T Nation

Chest Training

I’d consider my chest one of my biggest weakpoints. Has anyone tried doing 2 chest days a week. I can’t do barbell bench because it hurts my elbows, so I’ve been doing:

Pec deck
Incline (dumbbell)
Flat (dumbbell)
Decline (dumbbell)
High/Low Cable Flyes
Hammer Strength Incline

Anyone tried splitting up chest day? My forearms give out way before my chest does (I’ve got small forearms/wrists). Thinking splitting the work up may help me push more weight each week and help my lagging chest catch up.

I’ll try to give you some feedback. Personally, my chest has always been a standout part. But since you want to know about splitting it up, try PHAT, or something along those lines. Essentially one heavy day all about moving the weight and getting stronger week to week, and a second day geared towards bodybuilding pump type work. Focus on feeling the muscle.

This routine is for every body part, but you could adapt it for your needs. Another option is just to have dedicated chest day(s) but throw a little something at the end of your other workouts. By that I don’t mean maxing out on bench or anything, just lighter movements to get some blood in there and increase your weekly volume. So flys or pec deck or cable crossovers. Even a few sets of pushups.

Your body has a hard time building chest, so you need to give it a not so subtle hint. Don’t pussyfoot around with it.

As for bench hurting elbows, warm up more and/or adjust your form. Wider grip high reps like the guy in my avi, or surge nubret would do allows me to really feel it in my chest. Try some things for your self.

Make sure you chest is doing the work. Play with rom and squeezing your chest until every exercise makes your ches explode. It’s the only way mine has grown.

if you add another chest day, might be a good idea to add some shoulder health stuff at the end of your workouts. Things like prone trap raises, face pulls etc.

Focussing too much on chest has caused many a shoulder injury

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Make sure you chest is doing the work. Play with rom and squeezing your chest until every exercise makes your ches explode. It’s the only way mine has grown. [/quote]

I completely agree with this. I had to change my way of lifting as my background stems from more powerlifting. I had to eat my pride and lighten my weight and really focus on the rom and making sure you are getting full pectoral contraction. Has made a world of difference.

People often see me using smaller dumbbells than them for flys even though I outweigh them by a large margin. I have had many ask me if I was coming off an injury. Nope! I just feel it better with the lighter weight and can get a good full contraction on every rep. Not to mention my form is far better too.

[quote]Bauber wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Make sure you chest is doing the work. Play with rom and squeezing your chest until every exercise makes your ches explode. It’s the only way mine has grown. [/quote]

I completely agree with this. I had to change my way of lifting as my background stems from more powerlifting. I had to eat my pride and lighten my weight and really focus on the rom and making sure you are getting full pectoral contraction. Has made a world of difference.

People often see me using smaller dumbbells than them for flys even though I outweigh them by a large margin. I have had many ask me if I was coming off an injury. Nope! I just feel it better with the lighter weight and can get a good full contraction on every rep. Not to mention my form is far better too.[/quote]

Definitely. Once I stopped fully stretching the bottom ROM, my shoulders started to love me and my pecs got hit a lot harder. Finding that “sweet spot” in your ROM is key. I don’t care that I have to use 80 lb DB’s, I am getting a better chest workout than if I was using the 120’s. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride, unless there are cute girls watching.

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:

[quote]Bauber wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Make sure you chest is doing the work. Play with rom and squeezing your chest until every exercise makes your ches explode. It’s the only way mine has grown. [/quote]

I completely agree with this. I had to change my way of lifting as my background stems from more powerlifting. I had to eat my pride and lighten my weight and really focus on the rom and making sure you are getting full pectoral contraction. Has made a world of difference.

People often see me using smaller dumbbells than them for flys even though I outweigh them by a large margin. I have had many ask me if I was coming off an injury. Nope! I just feel it better with the lighter weight and can get a good full contraction on every rep. Not to mention my form is far better too.[/quote]

Definitely. Once I stopped fully stretching the bottom ROM, my shoulders started to love me and my pecs got hit a lot harder. Finding that “sweet spot” in your ROM is key. I don’t care that I have to use 80 lb DB’s, I am getting a better chest workout than if I was using the 120’s. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride, unless there are cute girls watching. [/quote]

Naturally if cure girls are in the vicinity you have to grab the heaviest weight near you and lift it!

