It takes a lot of effort to develop a chest. It’s even more difficult if you’re doing it incorrectly. Take these reminders into consideration if you want to avoid being flat for a long time.
Don’t get me wrong: a good set of abs is attractive (particularly on a woman). However, for most males, having visible abs can sometimes mean that you’re skinny. A powerful chest (which also looks amazing on a lady!) is a greater example of man-muscularity. I find it strange that good arms are plentiful, yet a good set of pectorals is scarce. This is especially odd because many guys put a lot of emphasis on their chests.
So I’ve put together a list of chest-training no-no’s and common mistakes I see at the gym.
Activating Your Front Delt
Is your front delt taking over in your chest training? Retracting your shoulders to get a better range of motion and having good posture is what I notice almost everyone doing, as they should. But there’s another step you should be doing with your shoulders. Instead of only retracting your shoulders when hitting the bench, overemphasize bringing your shoulders down as well. This is called retraction and depression. This allows for more chest activation and less deltoid activation.
Overreliance on Barbell Bench Press
Barbell bench press is a great compound movement but isn’t the best chest isolation exercise. The barbell limits how far out your elbows can move. So, take a step back from the barbell, grab some dumbbells, and focus on the adduction and abduction movements through the chest press. I’m not saying to completely nix the barbell, as it does have its place (particularly with building strength), but if you really want to grow then pick up the dumbbells too.
Neglecting Full Range of Motion
Compound movements tend to reduce your range of motion. Lighter weight, full-range-of-motion movements are a great complement to your heavy compound work. To get your chest to grow, be sure to get a good stretch on the muscle by driving through the exercise, as well as muscle contraction at the peak. Getting a full stretch in the muscle while performing an exercise is key to growth: as those muscle fibers tear, by getting some protein and recovery, they will rebuild and grow.
Not Keeping the Weight in Line with Your Chest
I see it every day. Someone is doing chest presses, and when they bring the weight up, they aim to bring the weights over their head and get the dumbbells to touch. Instead of bringing the weights in front of your face, drop your shoulders down and keep the weights over your chest. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle and keep the range of motion over your chest. Don’t forget to contract the muscle!
Under Training Upper Chest
Another thing that I notice a little too often: guys just focusing on the bench press. They spend 30 minutes hogging a bench and only do variations of barbell bench press. Then they wrap up their workout, that’s it. Done. They do it with impressive weight, don’t get me wrong, But it’s still important to hit your chest from various angles and weights. Don’t forget to hit those incline presses, flyes, and cable crossovers (set the cables near the floor and pull the handles up and together on each rep).
With sloppy technique and weak form, you won’t be able to create a large chest. These five frequent training errors (or as I like to call them, “pec peccadilloes” will ensure “pectacular” results! And don’t worry, I have more to say on the matter, so be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2.