Building massive, well-shaped chest muscles can be more difficult than it seems. It takes more than just performing bench presses week after week. Gaining chest muscle mass not only requires training the chest using a variety of different exercises and angles, but also strengthening the shoulders and back muscles to support your chest training and create balance.
The key to creating a massive chest is using a combination of strength, hypertrophy and sculpting exercises in your workouts. Bench-press exercises work to develop overall strength and mass in your chest. Including both flat bench press and incline bench press allows you to build the pectoral major and minor muscles. Expanding and stretching the rib cage is essential in creating a massive chest. This can be accomplished by including dumbbell or barbell pullovers into your chest routine. Additionally, exercises such as dumbbell flies, cable crossovers and dips should be included to help build and shape your overall chest area.
The execution of chest exercises is critical in gaining mass. It is essential to select an appropriate weight, allowing you to reach failure between a certain repetition range for each exercise. Ideally, each repetition should be performed at a slow to moderate speed throughout the entire range of motion of the movement. Stretching out to full extension, then coming all the way back to a position of complete contraction, is the only way to stimulate the entire muscle and every possible muscle fiber, says Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-author of "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding."
The chest can be trained once or twice a week. If training twice a week, rest for two days between chest workouts to allow for complete muscle recovery. For heavy exercises such as bench presses and incline presses, perform at a higher volume for three to five sets of 6 to 10 reps per set, resting two to three minutes between sets. For isolation and shaping exercises such as pullovers, dips, dumbbell flies and cable crossovers, perform for three sets of 10 to 15 reps, resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Shoulders and Back
Train your shoulders and back on days when you are not training the chest. Shoulder training is essential in chest development, specially rotator cuff muscles. The tiny muscles that make up the rotator cuff help stabilize the shoulder during pressing exercises. Without strong shoulders and rotator cuffs, you will not be able to build your chest to its full potential and are more likely to have a shoulder injury. Additionally, strengthening your back muscles enhances your chest training by creating balance and making your chest appear larger. Balance your chest training with back training.
- Inner Body: Muscles of the Chest and Upper Back
- Encyclopedia Of Modern Bodybuilding; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins
- American Council on Exercise: Chest Exercises
- American College of Sports Medicine: The Basics of Starting and Progressing a Strength-Training Program