This is probably one of the most frequent questions I receive through emails and at the gym: “how do I get my chest to grow?”
There could be a multitude of reasons contributing to that dilemma which also makes a strong case for real deal 1 on 1 coaching and a full physique assessment but that’s not the point or in the scope of this article. However, I will give you the 3 biggest mistakes I see day in and day out with the majority of trainees on their chest days.
Full “dictionary-size” pecs are what most guys are after, but part of that problem is these same people spend too much time and focus with the flat barbell benchpress as the be all end all and king kong of chest development exercises, which for some trainees including myself with long limbs and torso isn’t even that great of a choice as a regular selection in my routines. Bottom line it has become more of an ego exercise and really just an answer to the common question everybody that works out gets: “how much do you bench?” my answer; I don’t!
So let’s dive into the big 3 mistakes that anyone interested in enhanced development and aesthetics (who isn’t) can pay more attention to in their own workouts.
1. “Presses and flyes above the eyes.”
Yes, that’s right, when performing any incline or flat pressing movements with DB’s or a barbell or any DB flyes the weight should not be traveling straight out but rather in an arc like motion so that at the top of the movement the bar or DB’s are straight above your eyes.
So if you were doing a flat DB press you wouldn’t just press the DB’s straight out from your chest but press them from the sides of your chest up and back bringing them as close together as possible without them actually touching right above your eyes in one smooth motion. This is actually the correct plane of motion your chest works in and will result in more muscle fiber recruitment.
2. Get your feet up!
To really engage and put the maximum amount of stress exactly where you want it; on your pecs, you really should be putting your feet up on the end of the bench on all flat movements.
If you’re too tall (like me) to fit on some benches, then just bring another bench or something supportive of equal height to the foot of the bench so you can slide down further and put your feet on it.
This will also prevent you from arching your back during the movement, we’ve all seen the guy with way too much weight on the bar with his back arched and butt not even touching the bench anymore and moving the bar in a very short range of motion, all of which are completely useless if you actually want your chest to grow.
3. Nothing above 45 or below 0 degree angles.
Your chest is only the primary mover between 0 and 45 degree angles, which makes incline work above this more of a shoulder movement.
Most people get this. But it also means that any decline work is a poor choice for development purposes.
I know a lot of people like decline bench press because they can generally lift more weight but it targets less than 5% of the pectorals and puts a lot of stress on the shoulder joints, making the risk to reward ratio unsuitable and unnecessary for building a good set of pecs. So skip the decline work and make sure when you do incline movements that you adjust the bench so that the back rest is roughly no greater than 45 degrees.
* * *
There you have it, 3 big but very common mistakes that you are now aware of and can fix and apply immediately in your chest workouts to start seeing better development and progress. Remember when you’re training for enhanced development you never just want to “lift weights” but rather you want to focus on “training muscles” and these 3 solutions to 3 common gaffs are important factors that can go a long way in helping you to do just that.
Yours in Fitness,