No matter what gym you go, I can almost guarantee that there is someone at any given time performing bench presses. These people load up the bar with so much weight that they have to arch their back and bounce the bar off their chest every time they perform "reps", which is probably only a couple sets of 3-5.
These are usually also the type of people that have unrealistic goals, have horrible nutrition, get very little sleep and think that only taking supplements will make them huge.
Assuming that my audience consists of eager beginners that are new to the sport, I will teach you how to effectively train the chest into growth and avoid becoming one of these bench press gurus. Read on!
Anatomy Of The Chest
The chest is made up of two large and powerful muscles called pectorals, that spread over the front of the upper body like plates of armor. The pectorals can be broken into two separate regions, the sterna (lower) and the clavicle (upper).
The pectorals are connected to the collarbone and cartilage of the ribs. The main function of the pectorals is to draw and press the arm across the front of the body.
There are two basic types of exercises for the chest:
PRESSES - in which the arms are extended away in front of the body in a pushing motion.
FLY'S - in which the bent arms (to take stress off the elbows) are drawn across the front of the body in a hugging motion
Presses require primary effort from the pectorals, but also depend on the anterior deltoid and triceps.
Fly's almost completely isolate the pectorals. By positioning the angle of the bench you perform exercises on, you can shift the stress onto different regions of the muscle.
An incline bench position tends to put more stress on the upper chest, and a decline position on the lower chest.
Complete Chest Development
In order to have a well balanced chest, you must train it all, all different angles, from incline-flat-decline. Many teens find that their upper chest is generally lagging compared to their lower.
To solve this problem, make sure to include incline exercises right from the beginning. I also find it completely necessary to include fly's in addition to presses, because it can be hard to isolate the pec's with a routine composed of only presses.
Here are some of the best mass building exercises for the chest:
I recommend performing 12-15 sets for the chest in the form of 3-5 exercises, 2 of which are in the incline position to avoid lagging. My personal chest routine looks like this:
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Flat Bench Cable Flyes
- Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
This routine may not suit you, but I find that it provides complete chest development; upper and lower, as well as inner and outer.