You can't consider yourself a seriously-buff dude if your upper body exists in only two dimensions. You need to add some depth to that torso, and Brandon White knows just how to do it.
Take these three tips and plug them directly into the workout you're doing now, or even better, use them in Bodybuilding.com and MuscleTech's upcoming Buff Dudes and the Journey for the Goblet of Gains 9-week Training Program, which the brothers discussed recently on the Bodybuilding.com podcast.
Tip 1: Pack the Back to Focus on the Front
Many muscle groups are involved in the pressing motion—pecs, triceps, and anterior delts most prominently—so if you want to build a bigger chest, you have to do what you can to make sure that particular muscle group is doing as much of the work as possible.
Many lifters try to remedy this by putting their feet up on the bench, but there's an easier way that allows you to move more weight. It's as simple as pulling the shoulders back—way back—and arching the chest up nice and high.
"When I say isolate, I'm not meaning this is an isolation exercise," Brandon says.
After all, the bench press is about as compound as they come, right?
Instead, he says, "You're going to help work and concentrate on that chest by pulling those shoulders back and keeping them nice and tight—that way the chest is going to do most of the work."
When your shoulders roll forward, the anterior delts take over. This means the chest deactivates and doesn't get the full benefit of the exercise. Yes, this sounds easy, but be warned: You really have to concentrate throughout the range of motion to isolate the chest. If you don't, all the pressing in the world won't help you build your chest.
Coincidentally, this cue will also help you move the most weight on the bench, and also make it as shoulder friendly as possible. You're welcome.
Tip 2: Stop Clinking Those Dumbbells!
Buff lifters around the world know that time under tension is one of the singular keys for muscle growth. Plenty of wannabe-buff lifters know it too, but struggle to actually put it into practice. Here's how to make it work for your chest.
Brandon demonstrates how to use time under tension while performing the incline dumbbell chest fly, pausing just before his arms reach the top.
As he explains, "when you reach the top, it's actually going to deactivate the muscle because there's not really any tension on the muscle itself anymore because it's not going through any kind of motion or contraction."
In other words, it's a mini rest period that you haven't earned yet.
Pausing just before the muscle stops working at the top of the exercise maintains that constant tension you need to grow those pecs. That may not sound like a major change, but it is. To see just how different it is, do a set where you go all the way to 100 percent contraction, and another where you stop at 85-90 percent. Even though the latter is a shorter ROM, it should feel far more difficult.
Time under tension can be boosted in any chest exercise, including the bench press.
"When you complete the range of motion and lock out, the chest doesn't have any tension on it because everything is locked out," explains Brandon. "Once you start bending your elbows, immediately the chest has to activate to control the weight."
By keeping the primary muscle group active, you take full advantage of every exercise and stimulate your chest to get bigger, faster.
Tip 3: Make Your Triceps a Higher Priority
There's a reason why chest and triceps are so commonly trained together in training splits. If you really want to build your front, the backs of your arms will have plenty to say about how hard you can push it.
"In any kind of pressing motion, the triceps are going to be a pretty big secondary muscle group. If you're hitting that bench press pretty hard, and you're trying to go up in weight, building that strength, and you hit a plateau—it might not be your chest—it might be your triceps."
His solution for bigger chest gains? Don't forget to work your triceps. Every bit of size and strength you add there will pay off big-time. So even if you're already training arms elsewhere in the week, don't be afraid to add extra work, or even an extra session, focusing on moves like these:
- Rope extension
- Close-grip bench
- Triceps dip (body upright, elbows tight to body)
- French press
Need more ideas? The Buff Dudes even created a video about five forgotten triceps exercises that will help you overload those horseshoes. That way, they won't hold you back from building that double-barreled Buff Dudes-sized chest.