For beginning and seasoned weightlifters alike, balanced chest development is high on the priority list. To gain size in your chest, most of your focus must be on flat bench presses. However, to enhance the look of your pecs, vary the angle of the bench and incorporate supplementary chest exercises.
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Repetitions, Sets and Frequency
Achieving hypertrophy, or muscle growth, requires lifting heavy weights. For each chest exercise, complete three to six sets of mostly six to 12 repetitions with a 1- to 3-minute break between each set. You'll know your weights are heavy enough if you cannot perform an additional repetition with proper form. Always give your chest at lest 48 hours to recover between workouts.
Barbell Bench Press
The barbell bench press, one of the most popular chest exercises, is a favorite for good reason. The exercise works your entire chest region as well as your shoulders and triceps. If you want to focus on your upper or lower chest region, perform the exercise at an incline or decline respectively. To perform a bench press, lie on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the barbell, and lift the bar off the rack. As you inhale, bring the bar down to the center of your chest. When you exhale, push the bar toward the ceiling. Always lift with a spotter to help you if the weight becomes too heavy.
Dumbbell Bench Press
While the bench press with dumbbells works the same muscles as with a barbell, balancing the dumbbells involves more of your stabilizer muscles. When you lift with a barbell, one side of your chest may do a disproportionate amount of work, but holding a separate weight in each hand forces each side of your chest to perform the same amount of work, helping you develop balance. Perform dumbbell bench presses as you would with a barbell, but have a spotter assist you in raising the weights into the starting position.
Dips help develop size in the lower portion of your chest. Place your hands on a pair of parallel bars and extend your arms while crossing your ankles to get into the starting position. Your arms should be supporting your entire body weight. Slowly bend your elbows, lowering your torso until your arms are bent to a 90-degree angle. To place more of the workload on your chest, try to lean forward throughout the exercise.