Sometimes you just want to go to the gym and get a great pump. On chest day, this often comes by way of doing a high rep finisher on the bench press, dips to failure, or even some super slow sets of cable crossovers. However, the around the world workout is an alternative you should consider.
The around the world workout starts off as a fairly “standard” strength-based hypertrophy chest workout. Start off with 2-3 compound exercises such as bench press (barbell or dumbbell), incline bench press (barbell or dumbbell), and / or weighted dips. Do these exercises for a total of 3 sets of 6-8 reps each.
After that, spend some time on on the around the world exercise to really finish the chest off. Though it can be a technique-intensive movement, it’s also a good way to keep constant tension on the chest, pump it full of blood, and improve muscle quality. Do 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps with a slow and controlled cadence.
The around the world exercise is not to be treated as a strength movement. Your leverage throughout the movement is minimal at best, and while this is what puts such great emphasis on the chest, it can also leave you open to injury. You can feel free to push your compound movements as hard and heavy as you like. But in this instance, check your ego at the door and keep the weight light.
One thing you want to try to make sure of is to keep your arms parallel to the ground throughout the movement. The area you’ll likely have the biggest issue with this is the latter half of the movement, when your arms go from perpendicular to your torso to pointing past your head.
The “top” position can be problematic because you may lack flexibility in the shoulders and/or lats to hold the weight out past your head with your arms horizontal. Instead, your arms will be above parallel, creating an angle of anywhere from 15-45 degrees with your head. Imagine where your arms would be in relation to your torso if you were doing a very steep incline bench press. Now picture that position, only you’re lying flat on your back.
If you have this problem, spend some time performing the around the world exercise with no weights at all. Get your shoulders and lats used to the movement pattern and range of motion. Using super light dumbbells (even as little as 5lbs) can help almost “force” you into the correct position, but not be so heavy that you risk injury.
It bears mentioning that with the around the world workout, tension is the primary focus. When you’re doing heavy benching or dips, the focus is on the weight and forcing muscle fibers to contract hard in order to move it. However, when doing the around the world exercise, the goal is to keep as much tension on the muscle as possible.
This is what will not only force more blood into the pecs for a better pump, but further exhaust muscle fibers that have not yet been fully utilized, yet. These two combined after heavy strength-based hypertrophy work is what can lead to new growth.
If it’s been too long since you’ve had a great pump or new growth in the pecs, give the around the world workout a shot. Just be sure to keep a strong mind-muscle connection when doing around the world exercise, focusing on tension and contraction. It’s a somewhat uncommon approach, but you’ll get a different type of pump than you get with other exercises, and it’ll be a way to add new muscle quality to the pecs.