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Monster Moves for Massive Pecs
A well-developed chest is the most universally admired body part that we, as a species, possess. In our unbridled desire to develop our chest, however, it’s easy to over-train to the extent that growth proceeds at a snail’s pace. Frustration ensues, with many giving up in despair. It doesn’t have to be like that. By choosing the correct exercises and training smarter, anyone can slap enough meat on either side of his sternum to impressively fill out a t-shirt.
The following 6 rules for developing your chest to it’s fullest potential will allow you to overcome any limiting factors that have been holding you back.
Rule 1: Ditch the Mega Heavy Weights
It’s time to wise up. Nobody cares how much you can bench press. You’re not a competitive weight lifter. You are using weight as a tool to work your muscle, not the other way around. While it is a good idea to do sets in the outer strength range of one to five reps occasionally, you should perform most of your work with a weight that limits you to six to twelve reps. That means reps that you can do on your own. If your so-called spotter is getting a wicked lat pump by doing bent over rows to help you get the weight up while you are benching, you’re fooling yourself into thinking that you’re actually bench pressing. It’s a sign that you need to use less resistance.
Bench pressing 225 pounds in good form, where your chest is doing all the work, is far more productive than cheating your ass off and relying on spotters to get a few pathetic reps with 315 or more. Antics like that will ensure that your chest will always suck.
Rule 2: Make Your Chest Do the Work
To build your chest you simply have to do a lot of pressing work. Unless you know how to make the chest do the work while pressing, however, your front delts and triceps will, inevitably, do all the work. As a result you will end up with enormous, round shoulders and arms, but very little thickness in your chest.
What separates genuine bodybuilders from run-of-the-mill weightlifters is their ability to feel the target muscle working during a set, that mind/muscle connection that eludes so many.
To get it right you need to set up the torso and arms correctly when pressing. Here’s how:
- Pinch the shoulder blades together; rotate your shoulders back and downward.
- Arch your back slightly.
- Do your reps slowly at a cadence of two seconds up and four seconds down.
- Stretch and contract as you go up and down
To retrain your body, drop your weights right back and only build the weight back up when you have perfected your form.
Rule 3: Press With Dumbbells
The bench press is a great pec builder. The barbell version, however, is limited in its ability to maximally stimulate the muscles of your chest. That’s because you can only bring the bar down to the point where it touches your t-shirt. That means that you’re missing out on a vital few inches of movement. By using dumbbells, however, you are able to stretch your chest way down to the bottom of their range of motion.
When you use dumbbells you are also able to work each side of the chest individually. This ensures even development. In addition, you will be working the small stabilizer muscles in your deltoids and arms that are required to stabilize the working muscle.
Rule 4: Always Include ‘Flyes’ in your workout
Presses are certainly the most important exercises for building chest size, and the majority of your effort on chest day should be devoted to them. But you also need to include a flye movement. If you don’t, you’ll neglect another function of the pectoralis major muscle, which is horizontal adduction of the arms, as in performing a hugging motion.
Do your flyes heavy, with weights that limit you to eight to twelve reps. You can wait until your presses are done, or sandwich them between pressing exercises to give your triceps and front delts a few more minutes to recover. This way, your weak links won’t fail on you before your chest is thoroughly thrashed.
Pro Tip: Another way to smash your chest are ‘CABLE FLYES’ – they’re great for doing fast drop sets and pushing yourself to failure.
Rule 5: Mix Up The Reps
The longer you have been training, the more difficult it is to coax any further growth out of your muscles, the chest included. You can mix up the exercises you do and the order in which you do them, but you should also vary the reps. Don’t get caught in the rut of always doing eight to twelve reps for chest. Try other ranges; three to five, four to six or even go on the high side to 20 once in a while.
You can do different rep schemes within the same workout or plan cycles, where you use certain ranges for given lengths of time (but be sure to pay extra attention to warming when using very low weights).
Rule 6: Limit Overall Volume
Overtraining is a very real phenomenon, despite what you often hear about it being a myth. Maybe if you’re a steroid user, you can train for hours on end, every day. Generally, there is no reason a drug free lifter should do no more than 12 working sets for chest in any given workout. And that’s assuming that you work your chest once every seven days.
Three or four exercises for three or four work sets are more than sufficient to stimulate growth if you apply the proper intensity to all sets. Anything beyond that won’t stimulate further growth, but it will start eating into your chest’s ability to recover and grow.
Sample Chest Workout
Dumbbell Bench Press
You'll need: Dumbbell
How to ▶
Incline Flyes (30 degree angle)
You'll need: Dumbbell
How to ▶
Incline Smith Machine Press
You'll need: Smith Machine
How to ▶
Superset Dips with Push Ups
You'll need: Machine
How to ▶
2 to failure
Working the chest is about far more than working hard. It is about slowing down, isolating the pecs, feeling the working muscle, choosing the right tools and exercises and knowing when to stop. Do these things consistently and you’ll be able to pulverize your pecs into ultimate growth.
Author: Steve Theunissen
Author Bio: Steve Theunissen is the Nutrition Souq Bodybuilding and Workouts Editor. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer. Steve is the author of 5 hard copy books and dozens of e-books on the subject of fitness, bodybuilding and weight loss.