Complete Pec Training Tips
1. For most people I see in the gym, the bench press has become more about building an ego than building a quality set of pecs. Rather than worry about how much you can lift, you need to focus your attention on how fully you can train and fatigue the pecs themselves (rather than the arms, shoulders, back, quads, etc.)
Here’s an oldie but a goodie to help get you to isolate your pecs on the flat bench press. It’s a simple technique that can really make a difference in how fully and intensely you’re able to hit the pecs.
Sit upright with perfect posture on the end of a flat bench. Roll your shoulders back and down slightly—almost as if you’re pushing your shoulder blades towards each other. Hold this position as you lay back on the flat bench.
With a shoulder’s width grip and your elbows in, maintain this position throughout the bench press. It may feel awkward at first and you won’t be able to lift as much weight as you’re used to, but you’ll hit your pecs hard and you’ll feel the pump.
2. Add some variation to your chest training and blast your upper chest (the key to that ripped look) with this killer Giant Set:
- warm-up your pecs thoroughly first.
- Dumbbell Flyes on the Incline Bench. Set the bench at a slight angle of around 30 degrees or so. Be sure to get a full stretch on each rep, and push yourself to failure. I like to use moderately heavy weights here (60 lbs. or so).
- Dumbbell Incline Presses. Go right into these without any rest at all using the same dumbbells you have in your hands from the Flyes. Go deep on each rep, throwing your chest out and upward at the stretch point. Then squeeze hard at the point of full contraction. Go to failure.
- Barbell Incline Press. Now jump right into Barbell Incline Presses with a moderate weight. Your pecs will be substantially fatigued at this point, so you’ll want to have a spotter to help you push out some solid reps. Again go to failure.
- Dumbbell Flyes on the Incline Bench. Drop your original dumbbell weight in half (30 lbs. in my example). Maintain great form and go to failure.
- Dumbbell Incline Presses. Finally, go right into Dumbbell Presses again with the same weight you already have in your hands. No rest. Pump out as many as you can. This final leg of the Giant Set really separates the men from the boys, or the women from the girls as the case may be.
- Take a 90 second rest and repeat entire Giant Set once or twice more if you dare.
3. To bring out the full striations in the pectorals, you need the type of continuous tension you get from doing cable work. Here are a couple of my favorite cable movements for the chest.
- Cable Crossovers. These are standard exercise for almost every advanced trainer, and yet you watch ten different people perform the exercise and you’re likely to see ten different variations. Almost all variations of this movement have some redeeming value.
Personally, I like to do Crossovers standing almost straight-up. Pull your arms down and hands together at a point about 6 inches in front of your lower abs. Perform the negative slowly, allowing your arms to rise above your head before exploding downward again.
In addition to this technique, I also like to do Crossovers bent at the waist (about a 45 degree angle) leaning forward. When the arms go up, the shoulder blades pinch together. When the arms come down, you should flex as if striking a “most muscular” pose.
- Cable Flyes on the Flat Bench. A personal favorite. I really enjoy the continuous tension Cable Flyes provide and the explosive pump you get in your pecs when the exercise is performed properly.
Place the handles on the low-pulley on the cable machine, and position a flat bench in the middle. Use moderate weight, keeping your elbows only slightly bent throughout the entire movement. As with all cable work, emphasize the movement by flexing hard at peak contraction.
- Cable Flyes on the Incline Bench. Another favorite of mine. For best results you want to use an incline bench with about a 30 degree angle. This will really hit the mid and upper pecs. A great movement for carving that chiseled, plate of armor look into your chest.