A few tips from someone with a lagging chest
02-03-2011 05:18 PM
A few tips from someone with a lagging chest
My chest has always been one of my least responsive muscles to training. Though it's still not where I want it to be, I've maken a lot of progress in the past year or so just because of changes in my technique. My bench hasn't gone up (I actually used to bench more, but my chest looks better now) but my chest looks a lot fuller and shapely. I figured I'd go ahead and post a few things that have worked for me just in case someone else might be able to benefit.
First off, let me describe my physique and chest shape. I think people with similar proprotions and shapes should pay more attention to advice given by others with similar phsyqiues. That's just my opinion of course, but it's always made more sense to me that way. For example, a contrast to this would be me taking ver batum advice from a bulky mesomorph. May work for him, but I'd have to adjust it to work for me. Anyway, I tend to be naturally leaner with a generally hard time gaining mass (if I were to bulk up to say, 190lbs, if I don't work my ass off to keep that weight, I'll revert back to about 180lbs relatively quickly). So eventually my goal went from gaining as much mass as possible to shaping the mass I have to the best proportions I can (though I don't complain if I notice I've gained a pound or two of lean mass every once in a while). My chest is nautrally flat and only consistent training over the years has pushed it out. The bottom part of my chest has that upside down V look that comes up to about a little less than my middle chest, which makes it quite hard to develop a full muscle structure. And up until about a year ago, the lines surrounding my chest weren't very distinguished, especially the outside bottom. So if this sounds anything like your physique, check out some of the tips that have helped me. Even if you're built different I'm sure you could still benefit from what's helped me...
1.) Make incline presses the majority of your pressing movements. You'll still keep the mass building benefits of heavy presses but the more you can fill out the upper chest, the more full your chest will look. Do regular flat bench presses but don't let sheer poundage become your primary goal as I've found. I'd say keep incline presses about 75% of your pressing movements (not necessarily in one workout, but overall).
2.) Neck presses... You have to be careful to get the technique down, but once you do, you'll notice your upper chest will respond a lot more than with regular incline presses. In all honesty, neck presses are about the only thing that feels like it's working the upper chest. Incline presses have that feel more than flat presses but not to the extent of neck presses. Research this movement and learn to incorperate it. You don't want to go super heavy here as you risk damaging your shoulders. Learn what weight works (I usually do 10-12 reps) and keep it slow and in controll. This isn't a power movement but one to stress the upper chest as much as possible. I don't do these a lot (maybe 10% of my overall pressing) but they do work.
3.) Dips! Dips are one of the best exercises for chest regardless of your muscle structures. Just make sure you're getting a good stretch at the bottom. Sometimes if I want my triceps to get stressed more, I'll push myself up all the way. If I'm more targeting my chest specifically, I'll come up about 2/3 of the way, or maybe slighly less.
4.) Dumbbell pullovers. The ones where you're lying with your upper back on the bench, perpendicular, with your ass low. Feel it stretch, especially when it comes to the serattus. Very good after incline presses or flyes because of the stretch you get.
5.) When doing flyes, concentrate more on "feel" than on simply completeing the movement. Establishing "feel" is extremely important with flyes if you have a hard time developing chest.
6.) Flex between sets. After a set of chest, flex the muscles for a good 10 seconds or so to keep that blood pumped into the muscle. You don't want to lose that intensity! Keep the blood in the muscle, keep the muscle fuller and tigher, makes the lift feel better. You do a lift, wait 4-5 minutes and go do another set and you're going to find it's harder because you've lost some of that pump. Flex between sets to keep the pump going as long as you can!!! At the end of your workout, flex for a few minutes. If upper chest is a real problem, learn to flex the upper chest as hard as possible. Doing this consistently helps develop the upper chest more, and the more your upper chest responds, the fuller your chest looks (no upper chest = haning pec look).
7.) Stretching is something that's probably helped me fill my chest out the most. After every couple sets or so I may stretch the chest out and at the end of my chest workout I'll spend at least 3-4 minutes stretching just the chest.
8.) Back development. The more your back develops the more your chest will develop. It may even be a good idea to traing chest with back sometimes. Full range of motion on evertying (most of the time anyway) but especially on back exercises. I've found no real benefit of doing partial reps with exercises like pullups or bent over rows. Full range of motion will help create a wide, detailed back. And the more your back fills out and widens out, the more your chest will. Wide back, wide chest.
Hope this helped a little. I know some of the info here is a bit redundant but these techinques, done consistently, have helped me. And like I said, my bench hasn't gone up much in the meantime (because I don't care about sheer poundage) yet my chest has developed into a fuller shape. So I'm living proof that technique is vital to building shape, especially if you're a hardgainer like me. I'd love to be able to build myself up to a 220lbs frame, but it's just not in the cards for me. So I take my 180lbs frame and shape it out the best I can. If you're in proportion, you'll look good, wether you're 150lbs or 220lbs. Asthetic is asthetic.
P.S - These are soley my opinions, so take them for what they're worth. Like all of us you'll probably have to adjust them somewhat to suit your personal needs.
02-03-2011 05:36 PM
Good tips bro. Thank you!
04-16-2011 03:00 AM
nice write up man, thanks a lot
04-16-2011 06:24 AM
I am similar my delts and arms grow like crazy but my chest seems alot slower.
I would include pushups till failure a couple times a day.
I dropped all decline movements, only did flat bench for one exercise and hit the chest on 4 different inclines varying between flyes, db presses and pullovers!
04-16-2011 09:24 AM
Yup. I'd also mention - or try out if you haven't - doing negatives. Since I started them back in December/January I have not done a straight bench set since, except on deload days.
