Pushing For Perfect Pecs

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The pectoralis major or chest are undoubtedly the muscle most commonly trained within the human anatomy, it is trained so often that Mondays were renamed ‘International Chest Day’. If you walk into any gym, pretty much around the world on a Monday I can guarantee the majority are training chest.  But still even with its huge popularity people continue to often train the pectoralis incorrectly, these people lag behind on growth, get frustrated and ultimately give up. Most of the common mistakes are obvious while some are a little more advanced and I can forgive any novice lifter for making such a mistake

Too Much Weight, Not Enough Form.

This is the biggest sin I see most people making when training chest, they overload the bar, choose dumbbells that far outweigh themselves and show little regard of form. Trying to lift too much weight with improper form isn’t doing you any favours. Over extension of the shoulders or limited range of motion are pretty common with most guys and girls who are more interested in showing how much they can press versus properly executing the exercise. Not training the chest through its full range of motion will only limit the potential for hypertrophy. These issues can lead to excessive shoulder anterior rotation which is a common cause of most shoulder pain within young people, especially while bench pressing.

Not Enough Incline

Years of research have shown that there are benefits to training the chest from a variety of angles, however the specificity of the angle can play a key role in the development of the muscle. Any angle less than 30degree is essentially pointless and for the bench to have that option available is no more than a marketing and sales gimmick.

A well-developed chest requires both strong upper and lower pectoral development. Most people typically ask me how they can develop a powerful upper chest. Many studies have been carried out to try and ascertain which angle most favours developing this area of the pectorals, however after years of experimenting the key to unlocking a powerful is to use a variety of angles from 45degrees and upwards.

Smith Machine

There are many drawbacks to using the smith machine for training chest and they far outweigh the positives to using it. Many make the mistake of using the smith machine to train their chest and I am going to explain why I believe this is incorrect.

The shoulder functions through three planes of movement. Now the smith machine steadies the weight for you, so the rotator cuff that stabilises the shoulders doesn’t need to work as hard. This will then create an imbalance in these muscles, yes you may have a strong chest but your rotator cuff far weaker. One day you may decide to use the bench press instead, when you try to lift a similar weight don’t be surprised when you hurt your shoulder.

2 Great Tips to Build the Perfect Pecs

So without further or do I want to give you my two of my favourite approaches for building a bigger chest, now I am not going to tell you to try a single-arm press, or perhaps to use a 60-degree angle on the incline bench. Instead I wish to give you 2 tips that I hope at least one of you haven’t used or heard of before! Something unique that you can introduce into your own training programme and see fantastic chest development from.

Swiss Balls

The Swiss Ball is a versatile fitness tool that can be used at home or in the gym. Yes, I am talking about the large inflatable thing you see pregnant women using. This isn’t something that you should be embarrassed to use, in fact you would be mad not to use it when training your pecs.  

This is a great example of an incline, Swiss Ball chest press. **Note the angle of the torso, and how close the gluteus are to the floor.

This is a great example of an incline, Swiss Ball chest press. **Note the angle of the torso, and how close the gluteus are to the floor.

Performing a dumbbell press while on a Swiss Ball, an unstable surface, will actively engage the core throughout the range of motion. This unstable environment will allow for a far greater recruitment of the shoulder stabilisers, and the round surface of the Swiss Ball will enable you to lower the dumbbells over a greater range of motion. This increase in range will provide a greater stretch for the chest and the unstable environment will increase the recruitment of the rotator cuff, both factors are a great way to develop an impressive chest and prevent injury.

Build A Bigger Chest with ‘The Chest Dip’

Here you can see Arnold performing a weighted chest dip, **note the angle of his torso.

Here you can see Arnold performing a weighted chest dip, **note the angle of his torso.

There are two basic types of dips. One will emphasise the shoulders and triceps and too much lesser degree the pectorals. While another is commonly known as The Chest Dip, and will emphasise the pectorals and the lateral head of the triceps. The lateral head is the part of the triceps that sticks out on the side of your arm, it inserts into your elbow and originates from the top of your Humerus.

The Chest Dip is an excellent movement because it allows for the training of the chest and triceps together, in a way that uses a greater mass of muscle from more muscle groups. You should be able to dip more weight than you are bale to press obviously this including your own bodyweight and not any weight you may have added on. This would indicate that more muscles are working together to move your body through the full range of motion.

To perform The Chest Dip, place your hands slights wider than shoulder-width. As you descend flare your elbows outwards and you will lean forward. Instead of trying to press with your arms as you come up, focus on bringing your elbows together and squeezing your pecs.

This exercise will place the greatest amount of stress on your chest without involving too much of the upper chest and shoulders. For that reason, it is my second tip to building a bigger chest and The Chest Dip must be an exercise within your training arsenal.

Hope this helps you build a strong chest :)

Jonny

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