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The Best Chest Workout for Wide and Square Pecs

Mark Kislich explains what he learned from Jay Cutler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charles Poliquin about Building Muscle Fast.

What I learned from Jay Cutler, Arnold, and Charles Poliquin about building muscle is this: they all like to use supersets, giant sets, and tri-sets. The advantages are many:

  • You get a HUGE pump
  • It is very time efficient, a lot of work is squeezed into very little time
  • Done right, you make use of the pre-exhaustion phenomenon as well as the post exhaustion effect!

Arnold was the first to introduce this training technique to the mainstream bodybuilding crowd way back when, and it is incredible how far, far ahead of his times Arnie was, like, 30 years ago.

Please make no mistake about it: the following are some of the most cutting-edge and effective muscle building strategies out there today.

If something repeatedly works for natural athletes as measurable by strength levels, inches, and when all is said and done by great looks, then it will work for everybody, every time.

Even professional bodybuilders like Jay Cutler use this principle because of the pump it provides, giving more nutrients to the muscles and stretching out the muscle's fascia to create more growing space.

In this article, I would like to introduce one of my most favourite tri-sets for packing on muscle fast, in this instance for the chest.

You can naturally use the same principle for any old body part, that is not a problem, feel free to experiment, as that kind of approach will also provide the much-needed variation. These frequent changes give a fresh stimulus to both the body keeping adaptation going and the mind. Training never has to be boring.

If you then throw in some advanced training strategies like agonist/antagonist alternation and reverse insertion exercises, your results will go through the roof.

Note: Reverse insertion exercises are a specialized approach to maximizing muscle "damage", resulting in increased hypertrophy (muscle growth). A good example is super-setting close-grip chin-ups with flat bench curls for biceps. Here the muscle will be trained in the stretch position as well as the contracted position, again providing the highest possible growth stimulus.

We will also do a high lactate finisher after every workout, boosting HGH to maximum levels and we all know what that means: anti-catabolic, fat-burning = lean and ripped muscle mass.

Altogether we will utilize some or all of the following:

  • Pump the muscles into oblivion
  • Pre-exhaust and post-exhaust them
  • Do one heck of a lot of work in a very short time
  • Train in the shortened as well as the lengthened positions
  • Use the Reverse Insertion principle
  • Boost HGH (human growth hormone) with effective finishers.

A lot of guys seem to have trouble building their chest, so allow me to introduce my infamous Chest Tri Set.

This exercise is centered around one that Arnold was using and teaching 30 years ago, and it will do this: the outer, or lateral, fibres of the pectoralis major are built up, and the whole structure is flattened out simultaneously, resulting in that attractive wide, square look the ladies love. Additionally, your shoulders will be spared the strain of heavy benching.

There is yet another benefit to this workout: it is all done on one single station, an adjustable incline bench, and with the same pair of dumbbells. That means even in a busy gym you need not worry about standing in line for your equipment, because you can stay with your station throughout the whole short and very effective workout.

Genetics be damned

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franko Columbu used this exercise that I call the Arnie Dumbbell Flies, and they both had incredibly broad pecs. It did the same for me and will work for anybody who applies it.

Let us hear what Arnie has to say about it:

"They stretch the rib cage and build the outer pectorals. They're one of my favourite exercises and have had the best effect on my pectoral muscles, causing them to grow wide and low, with a lot of definition ... Doing a fly is like hugging a large tree. You make a wide circle with the dumbbells.

A lot of the guys do it with the weight so close to the pecs that it becomes a pressing movement. Be sure to get a full stretch by lowering the dumbbells as far as possible on each repetition ... I rarely see anybody using the correct form. But people I have taught to do it the right way have developed incredibly huge pecs. One of them is Franko Columbu."

Another thing about chest workouts: if you just build up the pecs any old how you might well end up with a droopy-booby kind of look. I do not know about you, but I do not think that looks any good at all, big chest or not.

So build up the chest, yes, but in all the right places, for sure. This Chest Tri Set will do just that for you, and I will present the workout in this order: Notation, Table, and Explanation.

The Arnie Flys Chest Tri Set


  1. Arnie Flys, 3-5 x 10-15 reps, 1010 tempo, 10 seconds rest
  2. Incline Dumbbell Presses, 3-5 x 15-20 reps, 1010, 10 seconds rest
  3. Arnie Flys, 3-5 x 8-10 reps, 1010 tempo, 120 seconds rest.


Repeat Tri-Set Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
Arnie Flys 3-5 10-15 1010 10 seconds
Dumbbell Incline Presses 3-5 15-20 1010 10 seconds
Arnie Flys 3-5 8-10 1010 120 seconds


Grab the adjustable bench and a pair of dumbbells.

Begin with the Arnie Flys by pumping out 10-15 repetitions in a smooth and controlled manner. The 1010 tempo means lower for 1 second, zero pause at the bottom, so reverse direction immediately and raise for one second, with zero pause at the top of the movement, going directly into the next repetition. That translates into 10-15 smooth and continuous repetitions.

Now you take a 10-second pause, in which you adjust the bench to a 45-degree angle, and then it is right into the incline dumbbell presses: 15-20 repetitions at the same, smooth 1010 tempo. Lower the weights as far as possible for a max stretch. Set done. 10 seconds pause, and now you repeat the first exercise - Arnie Flys once again, for presumably only about 8-10 repetitions, since your pecs are already pre-exhausted.

Repeating the Flys twice means you emphasize the most important exercise for a maximized training effect.

Now take a short, 2-minute rest before doing the whole thing again another 2-4 times, for a total of 3-5 sets.

That is all, and it would take approximately 25-30 minutes at the most (for 5 sets), outside of warm-up.

The Warm-Up

Warming up is very important. The primary cause of injury in the weights room is either a complete lack of warm-up or doing the wrong one. In this example here, we can keep it relatively simple though: I would recommend using the same weight, doing some five reps for each exercise in a row. Then take a breather for a minute and away we go. That is alright here since the intensity (the weight) is relatively low, and consequently so is the injury risk.

How much weight?

Use approximately 15% of your flat bench max each hand/dumbbell. So, say you can do 220 pounds on the bench for a single max rep, you would use 22-pound dumbbells. That is all you need.

The Arnie Flys

I would just like to add two things:

  1. The elbows should remain locked at a 30-degree angle, and the stretch in the bottom position is to be emphasized.
  2. I like to hold the stretch for some 2-3 seconds in the bottom position on the last rep of the set.

Arnold points out in "The Education of a Bodybuilder" that in this particular exercise, the pecs are stretched out so well that you do not need to stretch them anymore afterward.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • KISLICH, M. (2013) The Best Chest Workout for Wide and Square Pecs [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Mark Kislich is from Iceland and works with Olympic and other elite athletes as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. He keeps fit with weight training and judo.