Chest training is a favorite for many people, and particularly for men. The chest is one of the first places people look when judging male physiques. A sizable chest is an attractive physical feature and is a pretty good indicator of a person’s general strength level. In fact, more often than not, men will gauge one another’s overall strength level solely on the basis of how much weight they can bench press. Most men who have worked out for any length of time have been asked - “How much can you bench?”
Unfortunately, that’s where one of the problems with chest training comes into play. Because bench press is often the end-all exercise for many men - as opposed to squats, deadlifts, or pullups. Many become desperate to showcase impressive feats of strength and brag about how much weight they are able to bench. As a result of this, men will often sacrifice form, efficiency, and opportunities for significant muscle growth simply for the sake of being able to brag about how much weight they can bench press.
Obviously, the ultimate goal of resistance training for the chest is to build strength, size, and definition. Therefore, here are 3 important tips that can help you maximize your time while also minimizing your opportunities for injury.
#1 Create an Environment for Growth
When you train your chest , what you should be concentrating on is microtearing the muscle and filling the muscle with blood.
While training it is important to be careful not to sacrifice your form by using too much weight. In order for the muscle to grow you must apply resistance (or workout), but the muscle actually grows during rest and recovery and through fueling the body with proper nutrition.
Whenever you develop a muscle, what you’re doing is micro-tearing it causing what we call a "pump" or swelling in the muscle. In principle, this functions the same way it would if you sprained your ankle. A sprained ankle swells and fills with blood because the body is sending blood to the ankle to create an environment for healing. When we microtear our muscles, the blood rushes to that area to heal it, thereby creating the pump we’re all familiar with. The feeling of soreness you experience the day after a hard chest workout is because of the microtears in the muscle. The process of resting the muscle and getting the proper nutrients repairs the muscle and allows it to rebuild itself even stronger so it can better handle the stress you just placed on it.
In short, the way you create a large chest is to safely apply as much stress to the muscle as you can with proper form and technique, and then get rest and recovery and proper nutrition.
#2 Get a Full Range of Motion
To thoroughly train your chest, you should start by using a chest press machine with a design that allows for a natural arc in the lifting motion. Because the chest muscles are built in an arc formation, following an arc-shaped lifting path is the key to effectively developing the chest. While you’re doing the exercise, on the negative phase as the elbows are proceeding back the shoulder should never roll forward creating an awkward position causing undue stress on the shoulder joint. Make sure that you completely open your chest by forcing your shoulders back, pulling the shoulder blades together while lifting the chest. This creates a full stretch in the pectoral region, and it guarantees you’ll get a full range of motion when you contract your chest muscles and press the weight forward and together.
As you concentrate on your form and on moving through a full range of motion, you should be sure to engage your pec-delt-tie-ins, which are the muscles that link your chest and shoulders together. Engage the muscles in this area by focusing and concentrating on the pec-delt-tie-ins this will force you to fire all the muscle fibers causing your chest to develop more fully creating a look that is more pleasing to the eye.
#3 Put Your Mind in the Muscle
It is important to focus and put your mind in the muscle you are targeting with the understanding of how to work the muscle and protect the joint. Stress to an area can cause the muscle to respond by growing, but if the joint is not considered it can get damaged in the process.
For example, whenever you use the pec deck, you don’t want to think about pushing against the weight from your hands or forearms. Instead, you should concentrate on pushing your elbow into the pad. If the forearm does the pushing, then the pressure goes directly into the elbow joint, which is the weakest point. In addition, by pressing from the forearm instead of from the elbow, you’ll minimize the amount of work the chest is doing, and transfer some of the workload into the biceps and the elbow joint. To maximize your chest development, it is important to get a full stretch, put your mind in the muscle, complete a full range of motion, and achieve a peak contraction. Most people contract the chest by moving the shoulder first, but the most effective way to develop the chest is to get a full stretch by completely opening the chest. Then put the mind in the muscle and focus on squeezing and contracting the muscle first and then start the forward movement. You further the contraction by forcing the shoulder forward in a full range of motion until you achieve a peak contraction.
I hope this explanation of "3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Any Chest Workout" has been beneficial to you. For more great fitness tips, feel free to check out the rest of the blog at RonWilliamsFitness.com, and also the Ron Williams channel on YouTube!