Very true about that sweet spot. It takes trial and error. I happened to get with an older fellow who really showed me the ropes in with regards to training more geared towards bodybuilding. I remember Charles Glass saying when he first got with Phil Heath; Phil was having trouble getting his back up to par because his arms were so dominant. Charles Glass cut his back weights IN HALF and he almost instantly began to grow in his back.

When Im bring up my chest, i hit it alone early in the week, later on after shoulders (presuming you work them out 2-3 days later), ill do a heavy compound exercise followed by high-rep supersets.

Doing a heavy day and a fly/pump day is an interesting thought. Thanks for all of the tips so far.

I tore my pec twice, maybe the best thing that ever happened to my chest development as strange as that sounds. Had to relearn how to work it.

Most of the time I use some fly movement as my warm up and to an extent pre exhaust. 1-3 sets of 15-20 reps, always light, always stretching and a good squeeze. I do it to get a bit of a pump, not to really hammer it.

Make sure you are getting a good and deep stretch at the bottom of the movement on dumbell work, I usually do pause reps for this, 1 second at the bottom and let it stretch.

Bench press dead last if you are going to at all, and do pause reps and not to full lockout.

Used to hit it 2x a week, now i hit it about ever 5-6 days.
And like others have said, work the chest, not move the weights. I see alot of guys who focus so much on how much they bench/db press etc, and they usually have the worst chests, but great shoulders/tris.

[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:
Essentially one heavy day all about moving the weight and getting stronger week to week
[/quote]

…what?

Op, try DB floor press

I’m actually hitting chest (along with delts and triceps) 3x a week now, as they suck. To early to see how it works out, but have gotten a lot of comments on my progress pics and IRL on chest and delts looking bigger and fuller.

Ohh and Walkway, I’m considering trying the DB Floor Press, seems like it would be perfect for my build.

My body does not like benching. I had avoided, even denounced, barbell benching for YEARS as it always aggravated my joints and really you are selling yourself short. You appear to be an arm dominant lifter also and doing all your presses with DBs wont help. The angle of your hands and more importantly your elbows relative your body have more freedom with the DBs and will fall into wherever you are most comfortable.

I would readily max out the DBs at the various gyms I’ve attended while barely being able to handle an equivalent weight on the bar, because my triceps and shoulders would do all the work. I’ve been really working at it for less than a year now and Ive almost cleared 315 starting from a paltry 225

Some tips for benching:

Learn the form, and by this I mean learn how to externally rotate and flare out your lats in order to brace your humerus a bit during the eccentric portion. This takes a huge amount of stress off your joints and lets your hold a bit more tension to come back up with. I can tell whether I am going to make my lift by the time the bar is halfway down, and if I dont, its my bicep insertion at my elbow that takes the hit. Or my shoulder.

Leg drive is key, your butt is on the bench, but only as a formality; your weight is on your feet. Walk your feet back as far under your hips as you can while still keeping your heels down, and push out with them as the bar comes up, but also as you let the bar come DOWN. Imagine what happens when people lift the butt up when they struggle.

People do this all the time, they dont know it, but what they are trying to do is put as much force into the contact point where their upper back meets the bench as possible by throwing their bodyweight up. The bench in turn provides a greater normal force which is applied to the bar. Do this, but without lifting your butt up by pushing the floor out with your feet.

Once the bar gets low enough, if your arms are long or you dont have a big arch to your back, your shoulders will go into internal rotation, you may want to stop short of this until you can handle it or set yourself up in a power rack with some rails for backup a little above this point.

Try a suicide grip. I used to tell people we have opposible thumbs for a reason, but sometimes its hard to press off the heel of your hand with your thumb wrapped around the bar. Also, you can ever so slightly turn your hands inward to help with that external rotation. I only press bench with this grip now.

Reverse band presses are amazing. If you have access to thicker bands and a power cage, try these, they really alleviate alot of joint stress while allowing you to use big weights.

The aforementioned DB floor presses are a great recovery move, and I’m unsure why. I used to have big subacrimonal bursitis and these knocked it out somehow. I suspect sorcery. Or a forced scapular positioning.

