Looking to destroy chest day the next time you’re at the gym?
Use these tips to breathe some new life into your stale training routine and make some killer gainz!
KILLER CHEST TRAINING TIPS
FULL RANGE OF MOTION
There’s a tendency with just about every lifter to load up the barbell as heavy as their joints can stand and perform half-rep after half-rep after half-rep, grunting all the way to inflate their ego and make everyone else at the gym think they’re a badass.
But here’s the thing, the chest is designed to be stretched under load. It receives the majority of damage (and growth stimulus) from these actions. What this means, is that in order to maximally stimulate the chest, you need to take every rep of every press through its full range of motion (i.e. bar to chest). If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out on some major growth potential.
And, you might also be surprised to know that when you don’t perform a full range of motion, you actually stress the elbow and shoulder joints more than if you had performed the exercise properly.
VARIETY IS KEY
The two main functions of the pecs are to flex the humerus and adduct it, meaning you need to include exercises that involve horizontal pushing (e.g. bench press) as well as ones that draw the arm across the body (e.g. cable crossover).
Furthermore, the pec also consists of two different regions, the clavicular head and sternal head). To adequately stimulate these, you need to perform your chest training from a variety of flat, incline, and decline angles.
Therefore, when programming chest day, make sure to include some horizontal, incline, and isolation movements, such as flat bench press, incline dumbbell press, and incline cable crossovers.
EMBRACE UNILATERAL TRAINING
We all have one side of our body that is stronger than the other. As such, training solely with barbells can further these imbalances. To make sure both sides are equally strong and developed, incorporate unilateral exercises into your chest workout, such as dumbbell or kettlebell presses.
DO MORE PULLING
Yes, this article is about improving your chest training, but to have a strong bench as well as to avoid injury, you need an even stronger upper back. Too much pressing and not enough pulling lead to muscle imbalances, shoulder problems, pain, and horrendous posture.
Avoid these problems and build a sturdier pressing “backbone” by doing more pulling exercises. A good ratio is 2 pulling exercises for every 1 pressing movement. This keeps the shoulders healthy, improves stabilization, and keeps you in fighting shape to train for years free of pain and injury.
DON’T NEGLECT BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
Many lifters quickly abandon push ups and dips once they can do multiple sets of 15-20 on the exercise, but these two bodyweight movements are some of the best chest building exercises a lifter can perform, and they also allow for natural rotation of the scapula — something you don’t get in the bench press.
If bodyweight dips and push ups are too easy, strap some chains or plates around your waist or back and perform them weighted.