Guide to Chest Training
In this article I will strive to answer one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to strength training and bodybuilding: How to get that massive chest? The first step is to recognize what exercises to do and also in by the same token, what exercises not to waste energy on, the ones I do are Benchpress, Overhead Press and Incline Dumbbell Press. First and foremost is the Benchpress. This is a whole body movement but the primary muscles that are targeted are the pectorals, the deltoids and the triceps. The pectorals are most active in the bottom, or the start of the movement, and the triceps and deltoids are activated higher up in the movement (the lockout). To put maximal stress on the chest it is therefore recommended that you pause when benching. To perform a Pause Benchpress you simply let the bar sink in the chest for a second of two, creating a new movement and taking away the momentum of the previous repetition. This will be demonstrated by yours truly at the end of this article. Not pausing when performing the Benchpress may result in a larger stress on the deltoids and the triceps, leaving your pectorals bereft of the heavy work. This was a problem I struggled with a long time, resulting in suboptimal chest growth. Another mistake I did early on when benching was that the barbell path was to high with the elbow position also too high. Make sure the barbell hits the lower chest and put your elbows closer to the body, as opposed to a straight line. If you do not do this it will also result in a larger stress on your deltoids and work taken away from the chest. When it comes to the positioning of your body when benching, make sure to have your feet firmly on the ground and your glutes on the bench at all times and finally also the trapezius squeezed together and pushed firmly down the bench. This will results in three areas of contact, do not break this contact during the movement. Also make sure that the entire body is tensed when performing the lift, the whole body must work in unison to gather enough strength to get the barbell up. To acquire a massive chest the Benchpress is a must. Although you certainly can build an impressive chest only doing the Benchpress, adding some sort of Overhead Press to your routine is a good choice, especially for the upper chest. There are a few different ways to perform an OHP, I am currently doing the Push Press (also demonstrated in the end of the article) as my heavy OHP movement followed by some sets of Strict Press. The Strict Press should be performed with a pause in the beginning of the movement, and will thus, just as the Pause Bench add additional stress to your chest (again since the chest is most active in the beginning of the movement). Most OHP movements primarily target your deltoids but will still add size to your triceps and pectorals as well. The third exercise that should have a place both in your heart and your training routine is the Incline Dumbbell Press, which can be utilized to put further stress on your upper chest. Interestingly enough the incline itself does not need to be very steep, on a regular bench (that you can regulate) one or two notches up is enough of an incline. What you should think about when performing the Incline Dumbbell Press is to take full advantage of the dumbbells themselves as they allow a much longer range of motion than the regular barbell, meaning that your can get a deeper stretch in the bottom of the movement, be honest with yourself and check the ego at the door. Begin with a weight you can perform the full movement with. Using a too heavy weight doing a quarter of a repetition is neither impressive nor beneficial. Furthermore, since you get that deep stretch and long range of motion you can utilize that to spring the weight up again without pausing. Thus I do not pause at the bottom of the movement but rather get the deep stretch and then explode upwards (due to the deep movement the chest will get plenty of activation). What about other exercises? I am a minimalist, I prefer a few good choices over a multitude of lesser ones. The ones stated above are the ones I have built my own chest with. That is not to say that I never do other work. I occasionally do chest flies in the cable cross to get a good pump going, that however, is not where the real mass comes from, and is indeed not something I waste energy on, I can do them at the end of a session if I feel like it. However, when speaking of other exercises, do not forget to train your back as well. First of all you want to pull roughly as much as you push to keep a good balance and avoid injuries. Back training is for another article but Weighted Chins, Dead Lifts and Rows will put mass on your back, which in turn will help you perform optimally during the chest training. A well balanced physique will not only look better but will also make for a better performing one! We have now covered what exercises to do and will thus need to briefly overlook some basic principles. First and foremost is the principle of progression, strive to continuously get stronger, week for week, month for month, year for year. If you do not follow this principle you will not grow, easy as that. This is also another article in itself which is why I will not elaborate on the topic here. What about sets and repetitions? To make this answer and easy one I will simply suggest 5×5, which means 5 sets of 5 repetitions. What about frequency? Strive to hit the chest at least two times a week. I recommend that you have a push session where you hit the chest, the deltoids and the triceps during the same session. A good order of business can be -> Benchpress -> OHP -> Incline Dumbbell Press -> Lighter isolation work for the triceps.