Training the chest is almost certainly the all-time favorite workout for weight trainers. The buzz of shifting impressive poundage and training those big muscles to an aching yet wholly satisfying pump is just about the best sensation you can get in the weight room.
Everyone loves training the pecs; if it’s not your favorite bodypart to train, it has to be way up there.
From the warm up through the adrenaline of sliding under a hefty load on the bench to grinding out the last few skin-shredding reps and admiring your hard work, chest day is a real feel-good session.
Getting back to basics, the pectoralis major muscles are spread across the upper frontal torso and can be classified into two sections, upper and lower. The main function of the pecs is to move the arms inwards and away from the body, as in the benchmark chest exercise, the hallowed bench press.
Aesthetically, the pecs sit right up there at the front of the body, setting the tone of muscularity and thickness. They contribute hugely to chest circumference, and good development of their associated muscles improves health by increasing lung capacity and respiratory strength.
Here are some important do’s and don’ts for getting the most out of your chest training…
Warm Up Properly
This is a total no brainer.
The warm up is an ESSENTIAL part of any resistance workout, but is especially important when performing the big compound lifts such as the bench press. Jumping straight in with little or no warm up is just asking for serious injury. The bench press is the most common source of game changing shoulder injuries. Respect it!
A proper warm up is focused toward three key goals-
Always tailor your warm up to suit the upcoming activity. For chest day, you could begin with some light mobility work; shoulder wheels, side twists etc. Next, move on to light cardio exercise that uses the upper body. A rowing machine is perfect. Once the blood is flowing, move to some LIGHT stretching. Do not apply too much pressure to a cold muscle or you risk doing far more harm than good.
Finally, hit the bench for a few warm up sets. Start with just the bar. Push out 40 or 50 reps to get your muscles and joints into the groove. Now add a little weight and push out one or two more high-rep sets before moving onto the lightest of your working sets.
Add BCAA’s To Your Workout Nutrition
The branched chain amino acids are essential for getting the most out of your workouts, especially when the intensity is high (it always should be!). BCAA’s flood the bloodstream with energy-rich protein fragments, meaning that far less of your hard-earned muscle tissue will be broken down for fuel.
Sheer BCAA is a pure and highly potent blend that has been scientifically engineered for optimum performance, recovery, and growth. Take it before, during, and after training for best results.
Get a Spotter
In order to safely and effectively push yourself on chest day, you need a spotter.
A spotter is not only there to stop you from being crushed on your big sets, they can also provide that little extra assistance to help you grind out that final muscle-building rep.
Spotters are also good for morale, and when morale is high, the PB’s start to fall.
Hit All Angles
Don’t just grind out a load of flat bench work. The pecs are large and very dynamic muscles and they like to mix it up a little. Use incline and decline bench positions as well as various grips and bars. When performing cable flyes, use a different position for each set.
Mix it up, hit every angle of your chest, and watch it grow.
You always hear people talk about how the big compound lifts should always be done first. While this may be the best strategy for building strength, it won’t necessarily give you the best muscular gains. Using the pre-exhaust method on alternate workouts is an excellent way to isolate and blast the chest, getting deep into the fibers.
If you feel that your triceps or shoulders tire first when benching, the pre-exhaust system is perfect for you. Isolate the chest with various flyes and pullovers before you hit the bench and let your pecs do all the pressing.
The pecs love the negative portion of the lift. Simple as that. Never just let the weight drop onto your chest. Control it all of the way down and feel those muscle fibers burn. To really push the eccentric phase you NEED a good spotter. NEVER attempt a heavy, ultra slow negative by yourself.
Hit Front Delts After Chest
The front deltoid heads are a relatively small muscle, but they get hit real hard through the course of a week’s weights sessions.
Do you feel that bruised burn in your front delts the day after training chest?
It’s a common thing, and it can lead to overtraining of this small and hard-working area.
Training front delts at the end of chest day is a great way to compliment your workout and avoid overstressing this secondary muscle.
Creatine is a must-have supplement for weight trainers of all kinds. The creatine molecule acts as a relay runner within the cells, ferrying additional fuel right into the heart of the action, meaning that you can push out that extra all important rep. Sheer Creatine is made from 100% creatine monohydrate, the original and best. Take before and after training for optimum results.
Now for the no-no’s…
Don’t Always Use a Barbell
The most well-known form of the bench press is the flat barbell version. While barbells are excellent for warming up and going for PB’s, dumbbells are far superior at building muscle and working the pecs through a greater and safer range of motion.
Dumbbells are better for the shoulders and elbows as they allow for a more natural position and arc. They also allow you to bring the weights together at the top of the movement, squeezing the chest muscles and really working the inner pecs.
Don’t Do 20 Sets!
The days of hitting the bench for 20 big sets are long gone…and good riddance!
Quality should be emphasized over quantity.
Don’t Go Too Heavy
It’s easy to fall into the dreaded ego trap on chest day and start trying to show off with huge weights, neglecting form and risking injury.
Always use perfect form, through a controlled and full range of motion.
Don’t Overdo the Pressing
Put simply, heavy pressing is bad for the shoulders and elbows and is the leading cause of injuries to these areas. Although pressing should form the core of your chest workout, it shouldn’t dominate. Add in plenty of isolation movements to avoid picking up a nasty repetitive strain injury.
Don’t Rest Too Long
Intensity, intensity, INTENSITY! Intensity is the key to building muscle. Keeping rest times down and intensity high causes natural testosterone and growth hormone levels to skyrocket.
Resist the temptation to recover for longer between sets so that you can lift heavier weights. Aim to keep rest to between 45 and 90 seconds for bench pressing, and less for isolation movements. Get in and out of the gym, performing as much work in as little time as possible. Keep workouts under an hour in order to keep anabolism high and stress hormones low.
High-intensity training leads to intense pumps. There’s no better way to compliment this phenomenon than adding a nitric oxide booster to your pre-workout stack. Sheer Nitro is put together from powerful ingredients that are scientifically proven to increase blood flow and give you pumps like you’ve never experienced before.
Don’t Train Chest On Monday
In every serious iron gym around the world, Monday is chest day. The weekend is over and everyone wants to hit their pecs to kickstart the week on a high. See the problem?
Monday is the WORST day to train chest because you’re always fighting for the equipment you need. Why not finish the week with chest and head into the weekend with that satisfying tenderness that we all know and love?
Don’t Neglect the Good Old Push Up
The humble pushup is often frowned upon by bodybuilders and strength trainers.
This is a mistake.
The pushup is a hugely versatile exercise that can yield great results.
By using different hand positions, you can hit the chest from a huge variety of angles.
Add a weighted vest or other similar piece of equipment to increase resistance.
Pushup stands are brilliant for adding extra depth and taking strain off of the wrists.
Raising the feet up allows you to make the movement harder still while pushing effort onto the often neglected upper pec area.