See these 5 simple rules for awesome chest training.
The chest is one big muscle group, but we people in the fitness industry tend to divide it into three parts: lower, middle, and upper chest. That happens mainly because the muscle fibres are angled differently from lower, mid and upper. To target each part specifically, you should follow the muscle fibres and apply progressive overload.
To develop the upper chest, exercises that involve a higher degree of shoulder flexion such as incline bench press, incline dumbbell press, and incline flyes can be helpful. These exercises target the upper fibres of the chest muscle and can help to create a more defined and aesthetically pleasing chest.
Now, regardless of what type of exercise you will do, when training the chest, there are 5 simple rules to make the session an awesome some. Or, as Mike Israetel puts it, these aren’t rules, but rather helpful hints for your chest’s success.
Dr Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community. He doesn’t only talk about workouts and fitness tips, he often dives deep into health and nutrition.
What are these rules for awesome chest training? See them below.
5 Simple Rules for Awesome Chest Training
1.Nothing Beats Deep Presses
“Big heavy compound presses are really an almost certain ticket to big chest,” Israetel says.
There is a reason why the barbell bench press is arguably the best chest exercise. Being able to overload easily and safely, you can crunch up numbers and target your pecs fully. Flyes are good, but isolation exercises for the chest are not what will likely going to give you an enormous chest, unless you already have them quite developed.
2. Pressing “below your chest” promotes more hypertrophy via stretching under load
Although science is still confirming this, most muscles gain more hypertrophy while they are deeply stretched and loaded with a huge amount of resistance. It certainly is the case for your chest.
Deep stretch is critical under load. If you can stretch your pecs even further by pressing below your chest line, you can greatly stimulate your chest. How can you do that? With a cambered bar while doing bench presses, deficit push-ups, some machines for the chest are prepared for this, and the obvious dumbbell bench press.
“Ease into this, don’t do tons of sets at first because it will, absolutely, fuck you up in the best possible way with muscle soreness and growth.”
3. Flat and Multiple incline angles, all of them are good
There are multiple content creators who try to tell you to do one exercise over the other for better chest gains. For example, flat or inclined flyes are great, flat or inclined presses are also great.
“Press, press, press away. Decline, flat, incline. It’s all good,” Israetel says.
4. Arch your back and retract your shoulders for a better chest stretch
By arching your back and retracting your shoulders, as most powerlifters do, you end up putting yourself under the most hypertrophic muscle growth-promoting range of motion.
You don’t need to arch your back excessively, but rather think of sticking your chest out and up. Then slide your shoulder blades back and under yourself. When you press, lift your chest up to the bar through the sky, slowed and controlled.
5. Control your eccentric motion, and pause your presses
This will keep your body under more time in that stretched position, which you know now that it is the best way to stimulate muscle growth.
Simply descend slowly the barbell or dumbbell or bodyweight, pause at the bottom of the movement when your chest is mostly stretched for 1 or 2 seconds and then press back up.
This way you will increase the quality and safety of your repetitions in a session beyond what they normally would be. Although you are not doing the same amount of effort, your effort is more effective and safer.
For a full explanation, check the video below.
How Heavy Should You Lift When Training for Muscle Growth?
When training for muscle growth (hypertrophy), the weight you lift, often referred to as the training load or intensity, is an important factor to consider. Here are some guidelines to help determine how heavy you should lift:
Use a weight that challenges you: To promote muscle growth, it’s important to use a weight that challenges your muscles. This means selecting a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions within the hypertrophy rep range (generally 8 to 12 reps) with proper form, while also feeling challenging towards the end of each set.
Choose a weight that elicits fatigue: The weight you select should cause fatigue in the target muscles by the end of each set. You should feel a sense of muscular burn or fatigue during the final few reps, indicating that the weight is appropriately challenging.
Progressive overload: To continue building muscle, it’s crucial to gradually increase the demands on your muscles over time. This can be achieved through progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the weight you lift as your muscles adapt and grow stronger. Aim to progressively increase the weight as you become more comfortable with a certain weight range to continue stimulating muscle growth.
Form and technique: While it’s important to challenge yourself with heavier weights, it’s equally important to prioritize proper form and technique. Lifting weights that are too heavy and compromise your form can increase the risk of injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on maintaining good form throughout each repetition, even when using challenging weights.
Individual capabilities: The appropriate weight will vary depending on your individual capabilities, strength level, and experience. What may be heavy for one person might be light for another. It’s important to listen to your body and select weights that are appropriate for your current fitness level.
Variation in training: Incorporating a variety of rep ranges and training modalities can be beneficial for overall muscle development. While the hypertrophy rep range (8-12 reps) is commonly associated with muscle growth, including both higher rep ranges (12-15+) and lower rep ranges (6-8) in your training can provide different stimuli and promote well-rounded muscle development.
Remember, finding the right weight is a process of trial and error. Start with a weight that challenges you within the recommended rep range, and adjust as needed based on your individual capabilities and progression. Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can also provide guidance and help you determine the appropriate weight selection for your specific goals and needs.