Almost every bodybuilder wants a bigger chest. However, just hitting the gym for a few sets of bench press and flies usually isn’t enough to fully develop the pecs. Here is a list of five tips you can add to your workouts to build that bigger chest you’re looking for.
Don’t Forget Incline Presses
While the flat bench press might be the most common gym exercise, incline presses can’t be overlooked. They target the upper pecs, which give you a fuller and bigger chest, as well as a much more “squared” off and aesthetic look in relation to the shoulders.
You can use the incline press as a supplementary exercise to your flat bench work, but many would argue that making the incline bench press your primary chest movement would be a better idea. Do it first when you’re fresh so you can use more weight and get greater muscle stimulation.
Include Bodyweight Exercises
There are some who believe that bodyweight calisthenics have a greater NMA (neuromuscular activation) than their barbell exercise counterparts. This means that all other things being equal, an exercise that has your body moving through space instead of remaining stationary while you lift a barbell is going to have a greater effect on the muscle.
This means adding push ups and dips to your workout could go a long way toward building a bigger chest. You could either use weighted versions of these movements for strength-based hypertrophy, or do a couple unweighted sets for max reps at the end of your pec workout as a finisher.
Do Plenty of Back Work
One issue some lifters run into when trying to build a bigger chest is that all they do is chest work. However, if they’re not doing a commensurate amount of upper back work, this can lead to muscular imbalances and injuries. A strong upper back can also help you maximize your bench press performance. Be sure to keep rear delt flies, band pull aparts, face pulls, and various rows as a part of your overall regimen.
Increase Training Frequency
Some believe that muscular strength and size is boosted when you increase training frequency. This doesn’t mean you have to do your normal chest workout 3-4 times per week, rather spread your chest workout across 3-4 training sessions. Each time you work out, do a different exercise with a different goal and rep range. However, implementing a higher frequency approach like this is something you generally have to do across the board, so it can lead to having to redesign your entire program.
Try Pre-Exhaustion Techniques
The problem you can sometimes run into with compound exercises is that performance can be limited by the weakest muscle used in the movement. This means if your triceps are significantly weaker than your pecs or shoulders, your bench press performance will stall before your chest is sufficiently stimulated.
You can get around this by using pre-exhaustion techniques. This is where you do a set of an isolation movement for your primary muscle group immediately prior to doing a set of a compound exercise for that same muscle. So in this case, you’d do a set of flies or cable crossovers prior to bench pressing.
Adding any of these to your chest workouts can help trigger new growth quickly. You’ll be better targeting the muscle, doing exercises than ensure fuller development, and even maximizing performance. Start off with one of the above at a time to gauge their individual efficacy, or throw them all into your routine at once for a real shock to the system.
If you liked this article, check out these 9 Bench Press Tips to build a stronger chest.