's derived during pre-contest fine tuning through nonfat, low-carb
nutrition and light-weight, high-rep isolationism.
The attributes of width to the outer limit and shape of the proper alignment are
(or should be) lasting. To develop these permanent qualities, 10 exercise have
been carefully chosen. Before considering them, auxiliary muscle function and
exercise innovation must be factored in, and, even before these considerations,
types of attachment inherent for the individual should be determined.
Attachments: Subtle Factors in Imaging -- Attachment can be an obvious factor in
physique shape and image, as in calves and lats, or no factor whatsoever as in
delts (which are largely predetermined by bone structure). In the case of pecs
(and the majors in particular), although width and curve are influenced by
attachments, his influence is subtle by comparison to the lats which can range
beyond the norm to very high or very low. In pectoral attachment vocabulary, the
term "high" is not relevant. "Low" remains apt but on a modified basis. That is,
the bottom pecs are pendulous to a slight degree only. Referring vertically,
otherwise, "normal" is the only other description. Completing the variable
descriptions of pec attachments are those for the horizontal, from their three
points of origin clear to the convergence point of insertion. These may be
described as "compact" or "wide."
The combination of vertical and horizontal attachments
amount to four groupings:
Vertically low and horizontally wide, as exemplified by Lee Haney, Lou Ferrigno
and Tony Pearson.
Vertically normal and horizontally wide, a la Lance Dreher, Samir Bannout, Shawn
Ray, Eddie Robinson and Frank Zane.
Vertically low and horizontally compact, via Bertil Fox, Tim Belknap, and Kalman
Szkalak (remember this past Mr. America?)
Vertically normal and horizontally compact, as displayed by Chris Dickerson, Tom
Platz, and Mohamed Jakkawy.
Now, those picture-perfect pecs being touted are those sported by Dreher,
Bannout and company -- of the "vertically normal and horizontally wide" variety.
This does not mean to imply that the other three pec types are adverse or wrong.
(Who would dare call Handy's pecs "wrong"?!). In fact, since Haney is so
massively curved, his pecs fit his hulkish frame, as the compact but pendulous
pecs of Fox suit his compact but massive body (and ditto for the fireplug form
of Belknap,) while the normal and compact pecs of Mr. Olympia Dickerson
complement his compact stature and his overall build. It's just that the "normal
and wide type best fits the premium value put on them by not only the physique
world, but by the aesthetic and public worlds as well.
The ten exercises are designed specifically to attempt an emulation of the most
desirable pectoral type, despite a given genetic foundation. In order for this
to occur, use of stretch and some innovation is essential.
Incorporating Stretch: A Must Principle -- Of the five characteristics of muscle
function, only contractibility seems to spring to most people's minds. Makes
sense. Why should the principles of irritability (response to stimuli) and
conductivity (nerve impulse) supersede initial thought? But extensibility (plus
elasticity), or stretch, best not be over-looked -- especially in the quest, for
ultra wide pecs, for tendons of origins (at ribs, sternum, clavicles) and of
insertion must be gently and persistently extended.
Furthermore, extensility must be used as both a primary function and subsidiary
function. So, warm up with light pullovers, using a bar of 20-30 pounds (collars
only and probably no plates, will suffice), do 10-12 reps with a wide-grip. Rest
briefly, do same reps with a normal grip and again entire procedure for a third
sets with a narrow grip. Finally, use a palm-locked grip on the inner face of
the plate of 20-pound dumbbell to finish up with a fourth set of warm-ups.
Most of the 10 selections, which will be narrowed to form a routine best suited
for the individual purposely incorporate stretch for the most favorable overall
Prime Motion Wide-outs: Emphasizing Outer Pecs and
Squarer Lower Pecs:
Wide-grip bench press: A hand's width beyond delts is far enough; any further
spacing outward would rob stress throughout entire breadth of pecs and place it
on the far edges, almost exclusively.
Lean dips on crossbar: This is an innovation on regular dips to underscore
bottom pecs as well as achieve ultimate width for them, as promised by wide-grip
bench presses. Place a short, plate-less bar upon the bench's safety stands and,
with hands placed just outside shoulders, lean forward to do dips.
Cambered bar bench press: The bar has the one long curve to accommodate the
Dumbbell bench press: An option to the cambered bar, it accomplishes the same
effect. (in both selections the bench is flat, of course.)
Dumbbell Bench Press: The most advantageous angle setting should be 40-50
degrees; press should start below pecs and finish above forehead. Upper pecs are
stressed too, and that's a bonus.
Close-grip barbell incline press: Another innovation, again on a 40-45 degree
pitch, again begun below pecs (with hand spacing of six inches0 and again
complete above forehead. As with dumbbell incline press, upper pecs are strongly
stimulated, too. this selection crowds shoulders a bit. Should the isolations
that follow fail to suspend the tightness and actual joint pain occur,
discontinue this version of the incline press.
Choose one or two of the three prime motion selections. Reps recommended at 8-10
per set. Set and weight amounts left to the discretion of the individual.
Precision Delineators: Keying Pec Width and Bold
Cable incline flyes: As with presses, incline of 40-45 degrees produces best
results: cable handles avoid clash of dumbbell plates, thereby permitting fuller
contraction. Though primary emphasis still fails on upper pecs, a greater curve
of contraction stimulates entire pectoral region. Be certain to begin flyes with
elbows bent and back as far as possible without actually straining shoulder and
Alternate dumbbell flyes on incline: This is an innovation to mimic cable
incline flyes (or an attempt at mimic). By alternating dumbbell swoops, the
bells do not hit, and contraction is more pronounced. Incline setting, start
finish and end result of this exercise are the same as for the cable version.
Pec Deck: Being a machine, its configuration does not allow the fuller stretch
that's desired or possible in free flyes, but it's excellent for pronouncing
shape-line from shoulder tips to midpoint via the sternum.
Tuck flyes: Hold dumbbells in the position of a partially completed bench press;
then swing elbows inward and upward. Hold and tense at midpoint. Return to start
position. This somewhat simulates pec station isolation.
Choose one of the two delineators to complement the one (or two) prime mover(s).
Make reps 10-12 per set. Again set and resistance amounts are left to the
discretion of the individual.
Do Nots and Final Results -- The "do's", which were just given, require a last
suggestion: one or tow of the prime movers, and one of the delineators should be
done for six months or more; then, if desired, the remaining prime mover(s) and
the remaining delineator should be doe for several additional months. (Although
possessing pecs of the "vertically low / horizontally wide" type. Mr. America
Toy Pearson has at times programmed his pecs on a course of the uppermost and
ultra wide persuasion. Depending on how Pearson presents himself, he can feature
pectoral idealism as envisioned by the consensus.)
The "do nots" are; too many heavy crossovers, regular / power bench presses,
decline flyes / presses and all others which overly punctuate the lower and
inner-most pecs. Even in the present age, there's a stigma attached to the
over-thickened boob-look that the dichotomy with the mammaries of "cheesecake"
in certain centerfolds.
The course of ten recommended pec blasters will certainly prevent such a stigma.
And though picture-perfect pecs are not in the realm of possibility for
everybody, photogenic ones are surely likely.
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