This routine is straightforward, but it'll challenge you in the weight room on the way to major new gains.
Joe Wuebben for Muscle & Fitness 1 / 6
Some lifters like to make things as complicated as possible. Not Jim Wendler. The creator of the famed '5/3/1 Program,' Wendler made his fame in the powerlifting community by utilizing totally basic exercises with very straightforward set and rep schemes. He called his approach "Boring But Big." It looks dull on paper, but it kicks ass in the gym and produces results.
Fortunately, Wendler was much better at planning workouts than marketing them.
His approach is the inspiration for this chest workout, designed by Robert Ciresi, Jr., an ISSA-certified trainer and physique competitor. The exercises all look familiar, which is exactly the point, and there are no fancy rep schemes either. But you know what never goes out of style? Heavy sets of 10 reps on compound exercises. “This is a four- to six-week cycle that will produce muscle growth and strength,” says Ciresi, who trains out of A Taylored Body gym in Riverside, CA. “It’s tried-and true stuff—some good old-fashioned grunt work.”
Scroll through the gallery to get the details on this routine.
Scroll through the gallery to get specific details on each exercise:
Bench Press Sets: 4 Reps: 12 Rest: 2-3 min
Incline Dumbbell Press Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 2 min
Cable Flye Sets: 2 Reps: 20 Rest: 1 min
Pushup Sets: 2 Reps: 25 Rest: 1 min
1. Bench Press
Employ a spotter on this exercise, as the idea here is to go as heavy as possible while not letting your form suffer. Ciresi notes that by the seventh rep, it should feel difficult, so that hitting 12 reps is a true challenge. Don’t shortchange your rest periods on the bench; let your muscles recover between sets.
Push yourself to use a weight that's comfortable, but heavy. Every other week, switch up your exercise order and do inclines first, then flat bench. And if you feel like swapping out the dumbbells for a barbell, you can do that, too.
“Do your best to get all 25 reps in a clip,” says Ciresi. “If you can’t get all 25 straight, rest-pause to reach that rep count.” You can start with standard pushups, but to keep things fresh, try them with feet elevated.