T Nation

Help me find my chest

I need some help developing my chest.I need to add muscle to my chest. I want to know what workouts or excercises you guys have used to grow a bigger and better sculpted chest.Typical workout: 4 sets incline(barbell), 4 sets decline(barbell), 2 sets flat bench(dumbell) and 3 sets flys. I am about 190lbs around 14%bf. My flat bench is 285x3, incline is 225x4. I started doing decline about 4 months ago and I do feel it has made some difference. What type of diet would be best for my situation? I am sick and tired of being ashamed of my chest. Thanks

polarman, i had the same problem. To get your bench up, search for the article “from russia with love”. What I did for my chest is this: pay more attention to tempo. use a 311(3 seconds down,1 second hold at bottom, 1 second to raise the bar) Also, do less sets. for me, 4 sets of 5 on the incline barbell,2 sets of 7 on the incline dumbell(twist the dumbells at the top so your palms meet)and 2 sets of 8 dips. You don’t need a lot of sets, just really fuck your chest up good and you’re all set, you don’t need more than 8 sets, unless it’s a shock routine.

You are about to find out that the advice given to a question like this can come in all forms. Is there a wrong answer to the question? Well, yes if someone writes in that toe raises work your upper pecs with maximum intensity. Here is the deal, your success in bodybuilding relies very much on genetics, which means that someone may not be able to build large calves(like me) but may have biceps much bigger than average. You deal with what you have. More specifically though, I feel that the flat bench is a little over rated. I know I responded to another question about moving to the Smith machine, however, that had more to do with an intent to erase the fear of lifting heavier from that guy’s mind. With a spot, the most I ever bench was 405 for one really good time and one with “help”. I haven’t benched in two years. Since then I have been doing dumbbell presses and have been growing and getting stronger because of it. My opinion, is that due to you having to balance the weight as well as press it, you are causing much more stress. Most recently, I have gone against my original plan to not work a muscle more than once a week and have begun training upper chest on a day by itself and lower chest also on a separate day. My upper chest has really responded so I may keep it up. Here is a generic concept, gradually increase the weight, no matter what exercise or body part you are working. Make sure that you are eating enough to support growth in the first place(what good is it to leave your lungs on the floor after benching the hell out of your chest if you only ate twice that day?), and rest enough in between sets. You wrote that you do 4 sets of declines and 4 sets of incline. Why four? Here’s a better question, why the hell are you doing declines? Your lower chest is worked by doing flat bench, so why the extra “low” work? The reason the weight seems a little lighter is because your lats are coming into play. Is this chest day or back day? I don’t see the benefit. I also don’t see much effect from flyes unless you are doing them strictly to stretch the muscle a little at the end of a workout. I usually stick to incline/ flat dumbbell presses/ Hammer Strength Wide Grip/ and the butter fly machine in the back of the gym. What else could you possibly need if you are lifting with enough intensity and keeping your reps fairly low until right before falure?
Professor X

Polarman,
One thing you should be sure to emphasize in all chest exercises, especially any benching movement (regardless of bench angle, or whether you’re using barbell or dumbells), is that you set up your “chest girdle” correctly so that you are maximizing the involement of the pecs. (Powerlifters wouldn’t do it this way, since their goal is just to raise the maximum amount of weight, rather than to focus on using any one particular muscle group to do so).

When you lie down on the bench, pull your shoulder blades back (meaning down into the padding of the bench) and down (meaning toward your feet), and KEEP them pinned back like this throughout the set. You will fell that your chest/ribcage, or "chest girdle," is somehwhat "propped up" when in this position, although it does NOT involve arching your back or lifting your butt off the bench. This positioning keeps the shoulders from rounding forward (as most people incorrectly do when raising the bar), which would take the stress OFF the pecs and put it on the shoulders and tri's. Once you learn how to do this correctly, and MAINTAIN this form throughout the set, you will feel your pecs being worked MUCH more. Best of luck.

Personally, I consider flies to be a foo-foo exercise that don’t have any merit, and I’m not all that jazzed on decline benches either. One way I’ve used to help people develop their pecs is to have them simulate the fly movement during flat and incline barbell benches. (In other words, try to draw your arms inward – or “squeeze” the bar together – during the full range of the movements.) I also have them press to the nipples, and slow their reps down because they’re invariably using something like a half-0-half-0 tempo. You end up having to lower your weight quite a bit – e.g., I had one person whose form sucked so badly he had to go from 225 lbs. to 145 lbs. – but the six people I’ve used this solution on have all been very pleased with their subsequent improvement.

