There’s no doubt about it, that when it comes down to males lifting and ego in the weight room, the chest is hands down the biggest “I’m the strongest” factor.
Face it, whenever you start building muscle or mass, the first question people will ask you is almost always, “hey, how much can you bench?” The bench press is seen by many in both the past and the present as the most difficult test of true strength in the gym. Being able to push such a heavy amount of weight off of your chest in a controlled form is a feat that many weightlifters aim for.
Back in the early days of bodybuilding with Arnold and Frank Zane, the chest was one of the most masculine muscle parts to train in order to achieve such a muscular physique for competition. So how does one go about growing the chest to such size as the great Arnold and others have in the past?
Well, first thing is to look back at what exercises the main bodybuilders focused on for chest growth. As it turns out, the list is actually pretty small, and remains small for the simple reason that these 5 chest exercises provide the pectoral muscles with such immense stimulation that it helps promote growth beyond any other exercises in comparison.
Big Chest 1: Barbell Bench Press
The first exercise, which is also the most popular exercise, is the Barbell Bench Press. This exercise involves using a flat bench with a barbell suspended above you in which you push the weight off of the rack and slowly lower the weight down to your chest, pausing for a second or two, before explosively pushing the weight back up off of your chest to its original starting position.
It’s best to use a weight that you can easily control while at the same time having a spotter or someone stand above you to help lift the weight in case you are unable to complete a rep for any reason.
✓ Perform the Barbell Bench Press for a total of 5 sets with reps of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4. With each set decreasing in rep range, you should be increasing the weight load to help provide maximum tension and muscle stimulation.
Big Chest 2: Barbell Incline Press
The second exercise is the Barbell Incline Bench Press. This is essentially the exact same thing as the Barbell Bench Press, however, instead of lying flat on the bench, the bench is now set up in an incline at around 45 degrees or more to help target more of the upper chest fibers instead of the entire pectoral region as with flat bench.
Make sure to bring the weight down to your chest and not stopping short while exploding up.
✓ You will also want to perform this with a slow controlled movement with explosive power on the push up for a total of 5 sets with reps of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4.
Big Chest 3: Flat Bench DB Fly
The third exercise is the Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly. This requires lying down on a bench parallel to the ground with two dumbbells in hand.
Bring the dumbbells up touching each other to start, while slowly releasing them and lowering them to your sides, essentially opening your arms to the point in which your hands/arms are perpendicular to your head and your arms and chest are stretched out as far as possible.
✓ Perform each rep in a slow and controlled fashion while stretching as far as possible, while at the same time inhaling on the release and exhaling on the contraction or return. Perform this exercise for around 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Big Chest 4: Dips
The fourth exercise is the dip. The dip is usually seen by many as a triceps exercise, however, if you lean forward into the dip and have your chest out in front of your legs and not in line to which your body is no longer straight up and down and now angled, it will create tension on your pectoral fibers.
If you are able to perform dips with ease, I recommend adding weight using a weight belt of placing a dumbbell between your feet to create more tension on your chest and arms.
✓ Perform this exercise for 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 while moving as slow and controlled as possible.
Big Chest 5: DB Pullovers
The last exercise and one of the most forgotten, is the dumbbell pullover. This requires the use of a bench in which the person will lie his back on the bench to which only the upper back/traps area is resting on the bench and the rest of the body is not touching the bench.
Grabbing a dumbbell with both hands, lift the weight above your head until its directly above your face. Slowly bring the weight back behind your head while lowering it to the ground as slow as possible and as far as possible to ensure maximum stretch in the fibers.
Once the weight is as low as you can go, slowly return the weight by lifting it back up above your face while squeezing your chest muscles as hard as possible the entire time in order to help stimulate the fibers and create an increase in tension. That’s rep 1.
✓ Perform this for 4 sets of 10-15 reps while using the heaviest weight you can control.
Smash your Chest!
With each exercise, try your best to keep your feet planted on the floor or off of the floor to ensure that only your upper body is moving and not your lower body. By keeping your feet of the floor though, it will help engage the upper body/chest and core more which in turn creates greater tension and stimulation in the chest/pectoral muscles.
You will also get a greater stretch in the fibers by using dumbbells for flyes instead of the pec deck fly machine. If you prefer to use the machine that is fine as it will still work, however, free hand dumbbells will yield greater results for your chest.
Also, focus on form for each exercise over weight. It’s more beneficial to perform reps properly at a lighter and more controlled weight instead of sloppy form with partial reps at a weight you struggle to move. With each rep using a bar, bring the bar down until it touches your chest and push off. Avoid bouncing the bar on your chest/pecs.