It’s always interesting to me to ask the various champions I interview how they prefer to train their chest muscles because chest has always been a difficult muscle group for me to develop. I always want to know what the other guys are doing. You never know when you might pick up something new that will help.
Some guys are power freaks, and will mostly handle monstrous poundages for low reps. Bertil Fox comes to mind as one pro who trains his chest this way. Then there are those who prefer light weight, high reps and lots and lots of sets. Serge Nubret is probably the best example of this mode of training. Without a doubt, though the preferred method of training chest is to use a variety of movements to hit the chest from various angles and to vary the reps from low to high. This approach seems to ensure that you hit all parts of the chest and the various muscle fiber types.
For Alq Gurley, Mr. Universe and recent third-place finisher at the Pro Ironman Invitational in February (which qualified him for the Mr. Olympia contest this fall), chest work is a combinations of the last two types of training. Like Serge Nubret he does plenty of sets — about 25 sets per chest workout — but he generally keeps his reps in the 10 to 12 range. He doesn’t pyramid down to heavy sets of five or six reps, as he worries about possible career-threatening injuries. And he doesn’t go up to 15 and 20 reps a set like Nubret, because he feels 10-12 reps are best for mass.