Have you ever seen those soft, bloated wannabes who bench as heavy as they can possibly go, forcing themselves to bounce the bar up with every rep, arch their backs, round their shoulders forward, getting a spot (or two), then high fiving anyone within striking distance? This embarrassment passes for serious training in most gyms today.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling beginners idiots. God knows when I started, I had my moments. No, idiots are those guys who look like crap, eat like crap, and train like crap, even after many years of working the weights. They haven't learned a thing, and keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. These guys have a dynamite mentality. What's in store for them is stalled development and injuries.
Focus On The Targest Muscle
In bodybuilding, when you train a bodypart, you need to focus as much stress as possible on the target muscle. So when you are training chest, your target muscle is what? That's right, your chest. Anything that takes stress away from that muscle group is not helping you reach your goals. So when Mr. Dynamite is bouncing the bar and heaving the weight up with his entire body, he may have 385 loaded up, but a lot less than that is actually working his pecs.
Consider the experienced pro who's doing the same bench press. He may use only 315 pounds. But watch as he performs the exercise: his body is motionless, his shoulders are back, and his chest is up. There's no exaggerated arch, just a controlled, focused movement. While there is less weight in his hands, the pro's slow, deliberate technique puts most of the stress squarely on his chest. This is Mr. Laser. He's pinpointing the movement on to his target muscles. In short, he's training the pecs with more weight than Mr. Dynamite.
So your decision is simple. Do you want to "look" like you're training big, or do you flat out want to be big? Yeah, I thought so. Getting back to the chest, let me give you a couple of more tips to get you on the road to a massive chest. Basically, there are only two basic movements, which will effectively work the pecs: presses and flyes. If you're waiting for me to give you a full routine, and tell you how many sets and reps to do, get lost. Real training is not about what you do, but how you do it. It's about dedication and drive.
Presses - View Exercises
Whether you do incline presses, decline presses, flat bench presses, dips, pushups, or whatever, the rules are the same. For any pressing movement to emphasize the pecs, it's important to perform the movement with the shoulders pulled back, not rounded forward. Why? As soon as your shoulders round forward, you are placing the majority of the stress on the front delts. This might enable you to lift more weight, but we are not training delts.
So keep the shoulders back. Along the same lines, keep your chest up and out. As soon as your chest sinks, front delts are in, pecs are out.
Keep your elbows straight out to your side, and don't let them sink to your sides. As soon as your elbows drift to your side, the press becomes a tricep and delt exercise. Many big benchers and powerlifters have thick arms and delts, but not a lot of pec. While this style is great for moving weight, it's not so great for building pecs. Your pecs attach to your upper arm, so when your arms are at your side, it is impossible for your pecs to get a complete contraction.
Flyes - View Exercises
Again, the basic rules are the same for dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers, etc. Just as you wouldn't bounce the bar up in a press, don't throw the flyes up at high speed. Perform the exercise with proper form and feel the contraction in your chest.
Now what about that exercise where you do cable flyes from the bottom pulley, pulling upward? Let me tell you, there is absolutely no way this is a chest exercise.
I can hear it now: "Well if I flex my chest at the top, I get a great pump..." Oh yeah, that'll work. If you believe that crap, then get on a leg extension machine and use it in the usual fashion, but at the top of each rep, flex your pecs as hard as possible. Your chest will be sore tomorrow. Because of that, we'll call this exercise a chest exercise. Give me a break. Utterly moronic.
With very minor variations, the preceding guidelines should apply to all chest movements. The key to making progress is to keep thing as simple as you can. Stick with basic movements. Use strict form. Forget the dynamite and stick with the laser. Whether it's your chest or any other bodypart, you'll see some real results.