Max Muscle Growth Techniques for Upper Body (Plus 3 Sample Workouts)

Take your gains to the next level with these pain-producing muscle growth techniques. Plus, try these 3 sample workouts to annihilate your chest, delts, and biceps.

Many years ago I invented a little quote that expresses my basic philosophy when it comes to how one should approach their training if he/she truly desires to make significant progress: “If you want your muscles to grow, you cannot simply ‘whisper’ at that them – rather, you must SCREAM!”

In other words, if you are not prepared to push yourself to the max (both physically and mentally), enduring copious amounts of pain, strain, and exhaustion, then you more than likely will fall far short of your goals. And this is precisely the reason why there are literally millions of people toiling away in the gym, but so few truly impressive physiques walk out of them.

Now, if you are still reading this article, it is my guess that you possess the heart of a champion and are willing to withstand the pain that it takes to gain – and I mean GAIN BIG. In fact, you may even be the kind of person who thrives on the challenge of seeing just how far you can drive your muscles, mind, and body!

If that describes you, then let’s take a walk together directly into the PAIN ZONE, where your reward is a physique that is not just above average, but nothing less than “jaw-dropping!”

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

Pain-Producing Muscle Growth Techniques

Negatives – This is when you have reached concentric muscle failure and a spotter helps you to complete the positive portion of the next rep, or reps, so that you can lower the bar as slowly and with as much control as possible. After positive (concentric) failure is achieved, the muscle will not have yet reached negative (eccentric) failure and thus the set can be continued (extended) – focusing on the lowering phase of the rep.

Rest/Pause – This is when you utilize a weight for a specific movement that will allow you to perform approximately 4-8 perfect repetitions on your own. Once you reach exhaustion, set the weight down for a period of about 15 seconds before beginning the exercise again. When failure is reached it is time to rest again, but now for a period of 30 seconds before repeating the process a second time. Very advanced athletes can take a 60-second rest and finish with one final rest-pause to failure.

Partials – This is when you perform half reps and quarter reps after reaching the point of “full-range” failure. This produces a very painful lactic acid burn in the muscle especially when the short-range reps are performed rapidly and with continuous tension (not stopping at any point until the set is completed). This intensity technique is best used on exercises like curls, laterals, leg extensions, leg curls, and similar movements, but is not as conducive to bench presses, squats, deadlifts, etc. where a spotter is needed and the danger level is high.

Coach’s Note: Going beyond failure and into the extreme “pain zone” is not for beginners since most at this level of experience will build lean tissue quite efficiently by simply training near, or right to, basic muscular failure.

The Pain Zone Sample Workouts

Below you'll find three sample workouts designed to maximize your muscle gains. Each exercise focuses on a different muscle growth technique. The first exercise utilizes negatives, the second exercise uses rest/pause sets, and the third exercise incorporates partials.

Delt Training Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Smith Machine Seated Military Press 3 6-8*
Seated Rear Delt Fly Machine 3 6-8**
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8-10***

Biceps Training Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Preacher Curl 3 6-8*
Low Cable Curl 3 6-8**
Seated Concentration Curl 3 8-10***

Chest Training Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 6-8*
Bench Press 3 6-8**
Pec Deck 3 8-10***

* Perform 2-3 negative reps after each set
** After all 3 sets, rest 15 seconds & perform max reps, rest 30 seconds & perform max reps
*** Conclude each set w/ max partial reps

How to Incorporate Max Muscle Growth Techniques into Your Current Routine

This method of PAIN ZONE training should only be used 1-2 times per month for each muscle group. Use your standard training routine on days you are not doing PAIN ZONE workouts. On weekes that you utilize PAIN ZONE training, I suggest only hitting that body part once per week.

Related: 10 Week Mass Building Program

What About Overtraining?

Overtraining is real, and when incorporating these techniques into your routine, overtraining can happen if not implemented correctly. A few common symptoms of overtraining are general lack of energy throughout the day, finding it hard to get to sleep and get a good night's rest, and target muscles are still sore from the previous workout when you work them again.

To avoid overtraining with these techniques, make sure you're getting enough rest in between PAIN ZONE sessions and recovering properly. Stay hydrated, eat properly, and take rest days. Remember, recovery is just as important as the workouts.