If you don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after weeks of bench-pressing, don’t give up just yet. Your routine might just need tweaking. Developing your chest is about adding workouts to your routine that complement and challenge the upper body.
“Start with movements that involve not just the pecs, but also the deltoids, shoulders and triceps,” says exercise physiologist Neal Pire, founder of Inspire Training Systems. “All of the muscle groups that surround the pectorals are connected, so they need to be included in your training program if you want to fully develop your chest.”
If your goal is to build defined, rock-hard pecs, try these techniques and moves Pire recommends to his clients.
Use A Machine To Fine-Tune Your Skills
“Machines can be very advantageous, especially if you’re a beginner,” Pire says. “Try using a chest-press machine, because all you have to do is push.” Pire recommends starting with two to three sets of eight to 12 reps. The amount of reps you can complete is what determines how much weight to lift. Start with a weight that allows you to master 12 reps while maintaining proper form. When you can perform more than 12 reps with that weight, try adding five to 10 pounds and see if you can make it up to 15 reps. Once 15 reps is no longer a challenge, make your load heavier.
Better: Bench Press Properly For Optimal Results
If you’re benching incorrectly, you could be hindering your progress. Lie flat on your back and lift the bar off the rack. Hold it over your chest, arms fully extended. Bend your elbows and bring the bar towards the top of your chest (not to the neck or abdomen). Then press it back up to the fully extended position. That’s one full rep. You can make this workout a little more of a challenge by doing the exact same move on an incline press, which exercises the tops of the pecs. Complete two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, following the weight structure above.
Best: Add A Dumbbell Fly To Your Routine
A dumbbell fly almost exclusively works the pecs. It’s similar to a bench press, except you’ll be holding dumbbells instead of a bar. Lie on your back and hold the dumbbells over your chest, palms facing each other. The arms should be extended with the elbows slightly bent. Bring the dumbbells out to the side to stretch the pecs. Then bring your arms back to the starting position. Complete two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, just like the above exercises. “This move should be attempted after at least six weeks of gradually adding two to three sets on the bench press to two to three sets on the machine,” Pire says.