For many gym-goers, although training their chest is generally considered one of their favourite training days of the week, actually being able to build muscle and add lean mass to the chest is a whole different story entirely. We all know some of the more common chest exercises, the bench press for example, and we all know that as far as compound exercises go, it’s one of the best exercises you could ever hope for. But what about when bench pressing just isn’t enough, and what about when you simply don’t feel like bench pressing at all? It can quite easily become frustrating when you work your butt off in the gym, training for hours upon hours, eating regularly, practising strict form and technique, and barely seeing any progress in the slightest, but the thing to remember is to never give up. A lagging chest can really make any otherwise impressive looking physique look average at best, whereas a huge and powerful chest will make any good looking physique look fantastic. If you struggle to add mass to your chest, by the time you’ve finished reading this article, your chest training over the coming weeks will be far more impressive. Here’s a look at 6 tips for building a huge and powerful looking chest with exercises, movements, and techniques that are not strictly related to bench pressing (though bench pressing should still be an essential part of any chest-training routine).
Train your chest once a week
If you have a certain muscle group or body part that may be lagging and may be far less impressive than other body parts and muscle groups, common sense would indicate that surely it would be more beneficial to train that same body part or muscle group as much as possible, to allow you to help bring it up to be on par with other muscles on your body. However, numerous studies and research has revealed that in actual fact, not only can this not be the most effective method of bringing up your chest, but it could actually lead to atrophy in the chest, which would make it look weaker and less impressive than ever. Studies have found that the most effective training frequency when it comes to your chest, is one chest training session per week. When we say train your chest once a week, we don’t mean simply perform one or two chest exercises per week, we mean you should set aside a training day solely for your chest, and your chest alone. The workout should be quality, you should train to failure, you should execute perfect form, and you should make sure you perform around 5 – 6 different exercises to see the real benefits.
If you’re looking to build yourself a huge set of pecs, another very important thing that you must consider is the fact that you should squeeze the muscles with each contraction of every exercise. The idea here is to activate more fast-twitch muscle fibres, and to also force more oxygen and nutrient rich blood into the muscles to help them perform more effectively and to help stimulate protein synthesis to assist with post-workout recovery. Squeezing exercises are more likely to be isolation exercises as opposed to compound exercises, in which you place an emphasis on technique as opposed to weight. Exercises such as dumbbell flyes, pec deck, or machine chest presses are all perfect examples of squeezing exercises.
Try not to train triceps and shoulders before your chest
If you train your chest on a Wednesday for example, training triceps and/or shoulders on Mon or Tues is not generally considered beneficial because it can pre-exhaust the muscles and make them less effective on chest day. Remember, all of these muscle groups require pushing exercises to work them and too much pushing can result in pre-exhaustion which basically means the muscle groups aren’t as effective the next day or two. If the muscles aren’t effective, you won’t see the benefit.
Change reps and weight on a weekly basis
While many experts recommend regularly changing your workouts, I.E every six weeks or so in order to shock the muscles into new growth, one of the most effective training techniques for when it comes to training chest is to change the amount of weight used/rep ranges on a weekly basis. Again, this is ideal because it will drastically shock the muscles as they’ll have no idea whether they’re coming or going, which in turn will result in an increase in size and definition.
On heavy chest training days, finishing up compound exercises with drop sets is a great way of really stimulating the chest and shocking new growth from it in a relatively short space of time. As an example, on heavy days your reps will probably be between 6 and 8 reps, and on any exercise which does indeed require you to perform 6 – 8 reps, on your last working set, perform a drop set by reducing the weight so that you can immediately perform 12 reps. The amount of weight you reduce it by is up to you, but by the end of the set you will want to feel as if your chest is on fire, as this will translate into a dramatic increase in muscle strength and size.
Stay well hydrated
When it comes to various training principles, many people tend to focus solely on the training and neglect the diet and nutritional aspects of things, which is often where they end up going wrong. When you’re correctly hydrated, the average individual is close to 20% stronger than when they’re not, which is very impressive when you think about it. The stronger you become, the more weight you lift, and the more growth you stimulate as a result. Before you begin your workout you should have plenty of water already inside you, so don’t leave it until the last minute, otherwise instead of lifting you’ll need to be peeing every 10 minutes instead.