Bodybuilders of the ’70s liked to stretch and flex the muscles they were training between sets, believing it enhanced growth. What they stumbled upon has been refined into a formal muscle-building protocol by Hany Rambod, trainer to many of today’s top champions including Mr. Olympia winners Phil Heath and Jay Cutler. Here, we use his FST-7 method to pack new meat on your pecs. It’s the easiest way to build a more imposing upper body and transform the way you look in everything from t-shirts to sweatshirts. Plus, if it works for guys like Magic Mike‘s Joe Manganiello and X-Men‘s Hugh Jackman, it’ll work for you.


After pounding the pectorals with some conventional chest exercises, we finish them off with FST-7, which stands for “Fascial Stretch Training” done for seven sets. Fascial refers to the fascia, the web-like connective tissue that envelopes each muscle. Picture that thin layer that covers a skinless chicken breast—that’s the same stuff. By stretching the fascia, you create more room for the muscles to grow. By flexing, you’ll drive more nutrient-filled blood into the muscles to enhance gains.

Every set should be taken to near failure. For the cable crossover, alternate stretching and then flexing your pecs between sets. So you’ll complete a set and then stretch for 30 seconds, then do another set and flex for 30 seconds. After the stretch/flex, you can rest up to 45 seconds. For the stretch, rest your forearms against a doorframe, or use the beams of a power rack, and lean forward. To flex, tense your pecs isometrically.

Sets: 4 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a 30-to 45-degree incline, and roll it into the center of a Smith machine rack. Grasp the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar, lower it to the upper part of your chest, and press straight up.

Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights at shoulder level and then press the weights straight over your chest.

Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your wrists so your palms face each other. Press the weights straight over your chest and then, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, spread your arms open as if you were going for a big bear hug. Lower your arms until you feel a stretch in your pecs and then bring the weights back together over your chest.

Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows about 45 degrees to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up.

Sets: 7 Reps: 10 Rest: 30–45 seconds
Stand between two facing cable stations with both pulleys set midway between the top and bottom of the station. Attach a D-handle to each pulley and hold one in each hand. Keep your elbows slightly bent and step forward so there’s tension on the cables. Flex your pecs as you bring your hands together out in front of your chest. Alternate stretching and flexing after each set.


If you’ve been working out for a while, this routine will probably remind you of some of the chest sessions you did in the early days. It’s good, old-fashioned hard work and provides a lot of isolation of the pecs. If you’ve gotten more scientific with your training since and noticed fewer gains, this simple and direct approach may be what you need to get growing again.


When a muscle contracts, the whole thing contracts. So when you hear trainers talking about exercises for the “upper” pecs and “inner” pecs, this isn’t entirely accurate. However, while the whole pectoralis major muscle is involved in any kind of press, dip, or flye motion, different parts of it are indeed emphasized depending on the angle of resistance. So while an incline dumbbell press will work the whole chest, it’s making the fibers that attach to your clavicle work harder than the ones that attach to your ribs. We’ve given you exercises that work every part of the chest and with varying degrees of isolation. If you don’t normally feel your pecs working on barbell presses, you’ll love what dumbbell and machine work does for you.

Stop each set a rep or two short of failure. Feel free to combine the workout with Option A, shown previously. The two routines fit well together but should be spaced three days apart.

Sets: 4 Reps: 8 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Press the weights over your chest.

Sets: 4 Reps: 8 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Use a Hammer Strength flat-press machine if you can and adjust the seat so that both of your feet are flat on the floor. Grasp the handles and press to a full lockout.

Sets: 3 Reps: 8 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and spread your arms wide, lowering the weights until they’re even with your chest. Flex your pecs and lift the weights back to the starting position.

Sets: 3 Reps: 8 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Stand between two facing cable stations and attach a D-handle to the low pulleys on each. With a handle in each hand and elbows slightly bent, raise your arms from waist height to out in front of your chest, flexing your pecs as you bring them together.

5. DIP
Sets: 4 Reps: 8 Rest: 60–90 sec.
Suspend yourself over the bars of a dip station and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. If eight reps is too easy, add weight using a weighted belt or by holding a dumbbell between your feet.

By Hany Rambod