Chest training is a complex matter, there are several factors which need to be addressed as they often end up compromising your pectoral stimulating session. These include mechanical point of attack, shoulder joint fatigue/injuries, ability to achieve tension on the pecs and variation in training style. For all the love chest training receives from avid gym goers who want to look ‘’hench’’ this is one of the body parts which throws up the most training mistakes in our experience.
Learn to grow your chest rather than complete endless chest workouts, there’s a definitive difference.
Working through different mechanical angles from incline, mild-incline, flat and decline is key to increasing overall stimulation in the pecs. Rather than worry about how much you can ‘’bench’’ focus on getting strong with a full range of motion (ROM) in each plane of movement.
As a more advanced training method starting your set in a mechanical disadvantage (using a plane of motion you are weaker on) and then moving towards the mechanical advantage point as your pecs fatigue. Simply put, do 8-10 reps at incline, 8-10 reps at a mild incline and then a further 8-10 reps on a flat bench. Simple yet effective.
Anterior deltoid involvement is a very common issue with chest training. Whilst there will be an inevitable cross-over between muscle groups many people complain a fatigue setting in within the front of their shoulders before their pecs give out. Unfortunate or avoidable? We will go with the latter. Firstly, get flexible. Your shoulder joints will almost certainly have the mobility of a legless tortoise at present if you have lifted for any length of time without due care and attention on mobility work. Secondly, learn to press through your chest rather than your shoulder. This often boils down to focussing on that ‘’mind to muscle’’ connection and moving the weight with your mind first. Sounds wacky yet it will certainly help you keep the pecs under tension rather than the deltoids.
Speaking of tension, use more of it. Pressing a dumbbell up and down with little feel for the tickle in the muscle belly isn’t optimal, far from it in fact. The pecs need to be pruned and nurtured with tension at certain points within each rep. The ‘’stretch’’ at the bottom is a good place to start as is the ‘’squeeze’’ at the other end. During the journey between those two points flex the muscle. Make the muscle fibres within that area DANCE!!!
To conclude, we will finish with training volume and rep ranges. The pectorals are usually a concoction of fast and slow twitch muscle fibres which means they like to lift in low rep ranges as well as high.
Building a fuller set of pecs should be easier now.