The way to perfect pecs outlined by two hunks
Wonder why Ranveer Singh was tearing his shirt off repeatedly in Raam-Leela? Wouldn't you if you had that chiseled chest and washboard abs?
The thing is, while the six-pack now seems within every avid gymmer's reach, few men seem to have perfected the art of carving their chest, often ending up with bulky man boobs.
Experts agree that a perfect musculus pectoralis takes work. Incidentally, that's the ancient Roman name for a twin pair of muscles — one fan shaped, another, thin and triangular — that make up a bulk of the chest. Here's a howto plan drafted by two TOI readers, who we shortlisted as experts for their mythological pecs.
Sumeet Verma, 27 Aspiring actor
When Sumeet Verma began his quest for a dream bod, his trainer put him on a plan of six small meals to be eaten every three hours. Verma does this while managing a two-hour gap before weight training, and three before a cardio session.
He pairs carbohydrates with protein (chicken, roti and sabzi) and protein with fat (fried fish). Carbs with fat (bread and cheese) are a no. "A ridiculous diet followed by a binge is useless. Choose a menu you know you'll follow for the rest of your life," suggests Verma. He says the trick is to understand your body, giving it what it needs and knowing where to draw the line. Verma's breakfast includes five egg whites, one yolk, poha or upma and fruit. Lunch/dinner is fish/ chicken with brown rice or chapati. A case of the munchies is solved by snacking on dry fruit. He allows himself one 'cheat meal' every fortnight to indulge his cravings.
A word of caution, for couch potatoes with dreams of a Stallone-esque physique: it's best to ease into a fitness routine and slowly progress to mean-machine workout plans.
Verma works out four days a week, and divides his regime into 45 minutes of cardio in the morning, and an hour of weight training in the evening. Look in the mirror to know your strengths and weaknesses, he advises. "My upper chest was weak, so I avoided the decline bench press (torso above shoulders) and chose a 45 degree incline."
While repetition is key, one must never compromise on form. Reps should be in the ratio of 12:10:6, offers Verma. His meter to decide on weights is this: If you can do 15 at one go, it's too light. If you can't do more than two or three, it's too heavy. The workout should last for an hour at best, and save room for 45-second rest breaks between sets, and two minutes between variations. Don't forget to stay hydrated. "Understand your body. Trainers will will push you because it's their job. You must know when to stop."
Mithun Rodwittiya, 35 Business head with a social media firm
A self-confessed fitness freak, Rodwittiya believes in holistic healthy living. And this includes not drinking or smoking.
What he doesn't compromise on however, is food. "I don't starve, am non-vegetarian and like my dose of meat every day," he says. Breakfast includes four eggs, and all his meals are cooked in olive oil.
Meal timings, he says, should be like clock-work. For him, lunch is at noon, snacks arrive at 4.30 pm and dinner is polished off by 7.30 pm.
Rodwittiya says his daily workout is about functionality and endurance. "I refrain from repeating the same routine. Every exercise is preceded by push-ups, pull-ups or a go on the parallel bars." Basic strength exercises for the chest include Flys (arm is moved at an arc keeping the elbow at a constant, using a dumbbell, butterfly machine or cable machine) and the Bench Press for weight training. "After the Bench Press, I follow it up with a Chin-Up to stretch the pecs to the fullest," he says.
Why it doesn't come easy
A healthy heart is aprerequisite to undergo strenuous pectoral workouts. According to the Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding co-authored by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins, building well-shaped chest muscles takes more than just performing bench presses week after week. Gaining chest muscle mass not only requires training the chest using a variety of different exercises and angles, but also strengthening the shoulders and back muscles to support your chest training and create balance. The execution of chest exercises is critical and the complexity is what most men find difficult. A high protein diet is a must else all the hours you put in at the gym will be in vain. Muscle isolation, or working on a specific area only, patience and repetition.