Caution! You may find your pecs getting huge, full, developed and striated to the max! Don't worry, this is a normal side effect of intensely performing these pectoral training techniques and exercises.
The large, beautiful fan-like muscle complex built on top of your deep rib box, the pectorals, must be equally thick over the entire slab-like area to achieve the big titles in todays contests.
Far to often, the pecs fall victim to uneven development caused by only doing flat bench presses. Back in bodybuilding's dark ages this was considered more than plenty to develop the pecs, but that just won't do today. Mere bench pressing over time will develop pecs with thick outer edges, but shallow inner and upper sections. Don't get me wrong, flat bench is essential... but, not all inclusive. If this boat carries you aboard, two things: first, you're in the boat with the most people; second, get ready to jump ship!
The exercises and training techniques found here will help you build those tough, often lagging pecs into the full, round, even and thick pairs of striated, muscular squares with rounded corners that you yearn for! The pecs can fall behind quick if they aren't trained with the right exercises at high intensity. But, it's also possible for your pecs to grow too large if you train them too much. Too large? Yeah, too large. The goal with bodybuilding is symmetry and balance. You technically don't want any muscle group to be out of proportion in size compared to the surrounding muscle groups. In the pecs case: delts, lats, traps, and arms. More often than not though, the pecs are the group lagging, as you well know they can be difficult to build.
Building The Inner Pecs
Don't worry if your pecs aren't as full as you'd like, as many of you already know, the pectorals are often the slowest muscles to grow and can be very difficult to fully develop-especially if you're fairly new to bodybuilding. Even after developing good form on flyes and bench press, you may still find it difficult to build your inner pecs, even though your outer pecs are growing great. This is a troublesome area for everyone to develop. Help is here! To get the full, rounded mass you want in the entire pectoral region, you've got to perform the right exercises at the right intensity and focus intensely on that area.
What exercises work the best?
Close-Grip Bench Press
I know what you're thinking... close-grip bench works the triceps, right? Well, yes... but if you concentrate on very strict, slow lifting and squeeze the pecs together at the top of the extension, you'll notice it really hits your inner pecs. Really concentrate on the pecs! Try to relax your arms as much as possible, letting the pecs take the brunt of the weight. Really squeeze them at the top to get the most burn for your rep! Just so you know, you will want to drop the weight down a little from what you do your normal benching on so as to get the form down and really focus on the pecs. Once you build up this area of the pecs, you will definitely go up in overall bench press.
- How to grip the bar: Your hands should be in the range of shoulder width. See what works best for you. You may find that a few inches in from shoulder width hits the inner pecs hardest. So experiment a little with the grip to find what allows you to get the most work and stress carried by your pecs.
- How to do the movement: Bring the weight down to your chest slowly at the count of 1... 2... breathing in on the way down. Barely touch your chest before pushing the weight back up while exhaling to the same count of 1... 2... Focus entirely on letting your pecs do the work. Hold it at the top for a count of 1... 2... while squeezing your pecs together. Then lower the weight back down to the same count while you inhale. Make sure this is all in one fluid, strict motion (no bouncing!).
- Sets: This is somewhat of a dispute. First of all, get your form down with lighter weight. Then, use a weight that you can get only 6-10 reps on for 3+ sets for definition and mass. For more definition, reduce the weight and go for 12-15 reps and 5+ sets. For more mass, go for 5-6 reps and heavier weight for less sets. Just remember to get your form down good and always lift slowly and strictly to get the most gains, develop the fullest pecs, and avoid ripping or tearing muscles.
- Note: To get full pectoral development, it's good to add incline and decline close-grip bench into your chest day routine. This will build and work the upper and lower mid parts of the pectorals, respectively. Use the same method as with regular flat bench close-grip bench. Build massive and full pecs!!!
Use the universal fly machine for this exercise. It works extremely well for hitting the pecs. The key to working and building the inner pecs with this exercise lies in your mind. Make your pecs squeeze together at completion of the movement and really flex them at the point where your arms are brought together. Do this movement slowly and strictly. Inhale as you slowly allow the weight to fall back on the stack, widening your arms. Use a fluid motion and exhale as your pecs force the weight up and your arms back together. This can be murder on your pecs... just what you want!
