The Path To Pec Perfection: Troy Alves’ USA Chest Routine
By Sammi Michaels
When you look at brand new I.F.B.B. pro Troy Alves, the first thing that jumps out at you is, well, nothing. Like many of the top shorter pros who came before him, see Lee Labrada, Shawn Ray and Dexter Jackson, Troy’s body looks good from every angle. Three-dimensional symmetry is the only way that this group of superior short men can compete with the monsters. And make no mistake about it, Alves has it.
“Smart” Symmetry Through Visualization and Feel
Troy is a bodybuilder who is very realistic about his physique.
“Symmetry came to me through recognizing my weaknesses and working them with maximum intensity to bring them in line with the rest of my physique. People are really surprised to learn that my chest was in that category. If you look at pictures of me from my early competing days, my delts and arms overshadowed my chest, big time.”
Troy turned a less than perfect pec area into a competitor crunching chest through several techniques. Most importantly, Troy is a huge believer in visualization. Every rep of every set he employs extreme focus on the muscle group being worked and has a vivid mental picture of what he wants that muscle to look like.
“Months before my win at the 2002 USA, I told my coach, Larry Pepe, that I had a very clear picture of what my body would look like onstage with everything we were doing all year and then precontest. While the ultimate condition he got me to was even better, I saw the body I had visualized staring at me in the mirror about four weeks before the show! I don’t think people realize how incredibly powerful your mind can be in bodybuilding.”
With the outcome already pictured in his mind, Troy attacks his chest with one thing in mind, feel.
“Bodybuilding isn’t about how much weight you can lift so you can feed your ego. It’s about feeling the muscle that your training work on every single rep. When I started doing that, my weights originally went down a bit, but now I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I attribute that to two things, time and two SprayFlex products, Extreme GH and Extreme Test. They are very unique and they make a big difference.”
Troy’s Tried and True Chest Routine
Troy stresses visualization and feel in his own training and with his personal training clients in sunny Arizona. Troy’s clientele includes Sacramento Kings superstar guard Mike Bibby as well as actor and legitimate martial arts phenom Michael Jai White, who made the Spawn character famous. Clearly, top performers from all fields know that Troy’s methods work. And after you apply his techniques to your training, you will too. Let’s get started!
Troy trains his chest once per week, and alternates between two different workouts. This way, again stressing symmetrical development, Troy can put more focus on the upper pec in one session and the mid pec in the next. Here’s how the two days breakdown:
Chest Day 1:
Flat Barbell Bench Press 3 sets, 6-8 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 sets, 10 reps
Flat “Fly Press” 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Chest Day 2:
Incline Barbell Press 3 sets, 6-8 reps
Flat Dumbbell Press 3 sets, 10 reps
Incline “Fly Press” 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Flat Barbell Bench Press or Incline Barbell Press
Troy is a believer in the old standby, the barbell bench press. However, a slight change in his form several years ago made a big difference.
“I used to bring the bar down to my lower pec, basically hitting the nipple area on each rep. When I noticed that my upper pec was very flat in comparison to my lower pec, I started bringing the bar down to my upper pec, just beneath my neck. It’s very important, for both safety and development reasons, to really control the weight when you do the movement this way, so I usually take about two seconds on both the positive and negative portions of each rep.”
Troy favors a shoulder-width grip on his barbell pressing movements. He’ll begin with a few warmup sets, then perform three working sets of six to eight reps, usually finishing with 455 for six reps!
On Troy’s alternate chest day, the flat barbell press is eliminated in favor of the incline version. The form is the same here, still bringing the bar to the upper pec and performing the reps in a very controlled fashion on both the positive and negative portions of the rep. Troy will perform three working sets of six to eight reps, finishing with 405 for six reps!
Incline Dumbbell Press or Flat Dumbbell Press
Sticking with the basics, Troy will next move to a dumbbell pressing movement for the area of the pec he hasn’t worked yet. So, on the days he does flat barbell presses he will do incline dumbbell presses and on the days when incline barbell presses are preformed he will do flat dumbbell presses.
For incline dumbbell presses, Troy will set the adjustable incline bench to a low setting.
“If I set the incline too high on these it becomes very difficult to isolate my shoulders out of the movement and keep the focus on the upper pec. However, even with the low incline, by bringing the dumbbells down to the upper, outer portion of my chest, I feel the upper pec fibers working on every rep.”
When he does the flat version of this movement, the form is the same with the only difference being the use of a flat bench.
On both movements, Troy again makes sure to use a very controlled pace and doesn’t do anything fancy. The dumbbells are facing forward, forming a straight line, throughout the entire movement. After a quick warmup set, Troy will work with 120 to 150-pound dumbbells for three sets of ten reps.
Flat “Fly Press” or Incline “Fly Press”
Troy’s offseason chest sessions will finish with either the flat or incline variety of what he calls ‘fly presses.” Troy will begin the movement with the dumbbells over his chest and a slight bend in the elbow. Unlike the conventional dumbbell press he just performed, his hands are facing each other, as if he were going to do flys. However, Troy will bring the dumbbells straight down to the sides of his chest and then very, very slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position squeezing every rep, every inch of the way. The focus on the pec is so extreme and the rep speed is so slow that Troy will use 50-pound dumbbells on this movement for about eight to ten reps.
“By the time I finish these my chest is totally engorged with blood and I feel like I can feel every fiber.”
Additional Precontest Exercises
When Troy begins his precontest assault twelve weeks before a show, he adds a superset to the mix, cable crossovers and pushups.
“I’ll do slow, grinding sets of fifteen pushups after each set of cables. These ‘precontest supersets’ finish my workout with a crazy pump and etch in that last bit of contest winning detail.”
On the cable crossovers, Troy will perform three sets of twelve to fifteen reps, squeezing every rep and holding for a count of two in the fully flexed position. He makes sure to control the handles as he brings them back to the starting position, again focusing on both the positive and negative portions of each striation enhancing rep.
As Troy graduates to the I.F.B.B. pro ranks, he brings a shredded, symmetrical physique that both judges and fans will respect and admire. His chest training philosophy has yielded a full, evenly developed pec area complete with clean lines and full, high-quality, grainy muscle. And Troy is anxious to put that development onstage with the world’s best.
“I respect everyone who has made it to the pro level, but I don’t fear anyone. I worked hard and long to get my pro card and I think I got it at the prefect time. My body has matured into a pro body and the I.F.B.B. judging standards seem to be rewarding shorter, symmetrical guys like me if we’re in great shape. Honestly, I can’t wait to get up there and see what happens.”
You can reach Troy for guest posings, appearances, sponsorship inquiries or personal training at this website, www.TroyAlves.com. You can learn about the SprayFlex products Troy uses at www.SprayFlex.com.