T Nation

Trouble Concentrating My Pecs without Front Delts


#1

I just cant seem to get my pecs to grow, i squeeze my rhomboids and traps hard throughout bemch pressing movement, but my front delts seem to takeover alot of the load.

Can anyome offer advice? Should i tuck my elbows in, or flair them out parallel to the bar.

Should the bar come down to my nipples, or more towards my neck?

Ive read about preexhausting the pecs with flys… does this actually work to help activate them more while pressing? My front delts are very overdeveloped from bad benching form.

With regards to dumbbell bench, should i squeeze my pecs together to move the weights up, simultaneously extendimg my arms?

This is hard to think about, my chest muscles are one of the harder ones for my mind to connect to


#2

not everyone gets great pec development out of bench press. not a big deal. Just means you need to do more flys, and perhaps dips. have you tried dips? I generally prefer dips over bench press.


#3

What’s your height, weight, and general fat level? How much weight have you gained in the last 6 months? How much has your strength improved in that same time?

What’s your training look like?

The more info we have, the better we can figure out what’s up.

Pre-exhaust is slightly different from activation. Pre-exhaust tires the muscle so it fails first in a compound lift. Activation basically “wakes up” the muscle so you can contract it maximally during any exercise. Both can be used to target a bodypart “better”. Activation work is pretty much always lower intensity and usually lower volume, compared to pre-exhaust.

D-roy raises are a simple activation drill to do at the start of a chest workout:
droyraise

Thib has also discussed squeeze presses as an activation drill.

Pre-exhaust would be something like a set of flyes before every set of presses, or starting the workout with a few sets of pec-deck.

If you want to build your chest with dumbbell presses, yes, that’d be a good approach. And like Flip said, which Paul Carter and Scot Abel agree with, the flat bench isn’t always a great choice for building the pecs. Unless you compete in powerlifting, it’s fine to simply not train the flat barbell bench press.


#4

The tuck elbows cue only works if you are one of those guys who usually benches with elbows near 90 degress flared. Then a little bit of tuck will put you in the right place.

If you tuck a bit already forcing more will make you overtuck and lead to a worse bench overall.

Where the bar touches depends on your limb lengths, arch height, how much tuck etc. Do a few slow controlled or paused reps touching between nipples and mid sternum until you find a spot that feels good. Hit it every time.

Plenty of videos online to help you out


#5

However much your bench press form is or isn’t fucked up you are still using your pecs in the movement. If you progressively overload the movement there is a stimulus for all working muscles to grow even if the ratio of growth may be slightly front felt skewed.

Around about how much is your bench max?

Have your bench variations been getting stronger or have you been getting more reps/volume in?

I’ve issues with mind muscle connection with the pecs as well. I just concentrate on overloading various bench variations, dips etc. Tbh I get the best chest activation and pressing power when I just concentrating on putting up fast clean reps

After that I’ll do machine flyes where the mind muscle connection is better because I can really feel the stretch and contraction.

Have tried prevactivation and it was meh. Hit and miss with the results when I moved onto bench press


#6

Standing one arm cable chest press - pressing across your body. Focus on your pecs bringing your upper arm across your chest and squeezing the top position for a second (if you get good at this your pecs will feel like cramping)

Use this to finish off your training for 6 weeks, twice per week. The second session kneeling on one knee.


#7

Thanks Chris, i gave that activation exercise a try that you linked a video of, i also adjisted my weighted dips to flair elbows out more and use my pecs more.

Training routine will be posted this afternoon after work


#8

You could also try a few sets of svend presses before you start your chest work. When I used to do more bodybuilding oriented training, I’d do 5x20 of Svend Press with seated cable flyes for my upper chest to really feel it working before I started.


#9

Ill look into these as well. I had given up on incline pec work because my delts overpower amd i camt feel the mind conmection, i do decline as the altermative.


#10

If physique is the main goal, don’t do decline work at all really. Your lower chest will always look bigger than the top. The earlier you can establish a MMC with your upper chest, the better. Just do dips and low flyes for the low chest. Imo you really have to hammer your upper chest to have a solid v taper.


#11

I used to have the same issue with incline press - felt it almost exclusively in the front delts. Solution was to use a lower incline bench. The dedicated incline bench you see in every gym is way too steep of an incline for proper upper pec activation. For upper pecs, I do cable presses (they are somewhere between a press and a fly) with a flat bench propped up on a few plates (3-4 35s or 45s at my home gym, 2 45lb bumpers where I am right now). I then flatten my lower back out, taking out all the arch, feet up on the bench, and slightly tuck my chin during each set - this puts the emphasis right where I want it. And pressing mostly straight up and down (allowing the arms to stray outward slightly at the bottom for a stretch). Using the cables means I am also pulling in the whole time, keeping some stress on the sternal portion.

Still have some trouble building chest, but this has helped a lot.

Another good one is the underhand cable press one of the coaches on here posted some time ago - video and everything. I use both of these as accessory moves at different times in my training week.


