Often times, I see people in the gym slugging it out with the bar on bench press as soon as they enter on chest day. I can’t blame them, that’s what the standard belief is to increase your chest size, lift heavy weight by bench pressing. However, that’s not always the best way to go. First and foremost, make sure that you are using the Mind Muscle Connection to enhance training, regardless of the exercise you do. The reason I mention this for this article is because people most often crack on form when it comes to benching. They try to lift as much weight as possible, but they wind up using their shoulders and triceps just as much as their chests (if not more). How can you build a big chest in that circumstance? Here’s two quick tips I want to give those who are looking to slap on some meat on their chest and overall increase chest size.
1) Start your chest day doing incline work – doesn’t always have to be the case, but I can almost guarantee that most people always stick to the same thing, bench or flat DB press first. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’ll actually benefit you more if you hit up the incline first. Bodybuilding deals with creating an illusion, and if your upper chest is big, your whole chest will (even if it’s really not big overall) seem big. Plus, it’s the meatiest part of the chest, so more often than not if your upper chest is big, your chest as a whole should be at least pretty darn decent.
On a very related note, I see many people doing incline work with too high of an incline. We’re not working out shoulders here, and they take away much of the chest’s work if your incline is set too high. Although not absolute (you can do higher inclines if you feel it better), a good incline is around 30 degrees up from flat, no more. You’re just trying to get the chest in a slightly elevated position, but not overly so. If you’re on an adjustable bench, setting 2 or 3 should be more than enough. Again, from the article linked above, feel your chest working, try to not involve the other muscles. If you’re just doing the movement, your shoulders and triceps will come into play more than they have to.
2) Make the priority in the rep the bottom portion of the movement – this is the number 1 reason people fail to grow their chest. 9/10 times I see people going half way down, and then back up. Sure, maybe the gravity of the weights you’re using (which are probably too heavy for you, hence the half way down part) is pressing against your chest, causing it to strain and feel like it’s really pushing the weight, but it’s not. Check your ego at the door, lower the weight, and do the movement correctly. Drop the weight all the way down to your chest, feel the stretch, and come back up half way (if you want to exhaust your chest before your triceps get exhausted). Do this repeatedly so your chest is under constant tension for the whole set. The top half of the movement involves the tricep, why people go down to parallel (at best) and back up is beyond me (short of actual physical limitations, which are fine of course).
Your chest needs to be hit maximally, and it won’t be without it being used to push up the weight from the very bottom (unless you absolutely can’t limit your shoulder involvement that low, then go a bit higher till you can, and set that as your bottom). By the way, I’m not saying that going to parallel means you’re doing it wrong, it may be enough for some. For the majority, however, you have to follow physics and the natural way the muscle moves in order to get the best results, and that means using a full range of motion, or focusing on where the chest does the most work (bottom half).
The whole point of lifting weights is to get your muscles to reach fatigue, so they can repair and grow stronger for the next time. Doing weights you can’t handle, and thus going down half way, is not going to give you the optimal workout, even if you think it does. It’s basic physics, and you can’t argue with that. Next time you’re hitting up chest day, try these out and you’ll feel the difference. With time, you’ll see it too, as you increase chest size. To get an expansive look into overall chest development, also visit our Eliminating The Bird Chest article. Good Luck!
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