Originally Posted by Type O Hero
04-16-2011 09:53 AM
Got the same issue good tips I'm gonna start using, I recently started doing the Incline first so I could do more weight more reps, I dont think Im ready to give up decline though.
04-17-2011 02:24 AM
If all else fail... Try putting as much abuse on that muscle as you can on that day that it only has 2 options break down or get bigger. Got this technique from a guy on YouTube(Sean kong) i always do it on my arms works for me I don't count sets and reps as long as I can squeeze all the strength out of that muscle within an hour. The only downside is I get cramps at night right after training it
04-17-2011 04:58 AM
Sounds like someone is a fan of Arnold's lifting advice! I agree with all that you've said, and having the same physique as you, I'll share a couple more tips that I've found:
To really hit the upper chest, try 3 sets each of 3 dumbbell inclines at varying angles. The first 3 sets, the bench should be a couple clicks above flat, the next 3 it should be in the middle and the final 3 it should be a couple clicks above that.
I move on from that to 3 sets of flat bench flies (controlled but as heavy as i can manage) then finaIly to 3 sets of dumbbell pullovers. I also find that supersetting chest with back works quite well.
That is my monday lifting day, then on Fridays before I do arms (which are the easiest for me to build) I'll do 4 or 5 sets of fairly heavy flat bench and then 2 sets of static weighted flies, aiming for holding for 45 seconds to 1 minute per set.
This routine has yielded some great results, even after only a few weeks, so I would recommend it to try for anyone who is a hardgainer in the chest area.
04-17-2011 09:05 AM
Originally Posted by Type O Hero
Yes and yes!
Especially the scapula retractors (middle traps, rhomboids). The pecs attach to the rib cage, sternum, and collar bone, and insert into the humerus (upper arm bone). But what many people do not understand is the relationship between the scapula (shoulder blades), the humerus, and the pecs. When the scapula are pulled back, the pecs are slightly stretched, and when doing a press or fly, they are fully recruited. However, when the scapula protract (come forward), the length-tension relationship of the pecs is lost and the anterior delts take over. Hence why many people who struggle to develop their pecs have over developed front delts. Thus, if they serratus and pec minor over powers the traps and rhomboids, pec major development is stunted.
So, train your scapula retractors (wide grip overhand rows (bent over barbell, seated cable, etc.) to the chest, face pulls, band pull a parts, etc.) with as much if not more volume and intensity. Keep your shoulder blades pinched together when training your pecs - technique, technique, technique. Then, you will see growth.
04-17-2011 08:59 PM
This is another good find i will take on board your advice man thanks, i kind of have the same problem, i pack on muscle on my chest relatively quickly compared to my other body parts though my upper chest is underdeveloped and i would say the same for lower. Like most i obsess with flat bench.
On another note i find it hard as hell gaining mass on my arms more so my bi's if anyone could share some info with me id really appreciate it thanks again for the info.
04-18-2011 08:15 AM
Running with the Big Boys
my tip to these ppl....hit alot of upper chest
05-10-2011 09:36 PM
decline bench doesnt do alot for you.
since i dropped it and stuck wsith flat and 3 diffrent inclines for all chest movements i got bigger, especially my upper chest. i also do 5 sets of close grip to hit the middle a bit more but decline is basically useless for building mass ! but it is goood for shaping/toning (think cable crossovers)
05-25-2011 10:48 AM
I would not agree with this. It's been shown that proper technique on decline bench press works a greater amount of your overall chest than any other press.
Originally Posted by SwolePole
I would say I definitely fit into the OP's category, my chest has always been lagging.
One thing I would like to add, wide grip decline bench... heavy, with proper warms up sets. Put a lot more mass overall on my chest than anything else. You can go far heavier in decline than incline, as the incline position will tend to target the delts too much once fatigued or going heavy... so it's tricky. You have to find the sweet spot with incline bench.
People with lagging chests tend to have very developed delts I find, so doing presses which take away from the delts really helps. The wides grip takes away from your tris too, and focuses more on the chest.
- heavy decline bench
- incline bench (really pinch your shoulder blades together and push your chest out while setting up to press)
- heavy cable flies (focusing on TUT and the 'feel'), I do these bent over with the cables set in a high position, squeezing hard at the end of the movement. These are great for mass and shaping, and put striations in my upper chest
The one thing which has never been much use to me, is the dumbbell pullover. Always feels awkward to me and doesn't feel like it's doing much (besides stretching) or working the muscle very much. Maybe I need to work on this one some more.
05-27-2011 07:31 AM
The wide grip actually places more emphasis on the anterior delts, and is suicide on the shoulder joint.
Originally Posted by Gutterpump
Same with a lot of your cable flies.
05-27-2011 08:39 AM
Can we define what a wide grip here is? Because I definitely do not see this.
Originally Posted by ZiR RED
For instance, taking the extreme case of a close grip bench press, widening your grip will start to de-emphasize your triceps and recruit more muscle fibers. So do you mean to say once you reach a certain point it becomes more shoulders?
05-27-2011 08:58 AM
I don't mean a super wide grip, but gripping an inch or two wider than normal. This grip on decline BB press, really fires up my pecs. I hardly feel it in my delts or tris. It's almost similar to doing dips but less tricep emphasis.
Originally Posted by ZiR RED
Heavy bent over cable flies also have really improved my chest. I haven't had any issues with the shoulder at all with them. I'm using about 80-90 pnds per side with perfect form, really squeezing at the end. I've never had issues with my shoulder joint / RC / etc in the past.
05-27-2011 12:59 PM
If you keep your shoulder blades anchored together, then it is a decent exercise. However, from personal observations the majority of people heavy flies are using a lot more anterior delt, serratus and pec minor than pec major. The results are manifest in shoulder protracty, internal rotation, and poorly developed pecs.
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