Pretty much every single guy on this planet that has any passion for fitness or wanted to build a better body has searched for answers to the question “How to build a big chest”! No matter how big our chests are at the current moment, we can always get bigger!
Whether it be to build your upper body for a competition, bragging rights with your buddies or to look good on the beach, we have some great tips and techniques as well as a mini workout to get you going on building the chest that you want!
First off lets talk about form. Form is everything, I don’t care what anyone says, you can lift all the weight you want but if you don’t do so with the right form geared toward the exercise you are doing you will end up either not reaping the benefits of the workout or gaining little benefit and/or working muscles that you aren’t even trying to market (aka they guy that lifts heavy on the bench and has massive shoulders but small pecs!)
First things first, we have to get properly ready to maximize our chest lifts, which you can start here:
When doing flat bench chest exercises, a lot of guys and gals in the gym will bring down the weights with their arms perpendicular to their body or their elbows way out. But you can maximize the lift and ultimately your pec growth but setting your elbows further away from your shoulders, so your elbows are closer to your rib cage, or between your rib cage and your shoulder plane. This opens up the chest more when you bring the weight down, and targets the peck better, versus only hitting parts of the upper pec and mostly shoulders when you have your elbows pointing further out.
– When benching whether it be with free weights or on the bench press, whether it be flies or presses, make sure your bring your arms so that they are level with your body, don’t drop the weight any further or your will first off place a lot of stress on your shoulder/rotator cuff putting you at the risk of injury and not target your chest muscles.
No matter what chest exercise your are doing, make sure that you keep your arms horizontal to your body when bringing the weight down, don’t go any further down as it will take away from maximizing your lifts and put strain on your rotator cuff.
Maximizing Popular Lifts For Chest Gains & How Much Weight to Lift
Before we jump into maximizing some of the most popular chest building exercises, lets talk about how much weight you should be lifting, which the simple answer to that is the amount you can control.
There has been a saying in the fitness world that you should “control the weights, don’t let the weights control you”. Whether it is our egos of trying to lift heavy or trying to lift heavier than the guy next to you, if you leave your ego at the door and lift weight that is good for YOU, you will maximize your chest growth and all muscle growth in general.
Now when I say control the weight, I simply mean lift to where you are getting a good solid contraction in the muscle, where you can control the tempo and to put it harshly, so you are not using your whole body to lift the weight. Try dropping the weight a little more, controlling it up and down and see how you feel, it will most likely feel as if you are working the muscle better.
Without further adieu, tips for maximizing your gains with incline press and cable flies:
The incline bench is a great way of targeting all different areas of your pecks, which can be done by doing multiple sets at different angles of the bench, as it adjusts to multiple planes. Arnold himself who had one of the biggest and best chests and symmetry of all time pioneered this tip. Adjusting the notches on the bench for your incline press portion of your workout will allow you to target different parts of your pecs that you may not be hitting when you stay at the same degree of incline level.
Cable flies are another good way to target all levels of your chest as you can literally do an entire chest workout with them. You can hit decline by setting the cables low, flat bench by setting them in the middle and even hit your upper chest by setting the cables near or at the top.
A great tip for maximizing cable lifts is to cross your arms when bringing the fly in, instead of just touching your hands together. This allows you to get a better contraction and a deeper lift.
You can stand either with legs hip width apart or legs staggered, whichever gives you the best leverage.
More Tips For How To Build A Big Chest
This is a repetition tempo that is for hypertrophy (muscle enlargement). It has been shown to be the best tempo for building muscle and you can use it to build a bigger chest. Now its simple, for example if you are doing bench press you want to take 2 seconds to bring the weight down, 0 seconds at the isometric stage or where you are no longer bringing the weight down any further then 2 seconds to go up with the weight to the completion of your rep.
Doing 8-12 reps per set is a great rep range for hypertrophy, where you will want to lift at 75-85 percent of you One Rep Max. So if you can dumbbell bench press 100’s once, then stick to dumbbells that are between 70 lbs. to 90 lbs. for your sets.
More Tips To Use
At the end of the day you want to try and avoid the pec deck/pec flies machine and stick to the free weights and if you have to the smith machine, which can be great if you don’t have a spotter as they are designed to mimic proper form and you won’t have to worry about getting stuck on a bench by yourself with heavy weight.
If you are lucky enough to have a gym partner that can spot you or can buddy up with a guy in the gym who is doing chest the same day you are, you can tell them to watch and critique you and help you adjust during the set to the parameters mentioned about. This will help your muscle memory by having an outside source telling you how to do it correctly, enabling your brain to adapt to the movement and implement better and perfect form subconsciously.
An awesome way to both get chest gains as well as create a more enjoyable and challenging workout is to throw in some supersets come chest day! Here are a couple examples to incorporate into your chest building routine:
– Dumbbell Bench Press to Push Ups - Dumbbell Flies to Medicine Ball Chest Pass - Bench Press to Body Weight Dips
Dumbbells Vs. Barbell Bench Press
Dumbbells are a vital component to your chest routine. Dumbbells promote stabilization and encourage the use of your slow twitch muscle fibers. In turn, this helps you build a stronger core, and ultimately, this will get with you bigger lifts.
If you are serious about building a massive chest, do NOT skip out on the bench. At the end of the day, dumbbells are only part of the equation and you are missing out on gain heaven if you’re just utilizing the weight rack. The bench press is the tried and true method of torturing chest muscle fibers to force them into massive growth! This time tested compound lift is also considered a full body lift that forces you to engage more muscle groups then machines or dumbbells.
We love to link out to awesome articles pertaining to what we are writing here at Empowered Health and Fitness so you if dogged this article and want more on building your upper body check out this article!!
Or you can watch a video about Jay Cutler and listen to what he says about building a massive chest since he kind of knows his stuff!
Enjoy my friends!