1/4 Rep Pump Out Method for Chest Day
Chest workout that incorporates a variety of different 1/4 rep methods on heavy compound
movements to stress the pecs and get an unreal pump.
Do you ever find your self in the odd predicament of doing a tough chest workout but not getting
sore in your pecs? I’ve heard many lifters complain that even during heavy bench press they
feel fatigued in the triceps and delts but never really get a good chest pump. Sometimes the
issue is that the lifter is not lowering the weight far enough. The bottom portion of any chest
press is where you will utilize your pecs the most, as the triceps shoulder most of the load (pun
intended) during the top part of the lockout. Another issue has to do with the nature of pressing
movements and the muscles that are utilized. In simple terms, any chest press variation - from
bench to dips to pushups - utilizes the pecs, the front delts, the triceps, and the lats (primarily to
stabilize the shoulder). Because the pecs are such a large muscle when compared to the
triceps, it is common for a lifter to get stuck half way up as their triceps fatigue or are over
loaded. So if in many cases the triceps are the “weak link”, how do we stress the pecs
sufficiently before the triceps give out and prematurely end the set?
The answer is 1/4 reps. A typical quarter rep involves adding an additional partial rep at the
bottom of the movement. Quarter rep variations are a great way to emphasize the “bottom”
portion of a passing movement, giving the pecs an extra pump and stretch where they are
utilized the most. The key to any 1/4 rep pressing variation is to lower the weight under control -
don’t just drop and bounce the weight off of your chest. Concentrate on the stretch you feel at
the bottom thru out the pecs and fight for stability when holding the weight at the 1/4 rep point.
Here are just a few ways that you can utilize quarter reps during pressing exercises:
1/4 rep at the bottom
This is the basic 1/4 rep method. Start by doing a normal eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift.
Once you have reached the bottom (or the top in an exercise such as a dumbbell row), press
the weight up one quarter of the way, then pause briefly before lowering the weight back down
then exploding all the way up. During a chest press it will feel like an extra stretch at the
bottom, when utilized during a dumbbell row it will feel like an extra squeeze at the top.
Iso-1/4 rep at the bottom - This is similar to a basic 1/4 rep, except that you will perform it in iso-
rep fashion. Start by pressing both weights up to the starting position and locking them into
place. Keeping one dumbbell extended, lower the other side and perform a quarter rep at the
bottom. Once you have completed the 1/4 rep, lock the dumbbell into place at the top position
and perform the 1/4 rep on the other side. Alternate sides with every rep until the prescribed
number has been reached. It’s very important to keep your hips and glutes engaged and your
feet pressed into the floor in order to avoid getting off balance during an iso-press movement.
Misdirection 1/4 rep method - The misdirection method was first taught to me as a way to
eliminate weak points during squatting by one of my mentors, Dr Eric Serrano. For this method
you are essentially combining 1/4 reps with 1/2 reps, with a swift change of direction between
each. Start by lowering the weight all the way, then press up to the 1/4 rep position and hold for
2 seconds. Lower the weight all the way and quickly press up to the 1/2 way point, holding
static for two seconds. After the pause at the 1/2 way point, lower the weight all the way then
press all the way up. That’s a lot of work for 1 rep!
1/4 rep Ladder Method - Ok...now we are starting to get crazy. As if doing a 1/4 rep on every
rep wasn’t tough enough, imagine adding more and more with each additional rep. The tempo
on these reps is the same as a normal 1/4 rep (down, up 1/4, down, up) but you perform then in
a “ladder” fashion, adding an additional 1/4 rep after each rep you complete. The first rep has a
single 1/4 rep at the bottom, the second has two, the third rep has 3 quarter reps at the bottom
before pressing the weight all of the way back up. These quarter reps are best done in a “rep
out” fashion, there’s no need to pause at the 1/4 position, just try to pump them out as possible
and press back up to the top. One of my favorite ways to utilize this method is to keep the
ladder open ended - keep upping the ante and doing reps until you are burnt out. If you can
make it all the way up to 10 or more pushups with a corresponding number of quarter reps, your
chest will be on fire!
1/4 rep Time Ladder Method - This is another Ladder variation for 1/4 reps, but rather than
adding an additional 1/4 rep with each successive rep, you hold the 1/4 position for an additional
second. On the first rep go down, up 1/4 of the way and hold for 1 second before going down
and back up. On the second rep hold for 2 seconds, on the third rep hold at the 1/4 position for
3 seconds before going back down and up, and so on. Continue this pattern until you can no
longer hold the 1/4 rep position for the corresponding time.
Now it’s time to put all of those different methods to use! Try this 1/4 centric chest workout for
an incredible pump.
1. DB Chest Press
1 x 10
2 x 5
1 x 5 with a 1/4 rep at the bottom
1 x 3 with a 1/4 rep at the bottom
2. Incline DB Iso press
4 x 5 each side with an Iso-1/4 rep at the bottom of each
3. Close Grip Bench Press
3 x 3 using the “misdirection 1/4 rep method”
Tempo: down/up 1/4 of the way/down/up half way/down/all the way up
1 x max regular reps
1 x max reps with a quarter rep at the bottom of each rep
5. Push Ups
1 x max reps using the 1/4 rep Ladder Method
1 x max reps using the 1/4 rep Time Ladder Method
Now that you have a great cure for the lagging-pecs blues! I recommend switching to an all 1/4
rep workout at least once a month to help break thru plateaus and to really stress emphasize
the pecs during your “pushing” work. Remember, now that you are familiar with all of these
methods you can adapt and utilize them on almost any workout. If you want a real killer, try the
same format on squat variations...a barbell squat with a 1/4 rep misdirection method will make a
normal squat feel easy!
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