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Tips and techniques for developing a big chest.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I had another top-notch workout last night! Yesterday was my chest & abs workout, so I’d like to talk a bit about working the pecs. Properly targetting the chest is very difficult for a lot of people, especially beginners. Simply loading up the barbell with heavy weight and pushing it up and down is not sufficient.

First, I’m a firm believer that a solid mind-muscle connection is a critical component of building mass. “Mind-muscle connection” simply means that while you are lifting you are 100% focused on the muscles you are targeting. You’re not thinking about your girlfriend, your job or your car payment. The only thing you should be thinking about is using the muscle(s) you are targetting to perform the lift.

The second thing you have to do is put aside your ego. If your goal is to build muscle size (I’m not talking to power lifters here), then you must use weight that is light enough for you to perform the targeted number of reps with perfect form, using only the muscles you are targeting to perform the lift. I’ll use bench press as an example. Let’s say that you can lift 255 pounds for 4 sets of 8, but in order to accomplish that you have to bring your elbows close to your body, recruit your triceps and delts, bring your butt off the bench, bounce the weight of your chest and perform the lifts very quickly. You are using too much weight, and you are not stimulating your pecs as much as you would if you used less weight and perfect form. Using lighter weight is also a great way to learn how to establish the mind-muscle connection.

Using the same lifter that I sited in the above example, I’d suggest that he reduce the amount of weight he’s using to 170 pounds or so. I’m serious. With bodybuilding it’s not about how much you can lift, it’s about how much you look like you can lift! OK, so you’ve got a “measly” 170 pounds above you. Now, with your elbows nearly parallel to the bar, slowly lower the bar to the middle of the chest until the bar just kisses your pecs (about 3 seconds), then lift the weight and concentrate 100% on using only your pectoral muscles to accomplish the lift (about 2 seconds). At the top of the move, squeeze your pecs HARD for about one second. Always focus, and always maintain that mind-muscle connection. You should really feel it in your pecs. If you don’t, reduce the weight and practice until you’ve learned to establish the mind-muscle connection.

Here’s the workout I did last night. I’ve been doing barbell chest work for the past month, so last night I changed things up a bit and got some smith machine action in there. I’ll change this up again in about 3 weeks.

4 x 12 Smith Machine Bench Press
4 x 12 Smith Machine Incline Press
4 x 12 Weighted Chest Dips
4 x “Burnout” Cable Crossover

Many people are surprised how challenging a seemingly “wimpy” weight can be using the above techniques. When I began to lift using the methods I’ve described today, I noticed a big increase in my muscle development. Give it a try and see what you think!

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