Having a big chest is an impressive part of a good physique which is why Mondays are unofficially International Bench Day at gyms across the world.
A big chest is not needed for any sports so you will see many muscular athletes with small chests. However, a big chest is aesthetically pleasing so you will see all good bodybuilders and physique’s have a good sized chest. A big chest is a sign of power and strength. The ladies love it too!
When trying to build up a certain muscle group, the goal is to put the most amount of strain on the muscle for as long as possible. Heavy weight is great for building dense, strong muscles but for size alone moderate weight is best. To build a big chest you will concentrate on reps in the 5-12 range and instead of lifting the heaviest weight possible we will use a weight we know we can handle and we concentrate on the burn and the pump that that exercise and weight give us.
The Bench Press is the most well known chest exercise. Benching is great but I do not feel it is the best chest exercise for most people. To build a big chest you want all the pressure on the chest, benching will put pressure on the chest, triceps, and front deltoids. Many people report not “feeling” it in their chest when they bench. To feel it in your chest you must use a wide grip, as wide as possible, for maximum effectiveness.
Best Chest Exercises:
Wide Grip Bench Press to the Neck: This is an exercise developed and championed by the late Vince Gironda. I feel that this is the best chest builder on the planet. It is preferable to do this exercise on a Smith Machine instead of a free weight flat bench. The reason is that you will be using a very wide grip, wider than most benches will allow, and you will be taking the bar to your neck instead of to your chest. Lie flat on a bench and place your feet up in the air, bending at the knees. Doing so will take all stability from your feet and make your chest muscles work that much harder. Grab the bar with a thumbless grip and take down to the neck and back up again. It is not necessary to perform a full range of motion on this exercise. What is imperative is to always bring it down to the neck but you do not need to press to lockout, stop short of lockout to keep constant pressure on the chest muscles. I went from not having a chest at all to doing this exercise for a month and developing a chest.
Flat Bench Flye’s and Incline Bench Flye’s: Do this exercise with a twist. Most “experts” recommend not bring the dumbbells down too far so as to not hurt your shoulders. To get the most out of these we have to perform the best way, the way Arnold Schwarzenegger performed them. Lie down on a flat bench and grab a couple of moderate weight dumbbells, hold them up straight in the air, with a slight bend at the elbows bring the dumbbells down to your sides going as low as you can – almost touching the ground, and bring them back up again in a hugging motion (imagine hugging a big bear), and stop the dumbbells about 6-10 inches from each other and start the exercise over. We stop at the top to keep constant tension on the pecs, when you bring the dumbbells together it takes tension off of the pecs.
Incline Barbell Bench Press & Incline Dumbbell Bench Press:
To perform the Incline Barbell Press, go to an incline bench, use moderate weight, using a wide grip take the barbell down to the bottom of your neck/top of chest and bring back up again.
To perform the Incline Dumbbell press grab a couple of moderate weight dumbbells and with palms facing away from you press the dumbbells up, while pressing turn the dumbbells so all four bells are facing each other and touch the bells together at the top of the movement.
A routine consisting of those exercises will build a nice, big barrel chest.
Some Exercises to Try:
Not every exercise works for every person. You will need to try out a few exercises to see what works best for you. Here are a couple to try:
Dips: Using parallel bars extend yourself with your arms, feet in the air, lower yourself as low as you can comfortably go and bring yourself back up by extending your arms. Play with the position of your body to find the most tension in the chest.
Dumbbell Pullovers: A lot of old school guys loved to do pullovers, they believed that it would widen the rib cage making the chest that much bigger. Science says that is impossible, but looking at a chest like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s or Serge Nubret’s one can’t help but wonder how much science really knows.
Decline Bench Press: This is widely regarded as a useless exercise on internet forums country wide but it was a favorite of 6 time Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates. He feels that the decline bench press takes stress off of the shoulders and places it directly on the chest. Another bonus is that you can use more weight on a decline press than on a flat bench or incline bench.
To build a nice big chest we will concentrate on volume.
Train chest at minimum twice per week, if you feel you have excellent recovery you can move it up to three times per week.
Always train chest on the same days, for example Monday and Thursday.
The weight we use is secondary to “feeling the burn” in the chest, but don’t use baby weight.
Concentrate on getting 8-12 quality reps per set and do upwards of 5-8 sets per exercise and 3-6 exercises per session.
Use anywhere from 20-35 sets per session. Always try to finish the workout within 45 minutes, we want the blood constantly in the muscles bringing them vital nutrients and making them bigger and stronger.
A good rule of thumb is to stop when the pump starts going away. Eventually you will get to a point where you know the pump will go away if you do one more set.
Play with the routine and exercises to determine the order that you like, but always do your hardest and heaviest exercises first.
Enjoy your big-ass rock hard chest.