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Eyes on the Prize

 

CHEST
Be eccentric | Most chest exercises emphasize only the concentric contraction of your pecs (when the muscles shorten, as in pushing up in a bench press). But you can achieve greater growth by focusing on the eccentric contraction (the point of a rep in which your muscles lengthen) combined with a powerful concentric action immediately afterward. Use the power pushup. Set up two aerobic steps and rest one hand on each. Get into pushup position. Quickly move your hands inside the steps before your body touches down and then immediately explode back upward, placing your hands on the steps again. That's one rep. Do five sets of three to eight reps, resting up to three minutes between sets. This much-intensified variation of the old-school clapping pushup works every muscle fiber in the chest, making it a foolproof strategy for growth.

Straighten your posture | If you've been doing bench presses, flys, and pushups, congratulations! Chances are, you probably have a pretty good chest already. The problem is, it may not be getting you the credit you deserve because of your rounded shoulder posture. A weak upper back allows the shoulders to droop forward, giving even large pectorals a sunken appearance. The solution: Strengthen the upper back and make more room for the chest to show. Try the face pull. Set up as you would to do a seated row, but attach a rope handle to the cable. Keeping your torso straight, pull the handle to your face, stopping just before your chin, so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor and your shoulder blades are squeezed together. That's one rep. Do four sets of eight to 10 reps, resting 60 seconds between sets.

Plug in your chest fly | It's easy to learn good form on the chest fly exercise-just think of giving someone a bear hug. Well, we've got another mnemonic device that will help you remember how to do the fly more efficiently. Think of plugging two extension cords together. It's the same basic movement as a regular fly, but your palms are turned away from you, rather than facing each other, which activates more pectoral musculature.

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