The pectorals are the mighty anchor that symbolize your physique, the muscles that single-handedly can make or break your look. Often times, however, they are also the most stubborn muscle group to bring out and develop. In one of our other articles, Increasing Chest Size, we focused on some minute changes you can make in your training to help a lagging chest. In this article, however, we’re going to cover a completely different mind-set and training setup for finally breaking through and achieving a bigger chest.
Let’s first understand that everybody has different muscle groups that are able to grow “easier” on their bodies than others. For some, they can do minimal direct arm work and have arms that overpower the rest of their physique. For others, the same can be said for chest. Keeping that in mind, always focusing on another individual’s routine to understand how they achieve the size of a particular body part is not the end all, be all solution. You have to always make sure you tailor your workouts to what your body best needs based on how it responds to the training you’ve put it through so far. After some time in the gym, you should be able to figure out what body parts require more a of a beating than others to grow, and make sure you give them that extra work that’s required. For more on this, check out our how to gain muscle article.
Keeping that in mind, there are going to be people that can bench press and do your standard chest routine, and grow great-sized pecs. They won’t even necessarily have to bench press 3 plates to achieve this, because their chest is an easy-responder. They can do push-ups and have their chest grow, really. Since you are presumably not one of these people, focusing on the standard chest routines is not what’s going to bring you the results you are looking for. After all, if it did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.
Going into the gym and doing some bench pressing, dumbbell pressing, and finishing off with chest flyes is not the answer most chest-laggers require. You have to learn to punish the chest, and make sure you do it by isolating it to the best of your ability on every exercise you do by using the Mind Muscle Connection. The bench press involves way too much shoulders and triceps for you to effectively isolate the pecs and get the most bang for your buck. I am not recommending to completely remove it from your training, but certainly do not rely on it as your #1 exercise on chest day, as most people do. Getting a bigger chest requires absolute chest obliteration, with exercises that help make sure your chest is the most dominant and least inhibited muscle group during the movement. It requires a mix of some heavy lifting, and light superset work. Let’s take a look:
Exercise #1: Chest Dips – if you haven’t been doing them, start immediately. Here’s the difference, however. Instead of facing the machine when doing dips, do them with your back turned towards it. This means that you can’t bend at the knees because the machine will obstruct you, so instead you keep your legs straight and go all the way down until you’re an inch or so off of actually standing on the ground. Then go back up, completing a rep. On regular chest dips, it is recommended that you lean forward to make sure your triceps aren’t doing a majority of the work, however, when doing this variation leaning slightly forward helps but is not necessary. That little detail is entirely up to what you wind up feeling more in your chest, remember it is all about the mind-muscle connection at work. Some will feel the chest more with a slight lean, others can be rather straight on this variation and feel the chest perfectly isolated.
The reason this variation is a better alternative is because it takes more of the shoulders out of the movement, placing more emphasis between the chest and the triceps. With focus on the chest, you can make sure the triceps have minimal involvement as well. As always when performing dips, make sure the handle bars are on the outside as opposed to the inside. Wider grip focuses more on chest. As a final note, your elbows do not have to be in when performing this exercise. They can, and probably will, be flaring due to the circumstances you are working with doing the movement in this manner.
Shoot for a 5×5 opening act on chest day (with weights, if necessary). If you are not proficient at these yet, warm up by doing the regular chest dips facing the machine and using the pad before turning around and moving on to your heavy sets. For those who are proficient, do a bodyweight set or 2 to warm up (up to 20 reps).
Exercise #2: Incline DB Press – Nothing stands out more on the pecs as does a dominating upper chest. Make sure to do this movement on a slight incline, no more than a 2 or 3 on an adjustable bench. We don’t want shoulders to come too much into the mix. Go all the way down till your dumbbells are at the side of your chest, and for extra intensity, don’t lockout at the top of the rep (don’t make your arms go straight, stop short of that and automatically began going back down for your next rep). This will keep the chest under tension the entire time, not allowing it to rest with each rep. Leave your ego at the door, don’t perform half-reps like most people in the gym when they are chest-pressing dumbbells. They go half-way down and then back up, trying to be heroes. If you’re trying to work your triceps, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, it is the bottom half of the movement that is the most important for a chest workout.
Shoot for a 3×8 (3 sets, 8 reps), followed by a finishing set of 21s (grab a lower weight, and do: 7 reps half way down, 7 reps half way up, 7 full reps – all without stopping). You’re going to be screaming at the end of this. But we’re not done.
Exercise #3/4: Chest Flyes + Push Ups – We’re going to do this in a superset manner, and there are two ways you can do this.
1) You can use the pec-dec machine for doing chest flyes, and immediately after finishing your set, drop down and do push ups till failure.
2) You can use cables to do cross-over chest flyes, and immediately after finishing your set, drop down and do push ups till failure.
For added variety, do decline or incline push ups by using a bench to either place your feet on it and do push ups on the ground (decline) or placing your feet on the ground and your hands on the bench (incline). Shoot for 3×12 on the flyes, and 3xfailure on the push ups.
Remember, at all times you need to make sure that you are eating above maintenance in order to feed your body what it needs to grow from your training, and push yourself to the limits. With each subsequent chest workout, you should be moving up at least a little on at least 1 exercise (shoot for progress on every exercise, if possible). This is called Progressive Overload and is vital to growth. Try to isolate your chest during each exercise, using as little tricep and shoulder help as possible. Do not just do the movement, feel your chest working through the entire rep. Also, focus on the negative portion of the rep as much as the positive, don’t just drop the weights down to your chest on Incline DB Press (for example). Instead, lower them slowly with your chest constantly under tension, controlling them as opposed to your arms. You will get a bigger a chest. Good luck!
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