Total Pec Development

A Hardgainer’s Guide

Forget what others are doing. What works for the genetically gifted, doesn’t work for the Hardgainer. When you’ve got to fight for every ounce of new muscle, you simply have to train harder and smarter than everyone else. Here are 5 sure fire steps to developing full rounded pecs as a Hardgainer.

5 Key Strategies For Renewed Growth

1. Prioritize Dips

Dips are a fantastic, yet little utilised chest developer. If you’re a Hardgainer you need to be making use of this exercise. Dips work your entire upper body, and, if you do them right, are the key to sculpting a full, thick chest. At the same time, they require core stabilization and recruit a whole host of synergistic (assisting) muscles, which gives your body a huge hormonal boost.

The real key to the effectivenesses of the dip as a chest exercise is that the exercise requires you to move your arms down rather than up. This, in effect, cuts the shoulders out of the equation, allowing for direct chest stimulation. To target your pecs when doing dips you need to keep your chin tucked in and lean forward as you go down. Don’t relegate dips to the end of your workout when you can only do a couple of reps. Put them in first place where they belong.

2. Ditch the Bar

Pressing movements still have a part to play in developing fullness in the chest, but the smart trainer will always favour dumbbells over the bar. The reason is obvious; dumbbells allow you to bring the dumbbells lower down past the level of your chest for a superior range of motion. In addition, they prevent one side from taking over when the reps get tough, ensuring even strength development. Dumbbells also recruit stabilizer muscles to hold the dumbbells in place throughout the movement.

3. Pre-Exhaust Your Chest

Have you ever noticed that your shoulders and triceps feel more of the effort when pressing than your chest does? That’s because they are smaller muscles groups, making them the weak links when you are pressing. As a result, the shoulders and triceps give out before the pecs are fully stimulated. To overcome this problem, you need to pre-exhaust your chest. Here’s how:

  1. Set up a pair of dumbells for flyes at the base of your bench. Have the bench press bar loaded with about 70% of the weight you would normally use for 8-10 reps.
  2. Perform a set of 12 flyes, concentrating on getting a full stretch across the chest.
  3. Drop the dumbbells and immediately move into the bench press for 8-10 reps.

Doing the above will temporarily make your chest the weak link on the pressing movement. Because it has been pre-exhausted, it will give out before the shoulders and triceps do. You won’t be able to lift as much weight, but your pecs will be doing a whole lot more work

4. Use Periodization

Mix it up between heavy training in the 4-8 rep range, medium to heavy (transfer) training in the 6-10 rep range, and light training with 10-15 reps. Do 2 weeks of each and you’ll be working all of your muscle fibres - fast and slow twitch in that 6 week period. When going heavy, rest for 2 minutes between sets, 1 minute for transfer training and 40 seconds for light training.

5. Max Out With Push Ups

They may not be as glamorous as some movements, but the good old fashioned push up is still the king of pec exercises. You need to finish every single workout with a single set of push ups to failure. Make sure that your form is on point and simply keep pushing them out until you’ve got nothing left in the tank. If you’ve been working as hard as you should have been during the preceding parts of the workout, you shouldn’t be able to get more than 20 solid reps.

One day per week you should also pump out a targeted number of push ups. Make it a non training day, preferably on the weekend. Set yourself a number to reach and get there in as few sets as possible. Rest no more than 60 seconds between sets. Start with 100 and build from there.


  • Hardgainers should build their chest program around dips
  • When pressing, use dumbbells rather than a straight bar
  • Make use of periodization and pre-exhaustion
  • On your off-day MAX out with push ups


Author: Steve Theunissen
Author Bio: Steve Theunissen is the Nutrition Souq Bodybuilding and Workouts Editor. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer. Steve is the author of 5 hard copy books and dozens of e-books on the subject of fitness, bodybuilding and weight loss.