Your forearms look kinda small, if you use straps to pull with, stop doing that, you need strong wrists.

Also unless you played football or some other sport, you may, like most people lack upper body power. Pin presses from the bottom position may not be joint friendly but they do build power. Bonus points for going against bands on these. Also plyo pushups help, and will surely toughen up your wrists.

Now all that being said you may have to accept the fact that benching may not be the best chest hypertrophy move for you. I used to believe this about myself but I feel like my chest really did take off after I got my bench numbers up, but the jury is still out. Regardless you should do it anyway IMO, but here are some general tips for chest hypertrophy:

Flys

I mean really, other than pushes there isnt much else but flys can do some damage. I have always wanted to try DB flys with chains because band tension doesnt sound good for these but I havent had the chance yet. Also:

Stretching against a pump

Tear up the fascia while alot of blood is crammed in there. This has worked well for me in stubborn areas like chest, rectus abs, and most notably CALVES. This can also help build seperation in certain muscles: get a pump going, then grab some cables set high and wide and push your torso forward all spread eagle against them. Make sure to externally rotate, or rather just don’t internally rotate or its a waste of time.

Try these, I’ve dubbed them 99’s

Take 3 different pairs of dumbells in maybe ten lb increments. Do 25 partial presses real fast followed by 8 DEEP flys, then do it again for the next weight with no rest, and then for the last. Thats one set, try for 3. Again the idea is to pump alot of blood into the area then stretch it. I like doing these on incline for that clavicular swole that busts out the wife-beater you wear on chest day.

Good luck

Awesome post, c.m.l. I really appreciate it.

I like many of the suggestions in here. Something I would consider adding, and I know how this is going to sound, would be timed stretching. It’s a big component of the DC training philosophy and I really felt like it helped my chest growth and overall flexibility/joint health. What you do is perform your chest routine and, preferably after your “pump” exercise at the end of the workout (so that your chest if filled with blood), you grab some dumbbells (about 50-60% of what you would use for DB bench) and get into the bottom position of a DB fly.

Now, form is key here. I would really pinch my shoulder blades together whilst keeping a bit of an arch in my lower back to really drive the dumbbells as deep down as they would go. While doing all of this, take in a deep breath and try and puff your chest out as much as possible. Hold this position for as long as you can, shooting for around a minute and a half to two minutes (no cheating-nice, slow counting). Eventually, once you can hit three minutes with that weight, up the weight about five pounds. Works wonders.

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:
Essentially one heavy day all about moving the weight and getting stronger week to week
[/quote]

…what?
[/quote]

?? Is that not what the focus is on the power days?

" The purpose of these workouts is to move maximum weight! Save short rest periods for your hypertrophy days. On your power days you need to have a POWER mentality. Move the heavy ass weight at all costs!"

Just realized that c.m.l posted something similar to what I wrote. Whoops.

[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:
Essentially one heavy day all about moving the weight and getting stronger week to week
[/quote]

…what?
[/quote]

?? Is that not what the focus is on the power days?

" The purpose of these workouts is to move maximum weight! Save short rest periods for your hypertrophy days. On your power days you need to have a POWER mentality. Move the heavy ass weight at all costs!"[/quote]

can you not see how incredibly retarded that is?

“move heavy ass weight at all costs”… please tell me you can see…

[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:

?? Is that not what the focus is on the power days?

" The purpose of these workouts is to move maximum weight! Save short rest periods for your hypertrophy days. On your power days you need to have a POWER mentality. Move the heavy ass weight at all costs!"[/quote]

Nope. Power is about SPEED. Never an “at all costs” endeavor if you want longevity in the iron game to be on your side.

I know what you guys are getting at. I don’t think he literally means form doesn’t matter, jist point A and B. I think he was exaggerating a bit to get the point across. The upper and lower power days are simply more about getting stronger. He wants a certain mentality. And i don’t think he is using the word power in its literal meaning either. He came to the conclusion that he’s never seen a guy squat or deadlift 5-600 pounds and be tiny, so he endeavored to do that.

Obviously the light(er) non load focused stuff like JMs training works, which is why Layne comes back later I’m the week for that type of focus. The program isn’t a either or. It’s both.