Most of the guys hitting the gym today desire strong chest, chest popping out of the shirt. Chest became a symbol of male strength, and are visually the most significant body part, for the vast majority of trainees. It’s not uncommon to see young guys in the gym forcing chest with 15, 20, 25 sets of bench presses in just one workout. And they do it two times a week, some even more than that. The bad news is if you’re hitting chest that often (or any other body part for that manner), without a carefully programmed strategy, you’re either end up with an injury or with depleted chest, which will undermine your progress.
Start your workout warming up, to prepare your body for lifting weights ( as with any other training routine ). Take ten minutes before your training session to warm up your chest, to protect your muscles and tendons from injuries and to increase blood flow, the range of motion and your mental awareness. Do some push-ups with your own weight. 3 series of 10-12 reps will be enough. Stretch your shoulders, put some blood into the muscles. When ready, pick some well-known chest exercises, dumbbells, bars, benches…
Start with the dumbbells
Proper technique for the main exercise for chest building – bench press – will take some time. It’s not a complicated procedure, but it involves more brain than it seems, especially if high loads are involved. Therefore dumbbells are a better choice to start with because they ask for more mind-muscle connection while not allowing you to start too heavy. Dumbbells also allow more natural posture with free range of motion, where you can rotate palms to better use the lifts and to avoid discomfort, while bars are forcing one particular move with as little freedom in your posture, and locked joints (especially shoulders) involved in the move. Use incline and flat benches to perfect your performance with dumbbells, feel your chest under those dumbbells, keep your shoulders firmly at the bench, your feet on the ground, your abs contracted. Inhale when lowering dumbbells, exhale when pushing them up again. When you get comfortable with the dumbbells, you can go for the bench press.
Bench Press – Proper Technique Is A Must
A classic exercise for building upper body strength, not only to grow bigger chest. The most common mistake beginners do when benching is putting too much weight on the bar without a basic understanding of how to perform the exercise. Bench press impacts rotators and pectorals, putting them in weak spots, where front deltoid (shoulder) dominance is pretty common. Therefore, to minimize shoulder strain, retract and pull down your shoulder blades and open your chest, to better isolate chest and to avoid injury.
The bench press is a base for developing chest. Mainly because the bar can handle heavier weights. Too many youngsters have lost their shoulders by trying to lift too heavy in bad form. Why? Without the mind-body connection, the concentration on the technique itself, the movement will soon fall under the control of the body trying to push it from “the toes”. Elbows tend to flare out, putting your shoulders under additional stress. And, if the hands have no strength to hold the bar properly, the balance under the weight will also be affected.
Find someone to teach you correct form, do not experiment with the bench on your own, concentrate on every rep, and, if you see you’re losing control, put the bar down and rest a while. Only then you are ready to go for greater weights. Do all of the benching positions – incline, flat and recline, to properly stimulate the growth of your pectorals.
Learn to isolate chest. Feel the move, the weight of those bars and dumbbells. Notice how your muscles react, where you really feel the flex and power. Involve more thought in the move itself and you’ll soon notice how much more you’re hitting those muscles.
Another great exercise to improve your chest strength and size. Lighter weights are recommended for performing the exercise. Usually, flys are done after the power moves of chest presses, when the muscles are already well worked out. When performing flys try to avoid the back arch and keep your elbows slightly bent. Don’t overstretch in negative movement, going too far down with the dumbbells can cause shoulder strain. Perform 3 sets of fly’s for 10-12 reps with full control at the end of your chest workout.
Fly’s can also be done with cables. The main difference lies in experience. Cables are for more experienced people, who already know what they are doing and how to engage in the move itself. Cables need more thinking than dumbells, because of the specific angle of motion, where every individual can find its own position to properly impact pectorals, depending on individual goals and body composition. Not to mention that you already need to have some chest developed to work them up with cable fly’s.
One interesting exercise that can offer many benefits. Pullovers are a great way to expand the rib cage, making your chest frame visually wider. Some use dumbbell pullovers at the beginning of chest training, as a form of warm-up routine, some do it at the end to finally close the training. In either way, pullovers demand a higher rep range, 15 reps and more, and a moderate weight.
So, do not rush up with weights. Use proper technique, be patient. As your strength progresses, notice your chest getting bigger. Along with the overall look of your upper body.