Ever wonder how to get the most out of chest day?
If you’re thinking of trying to work your way through some monster chest-day training program with 30, 40, or maybe even 50 sets, stop right there.
Yes. Those kind of bro-brain workouts exist. But you’ll do more harm than good with that approach to build a bigger chest. If you take this approach, you’ll:
- Spend hours in the gym
- Cause more-than-necessary muscle damage to stimulate growth
- Endure some serious DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) suffering
- Slow recovery time to be ready for your next workout
If you’re aiming to build a bigger chest, that’s probably not how you want chest day in the gym to go.
So what should you do to maximize chest day, without overdoing it? Here are 10 tips to maximize your next chest workout.
1. Master the Classic Lifts
The first rule of chest training. Stick to the classic lifts. Bench press, dumbbell press, incline press, flyes. These are proven movements that even the pros have used for decades for chest development. Make it a point to master the technique of these moves.
Get under the bench press bar, and what do a lot of people do? Crank out a set of reps, rack the weight, and walk away. That’s better than sitting at home on the couch. But one simple technique can recruit more muscle fibers, force more blood into the muscle, and stimulate growth, with the bench press, or any other exercise for that matter.
Squeeze the bar, hard, and then complete your reps for a set. For chest exercises, focus on squeezing your pecs hard at the top of every concentric movement.
3. Focus on Technique
Ask YouTube to serve up some bench-press-fail videos, and you’ll see people do some pretty stupid stuff. Using momentum or poor form (like arching your back), just to lift a heavier weight is a common mistake. And a dangerous one. Work through your chest day routine, and focus on using perfect technique for every exercise. It’s the best way to target the intended muscles, stimulate growth, and avoid an injury.
A chest workout that includes supersets can be a great way to hit your pecs, recruit more muscle fibers, maximize fatigue, and stimulate growth. It’s also a way to add volume to your chest-day workout in less time, because with supersets you don’t rest between sets.
Combining a compound chest exercise with an isolation exercise, can be a great way to do this. One of my recent chest workouts included a superset of dumbbell chest press followed by cable flyes.
Here’s another way to get a bigger pump on chest day. Drop sets. Let’s say your chest exercises follow a typical format like 4 sets, 8-12 reps. Complete all for sets. But after the last set, don’t rest. Drop the weight by 25 percent, and complete as many reps as possible. That’s a dropset. It’s one more way to increase volume on chest day to maximize results.
6. Increase Time Under Tension
This training technique is a great reminder that you don’t need a bro-made workout that’s going to take hours to complete to get results. This simple tweak can have a huge impact on your chest-day results.
Increase time under tension. Sometimes it’s referred to as “using a slow and controlled movement,” or “lifting tempo.”
Instead of trying to race through your reps, go slow. Complete a full range of motion, but avoid locking out. Focus on going slow, especially, through the eccentric movement (e.g. lowering the bar during the bench press). Your pecs are stretching/lengthening as you lower the weight. And the longer you take to get to the bottom of the lift, the more muscle fibers you’re recruit to stimulate growth.
7. Train Your Chest From Every Angle
Flat bench, incline, decline. Those three positions alone will help you develop your chest better than sticking with just one. Adjusting your grip from narrow to wide or vice-versa, can also have an impact on how your chest responds to training. Research shows training your chest from every angle is the best way to maximize growth and develop your upper and lower chest.
8. Finishing Moves
You’ve probably heard of the Mortal Combat video game franchise. Every character has a finishing move. I’ll spare you the gruesome details from the game. But the finishing move is basically a spectacular way to take out your opponent and win the fight. And you can apply the same principle to chest day.
Finish off your workout with a series of exercises, or even a single exercise, to force more blood into your chest muscles, get a huge pump, and ultimately get bigger and stronger.
Add this finishing move to the end of your chest day workout:
- 3 sets of dumbbell pullovers (8 to 10 reps), followed by push-ups, as many reps as possible to failure.
Want to learn how to build a bigger chest, and train smarter to maximize results? Let’s discuss on Facebook.
- Brentano, M., et al. (2017). Muscle damage and muscle activity induced by strength training super-sets in physically active men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. From: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Citation/2017/07000/Muscle_Damage_and_Muscle_Activity_Induced_by.12.aspx
- Nicholas, A.B., et al. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. Journal of Physiology. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285070.
- Lauver, J., et al. (2015). Influence of bench angle on upper extremity muscular activation during bench press exercise. European Journal of Sports Science. From: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461391.2015.1022605