Is Your Chest Training Lagging?
Chest day probably ranks as the most popular training day on the planet. Most bodybuilders want a thick, strong chest, because it adds a lot of size and presence to the physique. And let’s face it… the ladies seem to love it.
But is your chest lagging behind the rest of your physique?
Have you tried everything and still can’t get the gains you’re after?
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You’ve tried doing 40 sets of bench press and it still won’t grow, huh?
How about sets of one and two? Still no results?
You even tried blasting your pecs for two hours solid and experienced nothing but five days of pain?
Well, hopefully none of you made those mistakes, but people do tend to get a little carried away with chest day.
A strong chest remains the number one body part for fad training regimes; thrown out there by wannabe training gurus.
These so-called-experts do nothing but waste your time and make your mates scratch their heads.
The pecs are the trendiest muscles in the body, and as such they attract the weird and wonderful who just want to make a quick buck at your expense, with their latest, ‘scientifically proven’ training routines.
So, before we give you the fix, let’s have a look at where you might be going wrong.
Do you train your chest with enough intensity?
Too many people get on the bench, push a heavy set, then sit there for 5 or 6 minutes, playing with their phones.
We know two main reasons
- For some reason, people can’t stop playing with phones. The things should be banned in the gym. It’s chest Monday! Everyone’s waiting to get on that bench! Get off Tinder!
People like to push a big bench press. Why wait 1 to 2 minutes and only push 6 reps, when you could wait 6 minutes and get 9, eh?
You have to cut rest time between sets, up the intensity, keep the pressure on the muscles, and promote anabolic hormone release.
Aim for 90 seconds of rest between sets, and spend that 90 seconds lightly stretching. Intensity builds muscle. Big weights and long rests build strength. Which one do you want?
Sheer Strength Pre-Workout is the perfect supplement to get you charged up for a super intense session.
Packed with potent, proven ingredients that won’t leave nasty side effects, you walk into that gym ready for anything.
While the flat bench press should play a big role in your chest training, it shouldn’t take over.
The pecs are large muscles and they need stimulation from different angles to grow to their full potential. Incline bench press should be a regular inclusion, as should various types of flyes. Don’t forget exercises like pullovers and the good old push-up
either. Chest dips are also great exercises
for building mass.
Remember to never totally disregard machines.
The key is to mix it up and keep your body on its toes.
That goes for reps too. There’s no point in constantly pushing the same rep range.
Proper form is the key to all weight training.
It gains special importance when it comes to big lifts, like bench press, to prevent injuries. A proper bench press rep goes as follows:
Keeping your chest puffed out engages the chest more effectively.
- Lie down on the bench, with your feet on the ground, and your lower back slightly arched. Pack your feet up with plates if necessary.
- Pull your shoulders back, puff your chest out, and take a grip on the bar, a few inches outside your shoulder on each side. Keep your forearms vertical at the bottom of the lift.
- Unrack the weight, keeping your feet dug into the ground, with your lower back slightly arched and solid, and your chest puffed out.
- Take a deep breath and steadily lower the bar. Lower towards your mid to lower chest, but do not bounce it on your chest.
- Breath out hard as if you are blowing the bar upwards, and thrust the bar skywards.
Taking deep breaths and exhaling powerfully through the concentric phase strengthens surrounding muscles; particularly the intercostals between the ribs. Always employ the mind-muscle connection.
You aren’t just trying to lift the weight. You are trying to lift it using your chest muscles.
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The barbell bench press
is often seen as the big daddy of chest training. For powerlifters, this is certainly true, but for many people the barbell bench press just doesn’t suit their physiology. Dumbbells actually work far better for most people.
They give much more versatility, don’t force the shoulders into unnatural positions, and allow for a far greater range of motion.
In short, dumbbells build a better chest.
The same technique applies as with the barbell bench press, except that with dumbbells you can bring the hands together at the top, squeezing the inner chest.
While the pecs are large muscles, they really don’t need as much volume as many people give them. The days of twenty or thirty sets are long gone, except for one off shock sessions. Always prioritize quality over quantity.
Employ the mind-muscle connection and make every rep count.
Never ignore the negative phase of the rep.
Lower the weight slowly, feeling the muscles stretch and work. When doing exercises like cable or pec-deck flyes, squeeze at the top of the movement for a one count before lowering.
Get into the gym, fatigue the muscle as fast as possible, and get out again.
Play to Your Strengths
Many bodybuilders believe that a chest session should begin with the bench press. This is true if you’re broad, or a seasoned lifter - a big guy with a big chest. But, if you’re tall, fairly thin, have narrow shoulders, or long arms, you’re probably better off pre-exhausting.
Pre-exhausting involves fatiguing the target muscle with isolation movements
before hitting the big compound lifts. Pullovers and flyes of any description work great for this. Just do two or three sets until you can feel your pecs pumping and then move to the bench. Taking Sheer NO2 Nitric Oxide Booster
helps you feel the working muscles by creating huge pumps.
Nitric oxide causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to a big increase in blood flow to the tissues.
So, what can you do to kick start growth in your lagging chest?
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Adopting the tips mentioned above will set you in good stead for sure. But if you have a lagging bodypart, you need to proactively fix that issue.
Most people train the chest muscles once per week, but why not train it more often?
You must have noticed how your chest recovers fairly fast after a good session?
Unlike the legs, which are in constant use, the chest gets a pretty good rest. After a couple of days there is barely any noticeable soreness. The very next day you feel ready to go again.
If you’re an experienced lifter, your muscles will recover fairly quickly. You can train a bodypart like the chest twice per week, but you need to get the workouts right.
You can’t charge in there and do 20 sets, twice a week. That’s a surefire way to overtrain. The best way to do it is to have one heavy session and one higher rep workout per week. That way your pecs are kept on their toes and aren’t hit too hard.
Here’s a sample routine…
Workout 1- Heavy (5x5)
- Dumbbell bench press- 2 x warm-ups, then 5x5
- Incline dumbbell flyes- 3 sets of 8-10
Workout 2- Lighter/Isolation (Tempo- 3-0-2)
- Pec-deck flyes- 1 x warm-up, then 2 x 10-15
- Incline dumbbell bench press- 1 x warm-up, then 3 x 10-12
- Pullovers- 2 x 10-12
- Cable crossovers- 2 x 10-12
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The best way to build muscle is to train smart.
You have to listen to your body,
and train with perfect form.
Remember to use weights that allow a full range of motion, and play to your strengths.
Well executed intensity wins over poorly executed volume every time. Quality over quantity. Never forget it.
Train twice per week to concentrate on getting adequate rest and recovery. And take Sheer Strength Labs Sheer Recovery post-Workout Powder
to fuel your body with all it needs
to stimulate potent muscle growth. Jam packed with creatine, glutamine, carnitine, and the BCAA’s, you can’t go wrong.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.