T Nation

Big Arms, Little Chest. Back to the Lab!


Hi guys,

I'm trying to re-jig my program to put a bit more focus on building my pecs WITHOUT being overly stressful on my joints/shoulders.

I was previously on a (one body part per day) program and had great results for a month or two. Now I am on gaint sets and big power lifts 3x per week and gains are coming again.

Everything is going great bar a minor shoulder/joining bicep tweak that I have been getting physio therapy for (Knee probs too but what are you going to do, cry about it? SADDLE BAGS!!?).

Just trying to think about how I can stimulate my chest more, as my arms seem to naturally baloon up like crazy..(Not a bad problem to have but I am all about balance)
DIPS have helped a lot and I have put on size to my chest as a result, but of course arms are way ahead still.

I have tried working hard on mind -> muscle connection and spending time with just an empty bar focussing on my movements, really "feeling" and "squeezing" my pecs when I press movements.
This is great, however I find the squeeze focus really puts stress on my shoulders, and doesn't feel "good".

I am a bit lost as to where to go from here, but being that my body is the lab I am just going to keep trying things until I find growth.

Any thoughts?

Here's my plan for the next 4-8 weeks (Keeping in mind I want to keep pressing to pulling ratio unbalanced in favour of pulling to help fix my injured shoulder)

(Weights are heavy enough that I can only really manage 4 lifts with 5 being a real struggle to re-rack. By the fifth set I want to be really digging deep within to find that extra rep)
BARBELL BENCH PRESS - 3X10 (Focus mind -> muscle)
INCLINE DUMBELL PRESS - 3X10 ->Superset Flyes until failure after final set.

Chest focussed presses are now in a 2 bench split with lower sets to try and keep stress lower on my shoulder, while keeping variation high and volume high to try and stimulate growth.

I am working my a** off, but please let me know if I am doing something whack/could be doing smarter.



Prepare to be hit with a "get on a split" stick. :wink:


Two things

1) How is your form on chest pressing exercises? Are you retracting/depressing your shoulder blades throughout the entire movement? Are you keeping a tight arch in your lower back? Are you doing "iron cross"/bbing styles or semi-tucked? Are you focusing on the bottom ROM of the bench (from on the chest to just before the triceps/shoulders start to take over)?

2) Why did you stop the body part split if it was working? How much strength progress do you expect to make doing all of those exercises in the same workout 3 times a week?


That's all one workout???

Holy shit.


LOL. That's what I was thinkin. Anyways, OP, try doin your inclines before regular barbell bench.


Fuck that shit, you have to split that up. 42 sets (including flies) in one workout?


Ever consider dedicating one day a week to killing the lagging member? I find that with me, my pecs lag behind other body parts. A few routines that I've changed up over the years helped me. As with most tips and advice, this may only work on me, but then again...it did work.

Workout #1:
This is basically a dropset with each exercise done back to back with weight that only allows 5 reps each. Each set is done back to back with no rest.

Bench press
Pec deck
Weighted dips (done properly to target the pecs, not the triceps)
Dumbell bench press
Doorway stretch

Repeat x5 with no rest but take 10lb off all equipment each time.

Workout #2

This is a one sided pyramid (not sure what the "real" name for it is)
I start with what I can only do 10 with and as the weight goes up, the reps dwindle with my ability to lift it.

Bench press 4 sets Reps 10, 8, 6, 4
Pec deck same
Weighted dips same
Flyes same
Dumbell bench press same

This helped me go from a 135 bench to 225 at 5'4 150lb. in about 2 years. Maybe it (or at least the concept) could help you? If nothing else, just give it a try and if it works, great. If not, toss it out.


I was having the same problem, so I went back to what works for me. I am doing a 4 day split again and I am training chest/tri's on the same day. I was doing a bunch of low rep sets and wasnt growing. I started some higher rep sets 8-12 and focused on training until failure, some drop sets. I have seen some good progress in just 4 weeks. It does suck when your chest is always lagging behind everything else though.


Deads and squats, along with everything else is WAY TOO MUCH. You listed that workout as "Mon." How often are you doing that workout? You'll be lucky to only have a shoulder injury when your done with this cycle....



I really have to apologise guys, for some weird reason (mostly because i'm a stupid newbie) I thought this post never made it through and I only just stumbled across it.

Just firstly want to say thank you so much for taking the time to post your opinions, you took the time out of your day to read my post and give me some advice, that's much appreciated!

Before I answer some of the replies I just want to say that my program I outlined has been going great over the last few weeks and my chest is GROWING!

