Here’s my question!
I’m in my early thirties and work out on a consistent basis. I have good arms and a pretty flat stomach – but try as I might I just can’t seem to build up much of a chest.
I don’t have a terrible chest – it’s just kind of flat and not very well defined. I do all the usual exercises – bench presses, incline presses, flyes, etc – but it never seems to make a huge difference. So I wondered what your secrets were? I’d love to have big, muscular pecs.
Should I train chest more than once a week (I do traditional split sets at the moment, four days a week) – perhaps even doing some chest work each day? Are there any special exercises I should be trying? Is it my shoulders and arms that are letting me down?
I’d love to know your thoughts Alfonso!
Hey Mike, how are you?
You have quite a common issue and I’m not totally sure it’s your training that needs correction. You didn’t specify what rep range you work in, but for the most muscle growth science has shown us the 8 – 12 rep range works best. You should be performing 3 – 4 exercises, and 3 work sets for each. “Work sets” means that you lift till failure and don’t stop at a certain number just because you reached a 10th or 12th rep.
I used to use mostly dumbbell exercises when training my chest as the straight bar bench inhibits your range of motion. Dumbbell flats, low incline presses and cable flyes in various positions were part of my chest days. I also used dumbbell pullovers to hit a little muscle called the pec minor and would finish with weighted dips for a last hurrah. I think the dips really made a difference and are very similar to decline presses so give them a try.
One problem you may have is improper form. A lot of people perform most of their chest movements in a manner that works their shoulders and triceps more than their chest. This is due to not keeping your shoulders back or retracted during the movements, which effectively disengages the pecs. Your shoulders have to stay down and back and should not roll up of the bench at all. Try imagining that you need to squeeze a pencil between your shoulder blades when working all chest movements, that’ll allow the chest to function as it should.
But Mike, I’m sure your chest is not lagging behind as badly as you think. We tend to judge ourselves harder and see things most people don’t, or care about. Even if your form is perfect, it’s possible that genetically you just have a weaker appearing chest. I’ve seen many guys with varying lagging body parts, that no matter how hard they trained them they never grew as their other muscles had. Look at pro bodybuilders – each and every one has a body part that isn’t up to par. You said you’ve got good arms and a flat belly right? I’m sure there’s a guy in your gym with a huge chest, a gut and weak arms – see my point?
I would try using better form, and working in the right rep range to start. I wouldn’t try working out every day, or hitting your chest hard more than once a week. If you want, you can try a second, lighter and slowly performed chest workout later in the week, but not too close to the next chest day or it’ll suffer. Also, keep in mind that when you lose body fat all your muscles will appear defined and stout. I’m not suggesting you need to lose weight, but if you’re a couple of lbs. over your ideal, the fat loss will make a huge difference visually. Let me know how it all turns out!
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