The Core Exercises To Building A Bigger Chest
Start with the bench press, this should be the form the core of your chest building exercises as this is a multi-joint exercise and a compound exercise.
You can either do the classic barbell bench press or a dumbbell press instead if it feels more comfortable. You may find that the barbell bench press will place a lot of stress on your wrist, so you can either strap them up or use the dumbbell bench press, as this will allow for a more natural position when performing the movement.
There are multiple bench presses available, each aimed at stimulating a different part of the pectoral muscle group. Through performing the exercise at different angles we can target the most amount of muscle fibres – especially if a region of the chest is under-developed i.e. the upper or lower chest.
- Flat bench
- Incline bench (can be targeted at each angle available on the bench)
- Decline bench press
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes:
Focus on getting the weights as close to the ground as possible but without overstretching to much where injury could occur. Don’t come up all the way so that each dumbbell touch – make sure that you retain tension on the muscle throughout the exercise at all times.
Bend at your waist and cross the cables over each other to concentrate on the squeeze, hold the squeeze for 2 seconds. Position the cable at a high position so that you pull them at a downward angle. This will focus on developing your lower/inner chest.
Incline cable raises:
Set the cable to the lowest position, walk a few paces out to apply tension, and then lean forward slightly. Pull the cable upwards in a controlled movement with a slight bend in your elbows to prevent strain on them and for greater tension on the chest. This will work your upper pecs and will also develop your shoulders to some degree too.
Secondary Exercises To Building A Bigger Chest
Great exercise for opening up and expanding the chest. Get a full stretch on the chest and make sure you don’t come up all the way, you want to keep the tension on the chest at all times.
Machine Bench Press:
This is a great exercise to finish off with. This exercise is good at isolation just the pectorals due to its fixed position, you also have the ability to lift heavy and not worry about injury as the weight can’t fall. Start with the heaviest weight you can lift on the machines and go to failure. You should be completely focusing on fully squeezing the pectorals through the movement, and as it’s fixed, it will allow you to focus the attention onto this area without feeling the tension so much on the stabilizing muscles. After a few heavy sets, try a few drop sets to maximise the pump, going past failure each time. The last 3 or 4 reps will count.
Weighted dips will help build mass in the lower chest.
Focus on the pectoral throughout this exercise as this can also be used as a triceps exercise. Make sure you lean forward to do the exercise to place tension on the chest. Also, keep the tension throughout the exercise – this means controlled movements without locking out on the extension part of the exercise.
Think About Stability Exercises To Aid In Chest Development
For better control over your chest workout routines think about developing the stabilising muscles that support the chest exercise movement. Specifically, the main stabilising muscles are the triceps and shoulders, although the overall chest workout routines will help develop these muscle, it would help to isolate these muscles to further improve strength to these regions and aid in the overall development in the chest building process.
Stability muscle exercises could be deployed in your chest workout if you wish. It also makes sense to include triceps exercises into your chest workout days, as they are major muscles used during a lot of chest exercises.
Some Extra Workout Tips To Focus On For Chest Development:
- Time under tension: Think about TUT, this means slowing down your rep tempo, you will feel much more of a burn, this will increase the control of the weight. The tempo for a rep could be [up 3 seconds down 2 seconds with a slight pause at the concentric (the point you are extended). Try not to lockout at the top of the movement as you will take the tension away from your muscles.
- Reps: 8-12 is a hypertrophy range, however, you also want to induce the pump on occasion, so this may mean adding extra reps until you feel a burn. Remember the reps are a guide, you will need to experiment will the rep range that aids for maximum results.
- Sets: 3-4 set per exercise routine should be adequate, however, you may want to focus more sets on a part of the muscle that is underdeveloped; such as the lower chest.
- Mind muscle connectivity: this is key to having full control over the weight and more importantly to maximise the stimulation to the muscle that you intend to target. So sit back first and workout how to properly execute the chest exercise to stimulate the exact part of the muscle you intend to. Try flexing in the mirror or using a very light weight to go through the action first to get a sense of how the angle and motion should best be executed.
- Don’t stop at failure: As Arnold Schwarzenegger said “the last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.”
- Focus on stimulating the muscle at different angles: This is especially crucially if you are lacking chest development in a particular area, so find the angles that best stimulate each region. Flat bench is a good starting point, but just a starting point. For example: use an adjustable bench at the different angles to stimulate the upper chest at different points.
- Leave enough time to allow for rest & repair: get your sleep as this is where the muscle actually grows, the gym is where you tear the muscle fibres. Make sure that your chest workouts are not too close together, you need to make sure they have fully repaired, if not you could face burnout and actually cause damage to your chest muscles.
- Super set: a great way to increase intensity, which is key, and also to make your workouts shorter.
- Reverse pyramid set: start with a heavy-weight then pyramid down to a lower weight. Once you have completed a set immediately reduce the weight and do another set but with a higher number of reps. And again repeat with a lower weight once complete. You will end up doing a high volume within a short space of time, with the advantage of lifting a reasonably heavy-weight at first and at the same time almost definitely guaranteeing a pump from the routine.
- Starting with a heavy set initially: your first few sets tend to be your strongest. You may want to lift heavier initially to break plateaus, as increasing the weight that you lift over time should be your overall long term-goal. Without ever increasing the weight lifted you will never grow to any great degree.
Chest Specific Exercise Tips:
- Shoulders pinned back: pinning back the should blades will help to focus the movement on the chest and away from the shoulders. Think about squeezing an apple between your shoulder blade while performing the exercise may help you to understand this.
- Focus on driving the elbows and fully stimulating the muscle: this is key and relates back to mind muscle connectivity.
- Wide grip and close grip: the grip on a barbell bench press will affect which muscles are stimulated most. A wide grip will place more emphasis on the chest and the shoulders – specifically the anterior deltoid – while the close grip will place more emphasis away from the chest and toward the arms – specifically the forearms and triceps.