The best results i've had were when I added this circuit into my routine.

a) Elevated pusups on a barbell raised of the ground with a rest hold halfway through
b) Elevated barbell press
c) Decline flyes, 4secs negative - 4 secs hold in position - 1sec back to starting pos.

Repeat 3x. And well! My chest is coming up!!!!
Not to mention the rest of my body has, how can I put it? Just "come together" since i've been doing the new program.
I've really crossed that composition boundary from looking "flat" to looking muscular.
To say the least it's got me really excited about working out.


I was worried about this..

And you're right, it's a tough load to put on my body.

As far as the "shoulder injury" and the knee dramas are concerned they are gone and healed.

I have been really careful with my exercises from physio therapy and both have completely cleared up!

But I understand how doing something of this magnitude could be "too mcuh"

Any suggestions on how I could improve?

Split loads on the lower back into 2 days?

Thank you for your post!


Thank you man!

Your chest doesn't look like it's "lagging" to me haha!

I will definitely try this out, already onto the DIPS with proper form and they have been helping a LOT!

You are definitely right about hitting it from lots of angles and exercises.


LOL :slight_smile:

Thanks man, will do, i've actually tossed out flat bench for now..but inclines I feel will be the bomb :slight_smile:



I take it from your subsequent reply that it's not a good "holy sh*t" but more of a "you're a silly b*gger" holy sh*t :smiley:

Well yeah, I am new, but my reasoning is this..

I could pick a split from the forum or the beginner sections, however, I have been lifting weights (not with success) for around 10years now, so I do have a reasonable base to work off.
Plus, I am trying to use my body as the lab, if something works I keep doing it (within reason), if something doesn't I throw it out..if I want something to grow I try to hit it as much as possible till it does.

I realise I might be making mistakes with this program, but it doesn't feel "wrong", very taxing yes! But not injurous taxing.

My lower back is a little sore after the workouts, but I warm up to every exercise with bodyweight or light weight lifts and focus on form like a ma-fker.
The only other side effect is I sleep for like 10 hours the night after one of these :slight_smile:

Please do let me know if I could be working smarter!

I need all the help I can get from more experienced guys!

Don't want to end up stuffed in 6months and have to lose all my progress.


Thanks so much for your reply, your physique is incredible!

1) Form is good, style is semi tucked and yes I focus on the bottom part before the press is too high. But I find this only "works" when i'm pushing a LOT of weight which usually requires a spotter which is not always possible.

2) I stopped it because I felt there wasn't enough synergy in my physique. I was hitting all these seperate body parts with fairly isolated movements. I'd heard alot about compound movements and how they recruit a lot of muscle fibres.
I thought that If I swapped to a more "power move" style workout I'd get more out of my time at the gym in respect to "tying" my physique together by recruiting lots of muscles in my lifts.

Sorry did that make any sense?
It seems to make sense in my head from a few different points of view.

Plus I realised I wasn't very strong, so I felt like a bit of a fool sitting in the gym doing isolation curls when I can't even do 5 pullups.
I really thought this would help up my strength and bring it all together so to speak!

Open and willing for any critique!!! :slight_smile:


OP I had the same problem, arms grow faster than chest and take over in lots of movements. Listen to what Santoguy said, basically "open your chest up" like doing a fly when you are pressing and keep your shoulder blades back against the bench (retracted), it makes all the difference. Never lock out, keep the stress on the muscles as well. For me, flyes always help my chest grow better than presses, cables especially. also, throw in 100 pushups a day in as few sets it takes separate from the gym, like first thing in the morning, it is only bodyweight, hopefully wont impact your shoulder. good job trying to balance loads pushing/pulling.


Thank you heaps for taking the time to post!

Really appreciate your advice.

Ok I will try that technique on Wed when I bench.

I hear you on the flyes and cables, i've been doing a LOT of flyes and they are actually working well for me now whereas in the beginning they felt really wrong for my joints.

Do you think that doing 100pushups a day will stop me from recovering fully/properly?

Sorry if that's a silly question but i'm pretty wrecked the day after a workout.

:slight_smile: Let me know what you think, would gladly try it.


Just thought about that for a second,

You know what, of course i'll try it.

That's the name of the game right? See what works.




More than willing to get bashed by the stick if it's worthwhile, well founded advice.

If not well.....it'll just fire me up to train harder to prove them wrong!


5x5 squat and deadlift?

Come on now, you won't be able to do anything worth shit.

As everyone else says, split up.