Expect Pec Work with Age
It’s not about how much you can bench press as you get older. Bench press is good for building pec, delt, triceps mass in the early stages of one’s development but its usefulness doesn’t last. And it’s a good idea not to get your pecs too big, especially lower pecs. Why?
With aging, muscles inevitably shrink, and bigger muscle masses can shrink more leaving behind tissues that do not shrink as much like the skin. Any part of the body that gets too big and then shrinks will leave loose skin in its way. Not only that, but the skin itself changes, it becomes thinner. As younger bodybuilders strive to develop ‘thin skin’ it’s already happening in older bodybuilders because the epidermis gets thinner. Compounded with shrinking muscles can leave a condition not seen in youth.
So, what to do? Don’t get big pecs in the first place. What if you already did? Then you gotta work pecs with the right exercises on a regular basis. This is the situation I’m in and pec work has become a major part of my upper body workout. It’s because I do not wasn’t to develop man boobs. I’ve seen some of my contemporaries with this condition and it isn’t pretty. And it’s not for me.
Here’s what I do:
I’ve found a bunch of exercises I can do on machines that don’t hurt my shoulders and they are pec deck, dip machine, and incline press on a machine or, more recently barbell incline press. I’m training pecs once a week and it’s working because I’m keeping my bodyweight light. It would be even more productive to work on them twice a week, but with archery it’s enough for my shoulders and is working.
My first exercise is incline press. A better way to isolate upper pecs is using dumbbells for incline press holding a neutral grip. This permits lower stretching and really targets the pecs.
The pec deck is next for me, and I have a good one that gets both my inner and outer pecs since I have it loaded with rubber bands increasing tension at the end of the movement. My V-1 machine is banded on it’s weight stack and makes the use of real heavy weights necessary and is easier on the joints and gives a better pump. On all these exercises I keep the reps in the 6 to 12 range working up in weight and down in reps for 3 sets.
If you don’t have access to a good pec deck, then dumbbell flyes on a slight decline is best. Maybe it’s better than pec deck if you do it right, stretching deep down on each rep.
The other exercise I like for pecs is parallel dips on a dip machine. This machine is also cable loaded giving great resistance as the cable stretches. I do higher reps here and might do 15, 12, 10 reps as I increase weight.
Sometimes I superset dips with triceps press-down since dips work the triceps very strongly. It’s the exercise that leads me into triceps work, which is what I usually work next in my chest routine, this is usually parallel dips done on my dip machine. I do slow negatives and get a good soft lockout. I hold this for a second to tense my triceps and also my pecs. It’s a good way to finish off pec work.