- Sets, Breathing, and Lifting: Use similar breathing and lifting patterns as with close-grip bench. Do the sets similarly as well, although with flyes, it's recommended to do more sets that usual to really rip your pecs a new one.
These intense pectoral isolators are especially known for etching deep striations into the pecs. Stress is placed on the entire pectorals especially the inner, lower and outer pecs, not to mention secondarily working the anterior deltoids.
- How to do the movement: With your feet shoulder width apart, grasp the handles attached to the pulleys so that your palms face towards the floor with your arms slightly bent. Your arms should be extended diagonally upward. Bring your torso a bit forward to maximize the stress on your pectorals and hold this position for the duration of the set. Exhale as you force your hands down and together, primarily using pectoral strength to bring them to a position about six inches in front of your hips. Make sure the movement is strict, slow and in a semicircular arc. At the finishing position, try to hold it for about 5 seconds as if doing a "most muscular" pose, flexing your pecs intensely. Slowly allow the weight to lower back down and your arms to raise back up to the starting position. You can also perform this exercise kneeling on the floor or with one arm at a time to increase the concentration.
Building The Lower-Outer Pecs
The outer pectoral area usually doesn't need too much help if decline barbell and/or dumbbell bench presses are a part of your routine. The lower and outer pecs form the foundation of your pectoral size. Getting that line along the bottom of the pecs requires doing the right exercises at high intensity over time. Kick butt!
What Exercises Work the Best?
Any Kind of Decline Presses (Barbell, Dumbbell, & Machine)
These are awesome for hitting the lower and outer regions of the pecs! Just perform them like you would regular flat bench with slow, strict reps and good form.
Parallel Bar Dips
Dips are a favorite of bodybuilders for there high intensity and isolation they place on the pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoids. The lower and outer portions of the pectoral muscle complex will really grow with these.
- How to do them: Hold the bars so that your palms face inward and your arms are nearly straight. Slowly lower your body as far as it is comfortable. Without bouncing, slowly raise yourself back almost all of the way up, keeping direct stress on the pecs continuously throughout the set. You can dangle weight from your waist with a rope or chain to add resistance.
Dumbbell/Cable Decline Flyes, Cable Crossovers
Do Decline Dumbbell Flyes the same as you would do regular Dumbbell Flyes, except do them on a decline bench. Adjust the angle of the bench to work the lower-outer pecs from a variety of angles.
Building The Upper Pecs
The upper pecs just may be your nemesis. Besides inner pecs, they just may be the toughest area to build. However, if you're doing lots of incline press, you'll build them up in no time!
What Exercises Work the Best?
Any Kind of Incline Presses (Barbell, Dumbbell, & Machine)
These are perfect for hitting the upper region of the pecs! Just perform them like you would regular flat bench with slow, strict reps and good form.
All of the variations of incline press place intense stress on the upper pecs, primarily; then on the anterior deltoids and triceps. This is probably the best possible movement to build the pec-delt tie-ins. This highly prized and valued area of the arm has become a definite necessity in today's competitions.
Secondary stress is placed on the rest of the pecs, the medial deltoids, and the upper back muscles.
Dumbbell/Cable Incline Flyes
Do these just like regular cable and dumbbell flyes, except on an incline bench. Hit that upper pectoral region hard and focus to build the rounded tops of those giant pecs.
Building The Pecs (In General)
There are literally tons of exercises you can do to generally build up the entire pectoral muscle complex. Here is a listing of some good ones to check out.
What Exercises Work the Best?
If you do all of these exercises, not only will your pecs get very big, but they'll also get very burned!
- Bench Presses
- Narrow-Grip Bench Presses
- Barbell Incline Presses
- Barbell Decline Presses
- Pullovers and Presses
- Universal Bench Presses
- Nautilus Bench Presses
- Dumbbell Bench Presses
- Dumbbell Incline Presses
- Dumbbell Decline Presses
- Flat-Bench Flyes
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes
- Decline Dumbbell Flyes
- Stiff-Arm Dumbbell Flyes
- Pec Deck Flyes
- Nautilus Flyes
- Cable Flyes
- Parallel Bar Dips
- Stiff-Arm Pullovers
- Bent-Arm Pullovers
- Nautilus Pullovers
- Stiff-Arm Pull downs
- Cable Crossovers
- Low-Pulley Crossovers
- Push-Ups Between Benches
- Wide-Arm Push-Ups