Walk into the gym any Monday night and you are likely to see the majority of guys working like mad on their pecs. So why is it that chest most often leads off the training week? Well, because big pecs are cool! Just look at almost any superhero movie and it is easy to see why most men covet massive, thick, and striated pectorals.
The funny (or sad really) thing is, despite all of the hard work, very few get to display the kind of chests that make jaws drop and tempt the ladies to reach out for a quick feel. You see, building perfect pecs is not as easy as lying on a bench and mindlessly pressing humongous weights. Rather, it takes a well-thought-out, progressive, and meticulous approach that carefully avoids the following mistakes:
Error 1 = Failing to Set the Torso Correctly
This is in my opinion the most common reason people fail to build the kind of chest they desire. Before even beginning any set of presses or flye one must make sure to raise the ribcage, slightly arch the lower back, and shrug the shoulders down and back. This position must be held from the beginning to the end of each set!
Error 2 = Utilizing too Few Reps Per Set
For some reason when it comes to chest training most guys worry more about how much weight they are lifting than how they are lifting it. While it is fun to test one’s strength on occasion with a “single” or “double” on the bench or incline press, this will do little to stimulate actual muscle growth. 90% of the time I advise 7-12 reps per set, and in perfect form, if your main goal is huge pecs.
Error 3 = Too Much Bench Pressing
There is no doubt that the BB Bench Press is an awesome pec-building exercise. After all, some of the best chests ever created were done so by “big benchers.” However, I feel most trainees rely on this movement too much, which can not only hold back muscular development but also cause overuse injuries that lead to major shoulder issues. Make sure to use a wide variety of exercises in your chest program including, flyes, dips, pullovers, as well as DB and machine work as well.
Error 4 = Not Emphasizing the Negatives
In an effort to push up bigger weights many guys let the BB or DB’s quickly drop to their chests so a nice “rebound” can occur from the bottom. Not only can this cause muscle tears and/or rib cage injuries, but will also rob you of the most effective portion (as far as hypertrophy is concerned) of every rep! Make sure to emphasize the negative (eccentric) portion of every rep by lowering the weight over two to five seconds for maximum pec development.
Error 5 = Missing the Angles
If you are aware of my many articles and how I coach my students then you know how big I am on changing up the angles of push/pull in order to hit a muscle in its entirety and recruit all sets of motor unit pools. When it comes to training the chest you can press/fly from a decline all the way to a very high incline, with so many angles in between! Vary these angles to knock off every muscle fiber and to make training more interesting!
Error 6 = Poor ROM
Do not tell your friends you can bench press 405 or DB press a pair of 150s if you are only lowering them halfway to your chest! I see this in the gym (and I train at Gold’s Venice, aka, “The Mecca”) all the time and the one common thing about all of these trainees is their utter lack of pec development. Do you want a chest like Arnold’s in his prime? Then cut back a bit on the poundage and start lifting through a FULL RANGE of MOTION – from full stretch to contraction.