The more and more clients I train, the more and more I realise that the chest is one of the hardest areas to develop for most. There are several reasons for this which I will touch on shortly, however before that I wanted to share with you a tip.
The pectorals respond well to lots of angles, different times under tension and all of this requires complete mental focus.
So why is it that chest is such a tough muscle group to improve?
Personally I believe the 3 following reasons summarise for the majority of us why chest remains a weak looking muscle group.
1 – Conventional chest workouts are based around barbell pressing which makes it very hard to isolate the pecs
This means that whilst you are not isolating the pecs or at least to a full extent supporting muscle groups including the anterior deltoids, triceps and even traps also come into play. Due to this fact you are unlikely to take your pectoralis minor or major to failure because the secondary muscle groups will often fatigue first, as well as take a great deal of the tension.
2 – Extreme lack in variation is common with chest workouts
Let’s be honest, most chest workouts begin with the regular bench press then will expand into maybe some flies and then the pec-dec for example. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these exercises, as we know the body adapts very quickly which means that following the same OR similar sequence week after week will in all likelihood lead to a poor rate of progression.
3 – How much do you bench press? This question is the ruination of most people’s chest development!!
As IFBB Pro Bob Chicherello once said, ‘’it doesn’t matter how much you lift – what matters is how much you LOOK like you can lift.’’ Don’t get me wrong I am all for functional and progressive strength gains but let’s cut the BS – doing a 1,2 or even 3 max rep every single week isn’t the best way for MOST of us to build a jaw dropping chest! Contractions with plenty of emphasis on every portion of the repetition is the way forward. Often the people who do not practise this know well of their wrong doings, but due to the peer pressure of other gym enthusiasts the outlined question above equates to them chasing an ego boost on the bench.
These three points combine to explain, in my opinion why a lot of people fail to see a return on their investment in the gym – specifically in relation to chest training.
To kick-start your chest development and get the ball rolling may I strongly urge you to apply the 3 following protocols.
1 – Eccentric muscle contractions (aka negatives) are fantastic especially within a chest workout. Increase the negative portion of your repetition to 4 seconds every rep! Doing this will increase your ‘’time under tension’’ which will equate to maximised high threshold motor unit recruitment, thus leading to enhanced muscle fibre stimulation.
2 – Isometric muscle contractions are the most under used muscle building tool, fact! Well I might struggle to ‘’prove’’ that but I will let the results you are about to experience do the talking. As you reach the ‘’pushing’’ phase of any repetition with your chest workouts pause for 2 seconds. During these 2 seconds flex your pecs as you would whilst you pose. This will further accentuate overall muscle fibre stimulation.
3 - Variation is key; yes this is true with every workout but especially with chest! Most people will fail to use any form of ‘’twist’’ whilst using dumbbell l pressing. When you look at the function of the pectorals it makes sense to utilise this sort of variation.
Next time you do dumbbell pressing on chest day as you ‘’press’’ rotate your arms so that by the top of the repetition your ‘’little’’ fingers are touching. This is a very effective way of delving into new depths where chest development is concerned.
What are you waiting for? Give it a go!