3 Tips to Take Your Chest to the Next Level

Are you struggling to see progress in your chest training routine?  Maybe you’re a powerlifter whose bench press max is lagging behind your deadlift and squat numbers.  Or maybe, you’re simply looking to boost the development of your chest.  Here are three quick, easy, and unique training tips to take your chest to the next level.

| Open your Chest by Retracting your Shoulders

While many lifters think the bench press motion is simply lowering the bar to your chest and pushing it back up, there is actually a lot more than goes into the form of chest exercises to ensure that you are getting the most out of your pectorals.

Image result for bench press form
Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

As you enter the eccentric (lowering) portion of your chest exercises, consciously retract your shoulder blades, which will open up your chest and guarantee that you are opening up the full range of motion in your chest muscles.  To practice this, watch yourself in the mirror while using a seated chest-press machine to make sure your chest is swelling outwards at the bottom of the motion.  Focus on digging your shoulder blades into your bench, and think about pinching something between the blades in order to exaggerate this aspect of the lift.  Ultimately, having an elevated chest during these exercises will recruit the lats, putting more of the load on your chest, and reducing the recruitment of your front deltoids.

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| Use Multiple Bench Angles

In addition to flat bench angles, using an inclined angle on your presses and flyes is going to put emphasis on your upper-pectorals.  Likewise, you can decrease the angle of the bench to target the lower-pectorals.

While using different bench angles, remember to open up your chest by retracting your scapula to utilize a full range of motion, helping you more fully develop your chest from top to bottom.  Another important aspect of this, is to utilize different angles for both incline and decline pressing motions.  Make sure to use different angles of depth, and elevation, to attack your pectorals from lots of different angles.  Also remember that as you increase the angle of incline on the bench, you’re going to also be more heavily recruiting your deltoids.  This is going to be the best way to ensure continued growth and development in the pectorals.

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| Follow a Dedicated Chest Program Designed for Strength

Oftentimes, inexperienced gym-goers follow a relatively random approach to their weight training.  Even if you’re sticking to a weightlifting split (such as push/pull/legs split), sticking to a specific set-range, rep-range, or set of exercises is going to ensure you hit plateaus in your progress.  Remember that this doesn’t just apply to the pectorals, but to any muscle group, so make sure you’re shocking the muscles by changing your lifts, weight-levels, and the reps and sets associated with those lifts.

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Photo credit: VENT Fitness

“Periodization, or planned variation in training volume and intensity, is extremely important for continued gains in strength,” says Krissy Kendall, PHD, CSCS and Science Editor at Bodybuilding.com. “By altering training conditions, you change muscle-fiber recruitment patterns to produce continued strength and hypertrophy.”

Simply following a pre-planned chest program that changes every month or two, is going to ensure that you’re continuing to make progress and prevent the pectorals from becoming complacent in their training.  Building a larger chest starts from strengthening the pectorals, and the best approach to this is going to be manipulating volume and intensity of the load overtime.

Author: James R. Harrison

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