Hey Guys – if you want to learn how to build the perfect chest, check out this guest article prepared by my buddy Paul Becker
If you are a guy who wants a physique that is both muscular and chiseled, it needs to be well-proportioned, symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing and attainable, all at the same time. If that is the case, you need to build up your pecs the right away.
Although there aren’t any shortcuts to getting perfect chest muscles, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to do things. Developing well-shaped swollen, rock-hard pecs are notoriously difficult for ectomorphs who have trouble putting on any weight.
But a well-designed chest routine combined with some good eating habits will soon have you sporting a T-shirt splitting upper body if the program is well designed and used correctly. Before we discuss the specific movements for developing the perfect chest, we need to go through the muscle structure of the chest.
Your chest is made up of two distinct muscle groups: the large pectoralis major, plus the smaller but just as important pectoralis minor that lie underneath the pec major. Your thick flat pec major originates somewhere along the anterior surface of your clavicle, it then sweeps down all the way to the sternum, and then from your cartilage of the rib cage.
The pecs then insert into the inter-tubular groove at the top of your humerus (upper arm). Your narrow, triangular pec minor will originate from your upper and the outer surfaces of your three ribs that insert into the coracoid process, which is that bony protrusion next to your shoulder joint.
Your pectorals major is responsible for many different actions that involve the humerus, like lifting the arm from your side (adduction), or to the front (flexion). But the pectoralis major is also responsible for turning the humerus inwards, like the arm-wrestling motion (internal rotation). The pec minor has only one major function, to stabilize your scapula.
We will first look at some movements that you may not have considered before, if you have been training your chest with weights on a regular basis. If you have never trained with weights, we will not be covering the basic pec development movements like bench press, D/B press, D/B flies, cable crossovers, and push-ups.
We are going to be discussing some rather advanced training techniques that can easily be learned. The objective is to create a user friendly, easy to understand way to develop that perfect chest that you are looking to develop.
- The 180-degree twisting D/B bench-press
Depending on the genetics you’re born with, doing a normal bench-press can often lead to tearing your pec major. Often the shoulder lands up taking too much strain when doing a standard bench-press with a barbell, which is why it is often better to use dumbbells rather.
A study was done that showed that using a supinated grip when doing an isometric hold with dumbbells increased the muscle fibers activated when doing a press or fly motion. Compared to the normal pronated grip the supinated grip, when doing a D/B press gets better results.
The movement starts with you holding two dumbbells with the standard grip with your palms forward, while lying back on the bench holding with your arms extended above your chest.
You then slowly lower the D/B’s to your chest, at the bottom you then press and rotate the dumbbells 180 degrees while you push back up to the starting position. It is important to have a supine grip, so that your pinkies are inward and your palms are now facing your face when you are at the top of this movement.
You then hold this peak contraction about 2 seconds before you start lowering the dumbbells as you start the next rep. It is important to keep your shoulders both flat back and down when during this press, so that you are able to maximize your pec involvement and minimize any deltoid takeover.
- Close-grip weighted push-ups
There is no doubt that the push-up is perfect for chest development but you need to perform the movement in a certain way, so that you can maximize pectoral activity. Doing a close-grip weighted push-up with the plate resting on your back, is a perfect movement to enhance chest development after you are done trashing your chest with normal weight training.
When doing close-grip push-ups your narrow hand position will bring out the use of your inner pecs while the extra added weight lying across your back elevates this movement from a normal everyday move, to a pec destroyer.
A study was done at the Mayo Clinic looking at the three different positions of hands when doing a push-up. The study looked at shoulder-width, wider than shoulder-width and narrower than shoulder-width. The results showed that the EMG activity on the pectoralis major was the greatest when the push-up was done with a narrow grip.
- Cable Crossovers 21’s
Any cable work is always a great addition to training with free weights because it will provide constant tension through the full range of the range of motion. According to a study that was done recently by the American Council on Exercise, which examined 9 different chest exercises, the cable crossover, when done bending forward will produce the same EMG activity in the pecs as the bench-press, rated highest.
Adjusting the load is easy, so doing a multi-set of 21’s works perfectly with cable crossovers is effective and efficient. You get the benefit of attacking the chest from a multiple of different angles and weight adjustments using the high, mid-level or lowest levels all in one tri-set.
Always remember when isolating the pecs, you need to make sure that you’re your body is dead still and the movement comes from the shoulders and not your hips. If you isolate the movement on the shoulders only, you will be able to maximize the stretch on the contraction when doing each rep.
The first 7 reps are done in the low position with the pulley lower than your knees on either side, set in the lowest position. Grabbing both handles with a staggered stance of one foot in front of the other, you are leaning slightly forward of your hips.
You then grab the handles with an underhand grip and squeeze the cables upwards to the level of your eyes. You then complete 7 reps in this position. The second 7 reps are done in the middle position, about shoulder height.
Grabbing the handles and the chest forward stance of the previous 7 reps you then squeeze out another 7 reps. Pause when you feel that stretch on your pecs as you squeeze it back to the center, with elbows slightly bent and locked.
The final 7 reps are performed in the high position above your head, you then grab the handles and step forward into that staggered stance and press both handles down and forward in front of your abs, with palms forward.
- The Kettlebell Fly
It is harder to grip Kettlebells compared to dumbbells, making each rep a bit tougher to complete. When you use Kettlebells for flys you will be able to recruit a lot more muscle fibers when the weight is hanging below palm level, you’ll work a lot harder on each rep.
You should start off using Kettlebells that are at least 10 lbs lighter than the weight you would normally use for D/B flys. Correct form is vitally important, so make sure that if your elbows start bending too much you then need to take lighter Kettlebells and not settle for a half-fly or a half press.
To perform the Kettlebell fly you need to get yourself in the same position you would for D/B flys or press. Then holding the kettlebells above your chest with palms hanging down, you then arc your shoulders back, lowering your arms with your elbows slightly bent, you should feel a stretch across your pecs.
You should then pause and try to contract your pecs against that extra resistance provided by the kettlebells at the very bottom of your range. You then start squeezing your pecs while you bring the arms back upwards in a huge wide hugging motion. You then finish off the rep keeping shoulders back, while you squeeze both pecs together at the top.
- Forward leaning Dip
Dips are a great compound exercise that uses your own bodyweight. But when doing dips in the upright position you will be isolating more triceps, however, by simply leaning forward this already-effective exercise will stimulate more pec muscle fibers.
Start off in the normal dipping position where you put your hands on the bars as you push yourself upward till your elbows get locked-out. With your legs crossed behind your bent knees, with your core tight and your glutes and hamstrings braced. You then pull your crossed legs backwards so that you are leaning forward, that your upper body is at about 30 degrees to the ground.
You then lower yourself to where your shoulders will be lower than your elbows, or when you start to feel a good stretch on the pecs. You need to listen to what your body is saying and never push through any shoulder pain.
You then push yourself upwards by extending the elbows to 180 degrees as you lock out. You should help with the contraction by visualizing the pec squeeze while you are driving upwards, it won’t happen without you consciously thinking about it.
You should attempt this movement on your own but if you find that leaning forward is awkward, then having your training partner lift your crossed legs behind you helps a lot. More weight can easily be added with a belt and/or chains to make the movement more challenging.
Caution should be taken by anyone with a history of shoulder injuries when doing weighted dips. If you have any potential shoulder injury you can still do the movement, but change the depth you go. Full range of motion is necessary but not at the risk of any injury, that’s stupid.
About The Author:
Paul Becker is a natural (steroid free for life) bodybuilder and fitness consultant. Visit his website at http://www.bodybuilding-store.com