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Chest Routine Question

So I have been using dumbbells (flat/incline/decline) for my chest routine lately because my elbows hurt on regular bench. My arms fatigue way before my chest muscles do. I feel like I need something else other than flyes to finish my chest day off (I already do flyes). Are the hammer strength machines worth a try? I use the smith machines sometimes because that doesn’t hurt as much.

Thanks for any help.

Hammer strength bench machines give my chest the best stimulation. Try to make sure your shoulders are tucked back and you are squeezing your shoulder blades. This gives me the best chest isolation.

Flyes should only really be used as a finishing exercise. They are not for all out muscle mass.

Why only use dumbbells?

There are tons of movements you can do without even looking at the HS machines but yes, those are an option also.

Why stay away from all barbell work at this stage? I agree, the barbell limits progress in the long run if that is all you stick with for size, but using it in addition to other movements is just fine.

[quote]OrangeWolverine wrote:
So I have been using dumbbells (flat/incline/decline) for my chest routine lately because my elbows hurt on regular bench. My arms fatigue way before my chest muscles do. I feel like I need something else other than flyes to finish my chest day off (I already do flyes). Are the hammer strength machines worth a try? I use the smith machines sometimes because that doesn’t hurt as much.

Thanks for any help. [/quote]

I have a client with constant elbow issues, and pressing heavy just set 'em on fire. As such, employing a basic pre-exhaust approach (cables, or DB flyes) before pressing not only knocks his workable weights down (less pain in the elbow) but allows him to feel his pecs working better. The approach is not about ‘finishing off’, but more about getting a quality growth producing workout (the goal of any good program).

IMO there’s no such things as exercises for ‘mass’ or ‘shape’ or any of that nonsense that used to get battered around in the 80’s. A muscle either works hard, or it doesn’t. Yes, a compound movement will hit multiple muscle groups, but if your chest is the issue, then simply employ whatever approach allows you to train it in an efficient manner. My chest looked light years better when I relied more on cables and isolation work with limited pressing at the end, than when I used to press heavy as 90% of my chest day.

Also, as was mentioned, ensure that you’re employing proper form to engage the pecs and not rely on the delts or arms as much.

S

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Flyes should only really be used as a finishing exercise. They are not for all out muscle mass.

Why only use dumbbells?

There are tons of movements you can do without even looking at the HS machines but yes, those are an option also.

Why stay away from all barbell work at this stage? I agree, the barbell limits progress in the long run if that is all you stick with for size, but using it in addition to other movements is just fine.

[/quote]

I do flyes at the very end and realize that they aren’t a mass builder. I stay away from barbell work because heavy pressing hurts my elbows. No elbow pain with dumbbells though, and minimal elbow pain on the smith machine.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

IMO there’s no such things as exercises for ‘mass’ or ‘shape’ or any of that nonsense that used to get battered around in the 80’s. A muscle either works hard, or it doesn’t.
S[/quote]

While I agree that you can’t “shape” a muscle, some movements like flyes should not be considered primary mass builders because without massively strong supporting muscles, you simply can not move enough weight to stimulate enough muscle growth.

That is how the flye got its label as a “shaping” exercise when that term really just meant that it is great at the end of a workout to bring more blood into the area and for overall volume.

[quote]OrangeWolverine wrote:

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Flyes should only really be used as a finishing exercise. They are not for all out muscle mass.

Why only use dumbbells?

There are tons of movements you can do without even looking at the HS machines but yes, those are an option also.

Why stay away from all barbell work at this stage? I agree, the barbell limits progress in the long run if that is all you stick with for size, but using it in addition to other movements is just fine.

[/quote]

I do flyes at the very end and realize that they aren’t a mass builder. I stay away from barbell work because heavy pressing hurts my elbows. No elbow pain with dumbbells though, and minimal elbow pain on the smith machine.[/quote]

Then I would stick with the smith, dumbbells and HS machines.

See if you can get that area to to possibly decrease in pain by finding out if it is a problem with weaker triceps.

Make sure you are keeping your forearms perpendicular to the ground. Tilting your forearms inward toward your body will shift the load to the triceps.

You can also try pre-exausting.

start your chest routine with 4 sets on the pec dec and see if that helps. Really squeeze each rep at the top.

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
start your chest routine with 4 sets on the pec dec and see if that helps. Really squeeze each rep at the top.[/quote]

I actually already do this. Love it.

[quote]OrangeWolverine wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
start your chest routine with 4 sets on the pec dec and see if that helps. Really squeeze each rep at the top.[/quote]

I actually already do this. Love it.[/quote]

then I’m fresh out of ideas.

Having said that, a lot of elbow issues are caused by compensation for poor upper back strength and mobility so that might be something you should look into.

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]OrangeWolverine wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
start your chest routine with 4 sets on the pec dec and see if that helps. Really squeeze each rep at the top.[/quote]

I actually already do this. Love it.[/quote]

then I’m fresh out of ideas.

Having said that, a lot of elbow issues are caused by compensation for poor upper back strength and mobility so that might be something you should look into.[/quote]

…or TRICEPS.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]OrangeWolverine wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
start your chest routine with 4 sets on the pec dec and see if that helps. Really squeeze each rep at the top.[/quote]

I actually already do this. Love it.[/quote]

then I’m fresh out of ideas.

