As Teddy Roosevelt once said, the more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future. While I doubt the former U.S. president was thinking about lifting weights when he said this, the motto does apply to fitness.
Everyone wants to discover new ways to build muscle, but some of the best strategies were developed by the legends from years past. Incorporate these classic bodybuilding moves into your chest day for the next four weeks, and you’ll see legendary results in no time!
The Old School Workout to Build Your Chest
Over the four-week span, cut the rest time between sets each week from 60 seconds to 50, 40, and finally 30.
Incline barbell bench press
The sets and reps here come courtesy of Vince Gironda. For those who don’t the name…Google him. Gironda is considered by many to be one of the original “gurus” of bodybuilding. He helped legends like Arnold, Larry Scott, and many others achieve their celebrated status, and his methods are the key to muscle-building glory.
One of Gironda’s famous training methods is the 8×8 plan, which is 8 sets of 8 reps at 60 percent of your one rep max. For his workouts, Gironda would choose four exercises and perform all of them with minimal rest between sets. The goal was to be in and out of the gym in less than an hour.
Decline barbell bench press
Six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates is known for two things: taking a single working set to failure, and not liking the flat barbell bench. He popularized benching at different angles, becoming a huge advocate of the decline bench later in his career.
Yates believed the decline bench was more effective at isolating and stimulating the pecs than flat bench, and better for protecting the shoulders from injury.
Instead of shortening the range of motion by touching the bar to the ribs below the chest, lower it to the middle of your chest and pause before pressing it back up. You’ll have to use lighter weight and should probably have a spotter, but the benefits will make it worth it.
Flat dumbbell fly
You know anything Arnold used to build his world-famous physique is going to be effective—it’s practically a law of weight training.
One of the reasons Arnold felt his chest was his best muscle group was his very long range of motion on the flat dumbbell flyes. Whereas many lifters stop the stretch when their arms are parallel with the floor, he would lower the dumbbells as far as he could, until his elbows almost touched the floor. This deep stretch allowed him to stress all the muscle fibers and forced more blood flow to the pecs.
Arnold rarely went super heavy with his flyes, opting to stay in the 10-15 rep range. To build a chest like this mega star of the screen and stage, choose lighter weights and a wider reach. Push yourself past your normal stopping point, but be careful not to overreach and cause injury.