The top bodybuilders are all gifted with extraordinary genetics for building extreme amounts of shapely muscle mass, but some of them weren’t fortunate enough to get that gift from head to toe.
A few actually had to figure out how to bring up a lagging muscle group or two, and what they learned can help the average Joe like you and me. For example, many bodybuilders struggle with trying to build pecs they can be proud of, and often the obstacle is dominant front delts and triceps that take over and rob the chest of the stimulation it needs.
That was the case with ’06 Junior National Champion Evan Centopani. His enormous melon delts and 22-inch arms totally overpowered his chest, so he had no choice but to take action before the imbalance forever kept him from earning a pro card. Here’s what he did—and what you too can do for problem pecs:
Ditch the ego. “Like everyone else, I got caught up in trying to use the most weight possible on chest day, especially on the bench press,” Evan confesses. “The trouble was that even though I was pushing up a lot of plates, I wasn’t feeling my chest work. That’s because it was hardly working—my arms and shoulders were really moving all that iron for me.”
Centopani lightened up the weight considerably, and he immediately felt what he had been missing. “The mind/muscle connection that I’d always felt in other muscle groups but not the chest was suddenly evident,” he says. “With less weight I was able to really squeeze the pecs and feel the stretch on the way down.”
Preexhaust. His second major solution was to employ the preexhaust technique. Rather than start chest workouts with a heavy pressing movement as most bodybuilders do, he isolated the pecs with a few sets of some type of dumbbell flye as well as a flye machine.
That prefatigued the pecs so that when he moved on to a compound pressing movement, the fresh front delts and triceps were able to drive the tired pecs into a deeper state of exhaustion. It also means you don’t have to use as much weight on presses, which can save your elbow and shoulder joints in the long run.
For those who balk at the idea of doing presses later in the workout, Evan explains that you may not need to do that. “If you have no problem feeling your chest work and getting it to grow, then do whatever you want,” he suggests. “But if you’re like me and your shoulders and arms take over, you should really think about making some adjustments to your chest workouts. I wouldn’t recommend it if it hadn’t paid off for me.”