For a lot of serious bodybuilders, it’s simply not enough to lift the weights—they take the extra mental step of actively thinking about the body parts they’re working, too (an effort intended to will the muscles into cooperation). Of course, it’s not something science can prove, at least not yet, but thousands of successful lifters with incredible physiques swear by the so-called “mind-muscle” technique. (Who are we to argue?) Here is a workout designed to help you tap into that unexplainable yet undeniable connection, and grow a bigger chest in just six weeks.

How it works

When you train biceps or calves, you feel the muscles working and burning right away. But many guys have trouble feeling their pecs work in the same fashion. Exercises like the hex press force you to concentrate on the contraction in your pecs throughout the entire set, increasing the muscle activation. This program also uses dumbbell and pushup movements that offer more range of motion than barbell-pressing does. However, we haven’t neglected strength: The incline bench press targets the chest even more intensely than the conventional flat bench press, and it’s easier on the shoulders. You can load it up and go heavy to give your pecs the maximum growth stimulus.

Directions

Perform this workout once per week, and give yourself at least two full days of rest before any extra shoulder training. Perform the exercises as straight sets, completing all the sets for one move before going on to the next. Rest as needed between sets, but keep the pace intense throughout.

The workout

1. Hex press
Sets: 3 Reps: 10
Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and lie back on a flat bench. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder-level with palms facing each other, and push the weights together hard so you feel your pecs flex. (It’s best if you use hexagonal dumbbells so the sides fit against each other evenly.) Press the weights directly above you until your arms are fully extended—maintain the contraction in your pecs. Pause at the top for one second, flexing your chest as hard as you can. Then lower the weights to your chest, and pause for one second before beginning the next rep.

2. Dumbbell bench press
Sets: 4 Reps: 8
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie back on a flat bench. Press the weights up from shoulder-level until your arms are over your chest.

3. Incline bench press
Sets: 3 Reps: 6
Lie back on an incline bench, and grasp the bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Arch your back, and pull the bar out of the rack. Lower the bar to the upper part of your chest, stopping a few inches above it. Then drive your feet into the floor as you press the bar back up.

4. Incline dumbbell flye
Sets: 3 Reps: 12
Set an adjustable bench to a 30-45° angle, and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your wrists so your palms face each other. Press the weights straight over your chest, and then, keeping a bend in your elbows, spread your arms as if you were going in for a bear hug. Lower your arms until you feel a stretch in your pecs, and then bring the weights back together.

5. Elevated pushup
Sets: 3 Reps: As many as possible
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, get into pushup position. Raise your legs behind you onto a bench. Keeping your abs braced and your body in a straight line, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower your body until your chest is an inch above the floor. Press back up three-quarters of the way, then lower into the next rep.