Many people will crave the development of pic pecs which sit like two slabs of stone under the breast of their shirt – the problem is they tend to go about it the wrong way. Rather than focussing on pec stimulating they focus on ego stimulation by caring too much about how much they can bench!! If you want to build a set of pecs fit for a Spartan warrior then read on!
I always side with dumbbells over the barbell for growth and here is why.
When you bench press with a barbell there is less scope to stretch the pecs as far back at the bottom of the press (isometric contraction). At the top, you are inclined to pull your hands outwards (whilst they stay still, but the force through the muscle will change). As a result there is more stress on the triceps. This is why I often say bench pressing with a barbell is great for big triceps. This is why we see many guys benching impressive weight with diamond shaped triceps, bulging anterior deltoids and lagging pec growth. Coincidence? Probably not!
In contrast dumbbells allow you to stretch the pecs further at the bottom of the rep and at the top of the rep you can squeeze your pecs with much more emphasis. Bringing your hands closer together does this spectacularly well!
Now here’s the secret, this is where the magic really happens so pay attention! From the bottom start with your hands slightly outside of your biceps (not over or inside). In other words, the dumbbells won’t be directly above your shoulder but an inch or two outside! As you come up to the top extend your arms and contract. This means straighten your arms as you bring your hands closer together. You will instantly notice the difference in the quality of contraction within your pecs. It will burn as if there’s a blow torch being held anywhere between 2-3 inches away from your chest!!! This is a good sign - you are now recruiting more muscle fibres within the area you intend on growing.
Repeat this within an 8-12 rep range and gradually increase the weight you can use. This will pay dividends! Just remember, this form is key so never compromise that for weight lifted.
This is something I am using more now as I study the movement patterns of muscles, what's actually happening and what I think will work best. For hypertrophy it isn't about moving a weight from 'A to B' - only the genetically gifted could use such a philosophy to great effect. For the rest of us who don’t get a pump washing up the dishes this is an area I strongly recommend you focus on!