Having said that, a lot of elbow issues are caused by compensation for poor upper back strength and mobility so that might be something you should look into.[/quote]

…or TRICEPS.[/quote]

well obviously, but I assumed he would’ve already thought of that

would you consider yourself chest dominate, or shoulder dominate, by the look of your build and how easy or hard the muscles are to build, you should be able to tell. Anyways we’ve found that guys who are shoulder dominate do well with prexhaust routines.

If you lay on the bench staition with a pair of DBs do 10-15 flyes to fail, than slide up and unrack the bench do your 6-12, than same sort of thing with incline. Same thing works with pec deck and smith press, like rds said. it’s hell on your ego, but if your a BBer it’s muscle your after, and if your shoulder dominate you can impress people on shoulder day with big overhead pressing.

As far as sore elbows, have you tried laying off tricept ext. for a while, it’s pretty common at a certain level of strength for ext. to start becomming your foe, most BBer’s I know had to rethink their tricept training, at a certain strength, so mabey your there, I’m sure others here know of this as well. Try laying off tricepts all togeather for a couple weeks, and than rethink from there. goodluck

Elbow injuries often occur when your arm is fixed into a set position so avoid using bars for a while. This isn’t just for chest exercises but also things like pullups, chinups, barbell curls, and of course if you are doing skull crushers stop immediately.

As some have mentioned pre exhaust your chest first then proceed to dumbbell presses and cable presses etc…
Don’t worry about the weight so much moreso the squeeze. At the end of each dumbbell press squeeze the hell out of your pecs by pushing the dumbbells together.

At the end of your session do some rope pushdowns for around 12-15 reps. Not heavy though just enough to get a good pump with perfect form and pause on the extension briefly to squeeze the hell out of your triceps. Wait about 45 seconds or less if you like and do it again.
Do 3 or 4 sets of this then drop the weight right down and do one arm push downs holding both ropes in a neutral grip. Do 12-15 reps right hand then 12-15 left. Without rest go back to right then left and so on for 3 or 4 sets. Your triceps should be full of blood and on fire now.
IMO this is excellent for helping with elbow problems.

I would also advise getting treatment from a soft tissue specialist.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

IMO there’s no such things as exercises for ‘mass’ or ‘shape’ or any of that nonsense that used to get battered around in the 80’s. A muscle either works hard, or it doesn’t.
S[/quote]

While I agree that you can’t “shape” a muscle, some movements like flyes should not be considered primary mass builders because without massively strong supporting muscles, you simply can not move enough weight to stimulate enough muscle growth.

That is how the flye got its label as a “shaping” exercise when that term really just meant that it is great at the end of a workout to bring more blood into the area and for overall volume.[/quote]

Eh, I always maintained that you don’t need the ‘most weight possible’ to stimulate growth because there are many more factors involved (as you no doubt know). Additionally, it’s my thinking that flyes got labeled as a ‘shaping’ movement simply because if you consider the flat bench press for a moment, your hands are spaced apart, you’re on your back staring at the ceiling, and you’re not getting that really tight pec squeezing contraction that makes all the inner fibers and striations pop out.

Doing a flye though, or similarly a cable crossover, you get that deep deep stetch, as well as that fiber splitting contraction, which along with the hands coming closer together, gives the illusion of a rounder, shapelier, and if lean, fibrous muscle. Both movements are perfectly capable of forcing blood into the area and creating that engorged feeling we’ve all experienced, but IMO, it’s just another instance of skewed perception creating a false premise.

Not a horrible thing, and certainly not the only one amongst traditional bodybuilding dogma, but if you consider guys who actually developed much better chests (size and shape) via flye and cable dominant programs (I always use Ken Waller as my go-to example), it just reinforces what many kinesiologists and DPTs will tell you (and Yates as well); a muscle contracts fully, or it doesn’t.

Not looking to get into an argument, just throwing out my opinions.

S

Doing exercise first =/= that exercise is primary movement for day.

I always start chest workouts with pec dec for activation…even throw in a drop for good measure. Pressing strength hasn’t suffered at all, AND I connect with my chest better on all pressing movements after.

Why is this a “finishing movement” again?

OP, the mother of all chest workout finishing movements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09kPkRM8In4

Pump, failure, fascial stretching…an all around win.

Oh, and for your elbow pain, give this a thorough read:

[quote]jskrabac wrote:
Doing exercise first =/= that exercise is primary movement for day.

I always start chest workouts with pec dec for activation…even throw in a drop for good measure. Pressing strength hasn’t suffered at all, AND I connect with my chest better on all pressing movements after.

Why is this a “finishing movement” again?

OP, the mother of all chest workout finishing movements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09kPkRM8In4

Pump, failure, fascial stretching…an all around win. [/quote]

I agree with activating the chest at the start of the workout. If I don’t do flyes or hammer strength machine to warm up and “activate” my pecs, my chest workout is garbage.

Floor Press and Low Incline DB Press (15-20º) have done wonders for my chest when nothing seemed to work. Give them a try!