Hercules. Image credit: ty law.
If you train in a big commercial gym, you've probably noticed Monday is National Bench Day. Everyone seems to be training their chest. Tuesday is often National Bench Day part 2 with more of the same.
But how do you train your chest efficiently for maximum growth? In this post I'll explain you which mistakes you must avoid to build a bigger chest and the right method to increase your chest size.
Top 3 Chest Building Mistakes. Training your chest muscles 4x/week using pro bodybuilders routines is wasting your time. Especially if you're skinny.
- Isolation Exercises. You can't stress your chest with heavy weights using exercises like dumbbell flies. So you won't trigger the release of Testosterone & Growth Hormone as much as with compounds.
- Eating Like a Pigeon. You'll never get a big chest if you're 120lbs at 6'. Training your chest 3x/week won't get it bigger unless you eat more.
- Isolating Your Chest. Although your chest has to 2 main heads, it's 1 muscle and contracts as a whole. You can't isolate your upper or lower chest. You can only emphasize it.
Here's How to Build a Bigger Chest. The key to increasing the size of your chest muscles is to eat more and get stronger. Build a foundation before you even think of adding isolation exercises.
- Eat More. Your chest will never be big if you're underweight. Check the minimum weights for your height. To gain weight: eat every 3 hours and focus on calorie dense foods. Read the weight gain & GOMAD guides.
- Do Heavy Compounds. Free weight compound exercises like the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press and Overhead Press are the fastest way to build overall strength & bulk. Do them often & heavy.
- Train Your Legs. Squats & Deadlifts help chest growth by increasing the release of muscle building hormones like Testosterone and Growth Hormone. Get stronger at them. Read 5 reasons to train your legs.
- Rest. Your muscles grow when they rest, not when you train them. Train your chest maximum 2x/week. Eat your calories so your chest gets the nutrients it needs to recover and grow bigger.
- Lift Fast. Lifting fast recruits more muscle fibers and lets you use more weight, which stimulates chest growth. Lift as fast as you can on the way up with good technique. Way down under control but not slow.
- Use Proper Technique. A partial bench press doesn't work your chest through a full range of motion. Touch your shirt on the way down, lock your elbows at the top. Lower the weight if you have to.
- Set Realistic Goals. Even if you train and eat exactly like your idol, you’ll never get the same muscle shape. Developing your muscles is training and diet. But the shape of your muscles is genetics.
- Be Patient. Especially if you're still a teen. Your body is still developing. You won't get the chest development of a 30y old if you're only 15. Build the foundation and be patient. Your chest will change as you get older.
Top 4 Chest Building Exercises. Don't do things like Bench Pressing to your neck or with your elbows out. Both are potentially dangerous and will injure your shoulders. Use exercises where you can go heavy safely.
- Bench Press. Allows you to stress your body with heavy weights. Forget about getting a bigger chest if you can't at least bench your body-weight for 5x5 (so at least 160lbs for 5x5 if you weigh 160lbs).
- Push-ups. Closed-chain exercise. Useless done for reps without added resistance. Do Push-ups against a resistance band or weighted.
- Weighted Dips. If your shoulders can take them: dips between parallel bars while wearing a belt with weight will build your chest muscles.
- Dumbbell Press. Increase chest growth by stretching your pecs on the way down. But you can't use as much weight as with barbells.
Check StrongLifts 5x5 for a strength training that includes many of the above concepts and that which help you gain weight and increase the size of your chest. Read the success stories and start a training log.