The problem appears to be that you are overtraining your chest. I know a ton of guys with with well developep chests and none of them do 13 sets for their chest workout. Try doing super sets for a few weeks with 8-10 reps on the pec deck then move immediatly to 4-6 reps on bench. To prove my point I hear there is a scandinavian woman who can’t go get her mail without getting a sunburn. (just kidding about that last part.)

Real simple bro…Up the flat bench reps and sets…Do four or five sets of incline…bag the decline—you work the same muscles on a flat bench as you would decline. Throw in some flys and you are set. Keep all rep ranges at 4-5 or higher.

Sorry Kennedy but flyes are not a foo foo exercise. A well known way to get past a chest sticking point is to do 3 weeks or so of HEAVY flyes. Rotate your palms at the top to get a good burn. Try it. What have you got to lose? If you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results…nothing.

My chest was falling way behind my other body parts until I started going very heavy and doing less volume. When you use more motor units, train the CNS. You can lift more weight and you’ll get bigger.You don’t need all those exersises just two or at most three chest exersises in a work out.

The best exersizes that got my chest up are bench and incline bench. Because of my body structure (long arms) I have to concentrate on always lowering the bar to the top of my chest and making sure that my upper arms form a straight line (180 degrees!). This form took the work off of my triceps and onto my chest. Also I agree with the lower volume posts. Heck, I do 1 set of bench on Tuesdays and 1 set of incline on Saturdays!

Polarman, in my opionion, you’ll see much better results by halving your volume. Also, your diet needs to reflect your goal of adding mass.

You’re wrong as usual, Avoids Roids. I do the same things Kennedy talks about, and it works really well for activating the pecs and getting growth. If more people focused on the basics and less on the peripheral shit then they would be a lot better off. BTW, what does feeling a burn have to do with muscle growth? That’s just lactic acid buildup.

flyes are for chicks that use pink dumbells. They are what women(and girly men like avoids roids) would call a “shaping exercise”. If you want pecs, incline and flat bench, and dips. no more than 7 sets, slow negatives, keep the reps under 10 and your all set

If you have been doing this for some time(and it sounds like you have) you should change something about your program. Personally, I would cut the volume in half. Do 7 sets a workout using your 2 most effective exercises. Or, if you are into trying something new, go to Matt furey’s website and order something called the power pushup. Start doing these and I believe you will see a huge difference. Here is something you should consider. If you aren’t already doing the same amount of work for your back as you are for your chest, you are well on the way to injury. Start doing work for your back and rotator cuff. For diet try Massive Eating. Good luck.

In terms of training, some people respond best to as little as 5 working sets per muscle group. Having said that, I would ignore the new static program type recommendations and go for some 5x5, HIT, GVT over the next few months using all your current exercises, and dips, but only using 2-3 each workout. Oh yeah, flyes foo foo if you have no pecs or dont mind pecs that look like tennis balls. I strongly suspect your diet is lacking (ie your lifts are better than I would expect from someone asking "what diet is best?). Read Massive Eating and remember bottom line that if you arent eating enough to make the scales move up a little each week your muscles will simply not grow.

My chest didn’t start filling in until i dropped the flat bench and concentrated on incline and flat dumbell presses. I was (am) a shoulder/tri bencher and, unfortunately, I wasted years of effort trying to prove otherwise.

Thanks for the replies T-bros. Looks like I will ditch decline. I will also cut my sets in half, part of the problem could be overtraining my pecs. I have to admit my diet is not as good as it should be, alright it sucks. I’ll do more research for a diet that will suit my needs (build mass)and straighten myself out. My tri’s and shoulders are very strong and I think when I bench they may take over and take some stress away from my chest. Any tips on exercises or technique so that my chest receives most of the tension? Thanks

Polarman,
Re-read my post in this thread on that very topic.

To place more emphasis on your chest you should take a medium to wide grip, and when you bring your arms down, make sure your upper arms stay at a 90 degree angle to your torso. Another way(to place emphasis on the chest) is to bring the bar down to your neck or upper chest but you’re much weaker this way so don’t you dare do it without a good spotter. Good luck.