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Lagging Chest - Change Programming?

Hey all, I was hoping for some critiquing of my current chest training. A lot of articles say to lower the frequency to avoid overtraining, while others say to ramp volume 3x a week… I have been training chest two times during the week, once focused on strength and once focused on volume. I follow this split with my legs and back, and both have resulted in fairly noticeable growth, however I can’t shake the feeling that my chest doesn’t quite look right in comparison. It’s especially irritating that I’ve got a stronger bench than my lifting partner, yet he has 5x more mass in his chest…

My strength chest day is autoregulated based on how I feel, but the most recent was:
-3x3 flat bench @ 92% 1RM
-1x3 flat bench @ 90% 1RM
-3x3 incline bench @ whatever my chest feels like doing (recently 225)

  • followed by OHP, then arms.

Volume chest day:
-3x8 flat bench @79% 1RM
-3x5 incline bench @ whatever my chest feels like doing (recently 205)
-3x AMRAP dips

  • followed by my back routine

The percentages are based on a 2 month old 1RM, and I haven’t always done that high of a percentage each lift, I’ve just slowly been working up in weight over the past 2 months based on how the lift is moving. Add volume? Decrease intensity? My chest has grown past the stage of a 10 yo boy’s, but not quite a 15 yo’s lol. Any advice is welcome.

Are you eating enough or in a way that actually encourages mass gain?

I don’t count calories anymore, but yes I’ve been fairly clean bulking from 195 two/three months ago to just under 210 currently. (I’m 6’ 3”)

Bench isn’t a great chest builder for everyone. Consider some chest isolation work, perhaps some slight incline DB work.

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Your reps are relatively low across the board as well. You can build up some muscle with low-rep sets, but it’s going to take more sets (in my experience with just me).

I also agree with @strongmangoals about exercise selection: your program is pretty bench-focused and that may leave your chest behind a little. You could switch to a low-incline press as your primary strength movement, and use DB flat press, dips, and even machine presses as your assistance.

I’d likely bump your strength day up to 5-6 reps as a focus, and your volume day to 8-15.

a nice trick I found to feel a good chest pump from benching is to 1 1/2 bench on your rep days, so one rep is down , up halfway, then back down and fully up - not only increases the TUT and Volume , but helps get the bench targeting the pecs more than the tri’s and front delts too

Yeah, I admit I have been chasing numbers lately on the bench. I’ll be sure to add more hypertrophy assistance work.

I’ve heard about low incline being revered as better than a flat bench, but why is that?

You get a slightly different angle and range of motion. The incline lets your elbows travel down and away more safely than does the flat bench. That lets you stretch the lay more completely. On the concentric, the angle lets you elevate your sternum and complete the rep right above your clavicle and still perpendicular to the ground (so your angle is against gravity).

I’m not sure if that made as much sense written as in my head, but there you go.

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