Question: I’m strong as an ox when it comes to bench press but I’m lacking quality muscle in the chest area, what can I do?
Too often I find people who think that a strong bench press correlates with large chest muscles. Sometimes this is true, but a lot of times it is not. When you bench press, you are utilizing your core, shoulders, triceps, back, and chest to complete the movement. Depending on form, this could mean bouncing the bar off their chest, and almost missing the entire chest part of the exercise. Throw in someone who picks up their butt off the bench and you got an exercise that works almost zero chest.
If you want bigger muscles, it doesn’t always equate to bigger gains in the bench press. For instance, when I lift for strength, I like to arch my back, make sure that I’m on my tip toes to try to lift the weight easier through the motion. When I’m lifting for size, I want my back to be completes flat, feet completely flat, and focus on the chest part of the movement.
If you are someone who sees yourself using your shoulders, triceps, back, etc more in your movement, I’d try a 6 week workout of this:
Flat Bench Partial Press: The idea behind this exercise is to focus 100% on the pecs. The idea is to bring the bar down to your chest, and push until you feel your triceps and shoulders take over and immediately go back down to the chest. This will keep constant tension on the pecs (which will encourage them to grow). I use much lighter weight when doing this exercise because you will get tired faster because your chest does 100% of the work. I take no more than a minute break between these sets.
- I do 6 sets after warming up: 135 x 20, 155 x 15, 185 x 10, 205 x 6, 185 x 10, 135 x 20.
Machine Pec Deck: The idea behind this exercise is to do lighter weight and circulate as much blood flow to the pecs. I try to do 15-20 reps, and focus on not reaching back too far and to keep the chest tense. No more than a minute rest between sets.
- I do 4 sets: 120 x 15, 120 x 15, 120 x 15, 120 x 15.
I do this workout about every 4-6 months for about 6 weeks. Then I go back to traditional bench press and inclined dumbbell bench press. You should notice more chest thickness after completing a 6 week cycle of this workout.
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