#12

Okay wow thanks for all the great input. I’m swapping decline for incline and adding in incline flys. Here is my training routine, been doing this for 10 weeks or so. I’ve really seen my back grow in this time… starting to flatten out though and overall I am inexperienced with how to modify reps and weight to keep things growing. Also as reference I have taken the 4 DAW workout referenced on Scooby’s Workshop and modified it slightly for extra ab, calve, and chest growth.

w = warmup set

Monday: Upper Body A (Push)
Lat/Pull down machine w 50lb 4x 10-12 reps 65lb
Flat DB Bench Press w 50 lb 4x 8 70lb. I try to make it to 10 reps then add weight and drop reps
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl w 50lb 4x 8 70lb target reps is 8
Weighted tricep dip 4x 12 reps. Don’t always get to 12 so I go to failure
Seated Machine Fly 3x 12 reps 145 lbs
Rear Delt Fly 3x 12-14 75 lbs
Extra Tricep exercise here and there weekly to make them grow more. 3x 12 reps

Tuesday: Lower Body A (Push)
Barbell Squat w 5x 205lb 6-10 reps. Go to failure most every time
Seated Leg curl machine w 3x 12 reps 120lbs
Leg Press Machine 3x 8 500lbs or until failure
Glute Ham Raise 4x 110lb 10-12 reps

Wednesday: Accessory work (Abs, Calves, Side delts)
Hanging leg raise 5 x 10-15 reps (Go for 15 but usually have to cheat on the last 2 or 3 sets)
Donkey Calf Raise 5x 155lb 15-20 reps (Go for 20 but reps go lower on last few sets)
Lateral Machine Raise 3x 12 90 lbs
Plank Raises (Concentrate on upper ab squeeze at top of raise) 4x 8-12 reps (My core is very weak)
Seated Calf Raise Machine 5x 90 lb 12-18 reps (Reps decrease last few sets, going to failure)
Lateral DB side raises 3x 10 20 lb dumbbells

Thursday: Upper Body B (Pull)

DB Row w 90lb 4x 160lb 8-12 reps (reps die down towards last couple sets, going to failure on last few sets)
Flat Barbell Bench w 135 4x 195lb 6-8 reps. (Go for 8 reps throughout whole exercise before upping weight, going to failure most every set)
Rear Delt Row 4x 110lb 8-12 reps (Go for 12 reps throughout exercise but reps die down on last few sets)
Rope Push Down w 35lb, 4x 8-12 45lb (Triceps are weak)
Incline DB Bench Press 4x 8, 65lb
Barbell Downward row machine 4x 8-12 reps, 120lbs (Go to failure on most last sets)
Another Tricep exercise occasionally 4x 8 reps

Friday Lower Body B
Trap Bar Deadlift w 135lb, 4x 10, 245lbs (Try not to go to complete failure but come close on last rep of last 2 sets)
Stiff Leg Deadlift 4x 10, 70lbs
Leg Press 3x 8, 500lbs
Leg Extension Machine 4x 10, 110lbs

Saturday: Accessory work (abs, calves, side delts)
Hanging leg raise 5 x 10-15 reps (Go for 15 but usually have to cheat on the last 2 or 3 sets)
Donkey Calf Raise 5x 155lb 15-20 reps (Go for 20 but reps go lower on last few sets)
Lateral Machine Raise 3x 12 90 lbs
Plank Raises (Concentrate on upper ab squeeze at top of raise) 4x 8-12 reps (My core is very weak)
Seated Calf Raise Machine 5x 90 lb 12-18 reps (Reps decrease last few sets, going to failure)
Lateral DB side raises 3x 10 20 lb dumbbells
Should I add farmer walks with trap bar for forearm growth?

Sunday: REST Day

I need input/advice on:
Reps/Weight, should i be going for failure everytime or aim lower?
Chest work, my original post inquiring about pec growth without front delt involvement and delts taking over. You may wonder why I try to train my side delts, that is because I am trying to give that bodybuilder look of broader shoulders. I am built with broad shoulders but anything extra is nice too lol.


#13

Does anyome have input on the above routine i am usimg?


#14

I have had a similar issue my whole life. Started lifting at 14 am now 42. I’m 6’02” 235 right now. When I started lifting religiously my front delts blew up fast like shoulder pads. I have put ok size on my chest with heavy dumbell press (flat/incline) flys and cable flys. I am working on a 5x5 program now which incorporates the flat barbell bench again. As far as tucking the arms during flat barbell bench, my shoulders got sore as hell when I tried it a while back. I found that my overall growth went up when I started hitting the deadlifts and squats hard. Pullovers also expand the upper rib cage and chest.

In the end chest development is mostly based on genetics in my opinion. There are some weak guys walking around with developed and aesthetically pleasing chests, they can thank their parents not the weights.


#15

@Chris_Colucci to answer your questions:

Im 6’ 2", been lifting for 5 years, i have around 20% fat . Ive gained about 5lbs in the past 6 months with an increase of 10 lbs on all my lifts.i weigh 205lbs

Right now i benxh 195lbs for 4 sets of 8. I posted my training routine a couple posts above here as well.


#16

To be honest, I just think you are wasting your time with all the isolation exercise.

At 205 and 6’2 you are still considered small. Add 20% body fat, and your problem is not a problem. Self imposed, yes, but not a problem.

Congrats on almost body weight bench. That alone should tell you not to worry.


#17

@JFG, Thank you. What do you recommend for chest work then? To focus on incline DB press?


#18

No

Get on an intelligent program (ws4sb, 5/3/1, full body, etc) and stop worrying. When you stall at 225, we can revisit it.

Side note, what is your squat? Deadlift?


#19

Squat is 225 for 4 x 6 reps.
Deadlift is 275 for 4 x 8 reps


#20

Shape and build, yes. Size and definition, definitely not. People with poor development are the ones who write things like this off as genetics. Genes will definitely help and give an advantage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build up body parts without them.