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The Golden Era Chest Workout for Huge Pecs

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

If you're looking to pack on as much size as possible in your pecs, and you're wanting to train like the classic bodybuilders of the Golden Era (1950s-1970s), we've got the perfect workout for you.

In this post, I'll be sharing one of my all-time favorites when it comes to chest workouts. I sometimes do this routine when I need to get a quick workout in for the pecs, but don't have too much time to spare. Great for getting a pump and even better for seeing gains in the mirror.

The routine consists of just 4 exercises, but your chest is sure to be on fire by the end of this workout!

Very strong and muscular man doing barbell bench press to build strength and muscle in his pecs

The Workout

  • 5-10 Minute Warmup

  • Barbell Bench Press - 3 x 6-8

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 3 x 10-12

  • Weighted Dips - 3 x 8-10

  • Chest Flyes - 3 x 12-15

  • Post Workout

Ensure that you've had plenty to eat and plenty of water to drink prior to beginning this workout. Also, try to make sure to bring a water bottle with you so that you can keep yourself hydrated, energized and performing at your best!

The Warmup

To warm up for this workout, we recommend that you do a couple of sets of push ups or bodyweight dips to prep the chest, shoulders, elbows and wrists for the brutal workout you're about to take it through. Just do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, and you're good ready to move on.

Head into some dynamic stretching for the chest, such as cross body arm swings. Stretch for 3-5 minutes and you're ready to head to the bench press!

Barbell Bench Press

First up we have the flat barbell bench press. This is your classic upper body pressing movement, and is great for building both strength and muscle in the pecs, as well as the shoulders and triceps. For most people, this is going to be a staple in their training programs.

To do the barbell bench press:

  1. Try to have a spotter with you if you can.

  2. Lie down comfortably on the bench, with your head/neck and glutes on the bench, and feet on the ground.

  3. Grab onto the bar with a grip just outside of shoulder width, and wrap your thumb around the bar.

  4. Arch your back slightly so that it creates a gap between you and the bench (keep glutes on the bench).

  5. Lift the bar off the rack and bring it above your collarbone.

  6. Lower the bar down to your sternum in a controlled manner until it just touches your chest, and then press it back up with force.

  7. Keep three points of contact (head/neck and glutes on bench, and feet on the ground) throughout the entire range of motion.

  8. Repeat.

Check out the video below by CrossFit® to see a demonstration of this exercise!

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Next up, we have the incline dumbbell bench press. This is a great exercise to hit the upper portion of the chest, and really help get that well rounded, full looking chest that classic bodybuilders were so well known for. Doing the exercise with dumbbells just allows for more of a stretch on the pecs, and a better contraction of the muscles as well.

To perform the incline dumbbell bench press:

  1. Grab a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells

  2. Try to have a spotter with you here as well.

  3. Set the bench angle to anywhere between 15-30 degrees.

  4. Lie on the bench, and keep your three points of contact the same (head, glutes and feet).

  5. Kick the dumbbells up into your start position, which is with the dumbbells sitting in your hands next to your chest. (Bottom position)

  6. Arch your back to create that gap between you and the bench.

  7. Press the weight up, and squeeze the chest hard at the top.

  8. Bring the dumbbells a little closer together for a better contraction.

  9. Lower the weight back down with control until the dumbbells reach your chest level.

  10. Repeat.

See the awesome video below by Scott Herman to see what this looks like!

Weighted Dips

Next up we've got the weighted dip, or bodyweight if you're not yet strong enough to do them weighted.

This is a great exercise to hit the lower portion of the chest, with heavy involvement of the shoulders and triceps as well.

And while the focus is mainly on the lower chest, your upper chest is actually going to be working very hard as well. The dip is a fantastic movement for the upper body, especially the pecs.

To do it:

  1. Add some plates onto your dip belt if you're using one, or clench a dumbbell between your legs if you don't have a belt. Or just do them bodyweight.

  2. Get yourself up onto the parallel bars, either by jumping or using a footpad if your dip station has one.

  3. Lean forward a little, as this will shift the emphasis onto the chest and away from the triceps.

  4. Lower yourself down with control, and try to make the downward portion of the movement span 2-3 seconds.

  5. Do not go below 90 degree flexion of the elbows, as going too low will place unnecessary stress on the shoulders and can lead to injury over time.

  6. Pause at the bottom for one second, and then explode back up by driving your hands into the bars downwards.

  7. Squeeze hard at the top of the movement.

  8. Repeat.

Check out the video by Howcast to see a demonstration!

Chest Flyes

The final exercise for this workout is the chest fly. Now you can either do this on cables or with a pair of dumbbells. We'd recommend using cables as they provide more consistent tension on the pecs and are usually the better choice overall, but that's a choice for you to make.

Flyes are one of the only ways that you can isolate the chest, and are a great option as they allow for a great stretch and contraction, and train the pecs through a function that the bench press does not. For this, we recommend doing two sets of high to low flyes and one set of low to high flyes. Or, you can do it the other way around if you feel that your upper chest hasn't gotten enough attention. Either way will work fine.

To do the chest fly:

  1. Pick a light weight to use.

  2. Either lie on the bench at your chosen incline, or stand facing away from the cable machine, with the cables set high/low depending on the one you've chosen to go with.

  3. Grab the dumbbells/handles and bend your arms slightly. If you're on a machine, walk out away from the machine holding the handles until you feel a stretch at the starting position.

  4. Allow the weight to stretch your chest by pulling your arms back a little.

  5. Drive the weight forcefully by bring your arms across towards the mid line of your body, keeping your elbows slightly bent.

  6. Squeeze the chest as hard as you can. You can aid this by bringing the weight together.

  7. Lower the weight back down with control over 1-2 seconds.

  8. Feel the stretch in your chest.

  9. Repeat.

Check out the video below by Muscle Shocker to see what this looks like when done with dumbbells!

Or watch this video by Scott Herman to see a demonstration of the cable fly!

Post Workout

After your workout, don't forget to do your static stretching and foam rolling, as this will help alleviate some of the muscle tightness and soreness that you're likely to wake up with the following morning. You should also look to have a meal or a snack that's high in protein, as it'll help you make the most out of your hard work in the gym and keep your body growing, even when you've stopped working.

We hope you've enjoyed reading through this post, and about this awesome chest workout, straight out of the Golden Era of bodybuilding! It's definitely a favorite, and hopefully you'll like it as much as we do when you come to give it a try.

If you found this post interesting and liked the workout, consider sharing it with your friends so we can reach as many people as possible!


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