Every guy who goes to the gym wants a big chest and wants to be able to answer the question: How much do you bench? – with pride. In this article we’ll be looking at 5 exercises that can really help you to put on mass and increase the strength of your chest.
Exercises For Chest
#1 Flat Barbell Bench Press
This is the go-to exercise for pretty much every gym goer when it comes to training chest. It is the go-to exercise for good reason because when performed with correct form it is a great way to increase strength and put on some serious mass.
The important thing with this is to warm up properly. There’s no point going in, piling plate after plate on the bar and then benching 220 lbs as your first exercise. Your muscles won’t be warmed up and you’re very likely to do yourself an injury.
The best way to warm up is to perform 15 reps with just the bar for two sets, then add around 25% of your one rep max weight and perform 12 reps or so. This will get the blood pumping in your muscles and get you warmed up for the working sets to come.
We’re going to perform a pyramid exercise with this. This means starting your first working set on a weight you can manage for 12 reps, then increase the weight by 20 lbs and perform 10 reps. Then add another 20 lbs and perform 8 reps. Then add another 20 lbs and perform 6 reps. Add another 20 lbs and perform 2-4 reps. Now for the peak of the pyramid, add another 20 lbs and perform 1 rep.
It’s now time to come back down the pyramid, remove 20 lbs and perform 2-4 reps, and keep removing 20 lbs each time aiming to perform the same number of reps you did coming up the pyramid. This will be extremely tough and will work your pectorals to fatigue.
Note: It is a good idea to have a gym partner for this, as you’re working yourself to fatigue having a spotter can be important not just to help you get that one last rep, but to avoid injury.
Warm up, then 11 working sets, 2 minutes rest between sets
#2 Incline Barbell Bench Press
After the flat barbell bench the weight you can lift on incline will be reduced severely due to the fatigue in your pectorals, so don’t be over ambitious. Load the bar with around 70% of what you can normally life on incline bench and perform 5 sets of 6-8 reps.
Really focus on the form here, making sure to slowly lower the weight and raise it in an explosive manner.
Note: You can mix it up and start with incline barbell bench and do a pyramid set on this
5 sets, 6-8 reps, 2 minutes rest
#3 Dumbbell Fly’s
This is a great exercise for really focusing on the contraction and ‘squeeze’ of your chest muscles. Take a dumbbell in each hand, and set the bench to a slight incline. Lower the weights either side of you keeping your arms as straight as possible, with a slight bend in your elbow, and perform explosive repetitions.
Again, really focus on the slow decline of each movement to maintain TUT (time under tension) and work those pectorals to fatigue.
5 sets, 8-12 reps, 2 minutes rest
#4 Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
Time to grab yourself a barbell again. Lying on a flat bench grip the barbell at just inside shoulder width. If you hold the bar too close together then you will severely limit your range of motion and therefore limit your ability to contract your pectorals.
It’s probably getting boring being told this by now, but it really is so important to focus on slowly lowering the weight and explosively pushing it up. This maintains tension on the muscle, breaking down more muscle fibers, and with correct nutrition, then leads to greater growth.
5 sets, 6-8 reps, 2 minutes rest
#5 Cable Fly’s (Drop set)
This will act as your finisher to completely fatigue your chest muscles, so you’ve got nothing left to give. If you’ve really pushed yourself on the first 4 exercises then your chest should be on fire by now, meaning that you won’t be able to shift serious weight on this exercise.
There are a number of variations for cable fly’s, but for this exercise we want to be bringing the cables down from above.
Perform 12 reps and really focus on the squeeze at the bottom of the motion, holding this for 1 second, before slowly releasing to the start position. After performing 12 reps, drop the weight by half and perform another 12 reps to really fatigue the muscle.
3 drop sets, 12 reps, 90 seconds rest
It doesn’t matter how hard you push yourself in the gym, if you don’t get your nutrition right outside it then you’ll struggle to put on the lean muscle mass you want to achieve. The most important thing is to make sure you eat a balanced diet, but there are some supplements that can help with your training and recovery to bring about greater muscle growth.
✓ Impact Whey Protein
The post workout shake should be a staple of any gym-goer, as it is a great way to consume protein quickly and conveniently post workout. Impact Whey Protein comes in a variety of flavors to make sure you can have a post workout shake you’re guaranteed to enjoy, with over 80% protein content.
✓ Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine should be another staple supplement for any gym-goer looking to put on mass. Creatine is one of the most well researched sports nutrition supplements on the market today and works by increasing your levels of ATP, the energy used for contracting muscles. This allows you to work out for longer and push for more repetitions. This really is a must have supplement if you’re looking to put on lean muscle mass.
Amino Acids are very important for recovery by enhancing protein synthesis. They are very easy to consume by adding them to water in your shaker pre, post or even during your workout. Improved recovery allows you to train for longer and more regularly, helping you to increase your potential to gain muscle mass.
When you go to bed you will not eat for an extended period of time and that’s not good for your muscle recovery. Casein is a slow releasing protein source, meaning it keeps your muscles ‘fed’ during the night as you sleep, aiding recovery. This may not be part of your supplement stack yet, but it should be.
Take Home Message
So there you have it, 5 exercises to put on some serious mass on your chest. The most important thing, as with every exercise, is to focus on form. It can be very easy to let your ego get the better of you and pile the weight on, but if you aren’t performing the exercises properly then you will miss out on the true benefits.
Focus on that explosive movement and slowly returning the weight to the start position to maintain TUT, breakdown more muscle fibers and bring about that greater growth.