If there is any muscle group which seriously sets apart the casual trainer from the serious lifter, it is the chest muscles, or pectorals. Centrally location in nearly every pose a bodybuilder or casual lifter would make, there is no faking a set of thick pectorals. You either have them or you don’t. And the typical start to a lifting career usually just involves plenty of sets of flat bench presses. These might be great on the ego in your early days, as the beginners’ gains have you moving, 100, 200, 250 pounds and beyond. But soon your pectorals become thick and bunched up, lacking any sorts of real quality shape, or balance. Now it’s time to train for real.
The pectorals are targeted best with a mix of upper, lower, middle and outer oriented exercises which can enable the lifter to build all areas of the chest equally and in a balanced manner. Moving past the “newbie” stage, you’ll learn to target each of these areas with specialized movements, mostly by varying the angle of the upper, flat, and decline pressing for barbells and dumbbells. Over time, however, your growth and improvements may wane. When that happens, you may need to implement a few new techniques to help push your pectorals to the next level and continue their path to new growth. Let’s check out a few ideas!
We all know that cable crossovers can offer a new avenue of stimulation for the pectorals, hitting the outer chest with a continual tension that leads to a great deal of muscle fiber stimulation. However, since most gyms have limited stations which always seem to be crowded with the cable pressdown crowd, it can be hard to find a spot to knock out your crossovers. Wait for the station, or train early/late when nobody else is around. Find a way to include this very useful movement which can build an often overlooked part of the chest (the outer pectorals) with a continuous tension which lasts the entire set!
Yes, everyone in your circle already knows your goal is to build more muscle, and you train in a sensible and safe manner to achieve this goal. However, by staying in that 8-12 repetition box for muscle accumulation, you often leave your fast-twitch muscle fibers untested during the course of a normal workout. If you’re discovering you don’t use sets of 3, 4 or 5 repetitions, then it may be time to add some weight to the bar and go heavier. Hit those fibers which have perhaps been dormant since your early harder days of lifting – which may not coincidentally be the last time you made some real gains in terms of muscle thickness. Training in this heavy style may require you to…
That’s right! If you want to train heavy, you had better train safe. Nothing slows down pectoral development more than tearing a pectoral muscle or dropping a barbell in your head. Seek out a dependable training partner who is fairly equal to you in terms of size, strength, and goals. Training with your 112-pound girlfriend may be a lot of fun, but you may not be making the same kind of gains as you’d see with a 220 pound beast yelling at you, securing the bar during spotting, and pushing you to your heavy training limits. Buddy up!
Take a look at your grip. And if you’re unhappy with it in any way, or just wish to experiment a bit, then you should go for it. Add chalk so you can enjoy a bit of a better grip on the bar. Move your pinky a fraction of an inch in either direction to see if your pectoral contraction improves.Try squeezing the bar harder than you normally would. Maybe even get brave and try a reverse grip! Keeping the body guessing at all times is how you grow, and mixing up your grip is a great way to do this!
If you are like many people in the gym, you have abs with ease, but cannot build a set of incredible pectorals to save your life. This me be due to the fact that you’re just refining your ab muscles, and displaying them a tad better with your lower body at. Your pectorals, on the other hand, are a muscle group which you seriously have to BUILD. In other words, you need to add new ingredients – rest, heavy training, food, and supplements – in order to see them grow. More calories will arrive with more food, and your clear midsection definition may suffer as a result. However, the weight you gain will be in muscle, much of which will end up on your chest!
Just as it can be a good idea to increase the weight you’re moving and knock out fewer repetitions, some gains can often be realized by doing the opposite. Cut the weight by 20% and go for 18 or 20 repetitions per set. You’ll quickly learn a new definition of the word ‘pain’, but you will also stimulate the firing of some slow-twitch muscle fibers which have perhaps remained dormant for much of your training career. Aim high – with higher repetitions – and you may bust out some explosive new pectoral growth!