I have long searched for an answer to the question: How can I increase the size of my chest muscles? All guys want a chest like Captain America, Batman, or Superman. We join the gym and train our pecs for hours. We give it everything, but we don’t get results. And we rely on bench presses, just putting on as much weight as we can. It never seems to be enough, and we only end up with higher max-outs and slight gains.
After 20 years of training and researching, I’ve learned why:
To build a huge chest, you must train with controlled weights. These heavy exercises stimulate the release of human growth hormone from the anterior pituitary gland. The amount of hormone released depends on the intensity of the movement. A high-protein diet and adequate rest must accompany this.
Below, are some tips that l know will begin to yield results.
How do I get Superhero pecs?
First question: Do you use the correct technique? Answer: YOU DON’T! To start, if your pecs aren’t developing, that means you don’t train them correctly.
You would think that, when you lift big weight, your body’s muscles have to respond sooner or later. It’s not like that.
To stimulate real muscle growth, you need to target and work on that specific muscle. If you only max out on weight, you can’t respect the technique that will properly activate the pectoral.
When lifting too much weight, people tend to cheat to get from point A to point B. That causes your body to engage secondary muscles, and so the primary muscle isn’t getting to work enough.
A study by the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) shows that 70% of people who train in gyms do so ineffectively and with poor technique. That is a lot of people! Are you one of them?
To engage your pectoral muscles 100% in all your exercises and train your correctly, you should follow these tips:
Elevate your chest
To work the pectoral correctly, our chest has to be the highest part of our body. To achieve this, we must perform a correct scapular retraction.
Proper technique makes for results like the legendary Jay Cutler—he won Mr. Olympia four times, and three times he took home the trophy at the Arnold Classic.
Another key tip: throw the shoulders back. By doing this, we will get the full effect of the exercise on the pectoral.
Stretch and contract the pectoral
It is scientifically established that hypertrophy (fancy for muscle growth) requires congestion, in addition to moving weight.
To congest the muscles faster and fill them with blood, we have to squeeze them on the concentric movement and stretch them on the eccentric.
Take advantage of negative repetitions.
When you do your repetitions, it’s not just the weight-bearing movement that works the muscles.
If you only do this, you’re missing out on half the effects of the exercise.
In the downward movement, don’t just drop the weight. You should to try to hold it while lowering.
That resistance to keep the weight from simply falling does incredible work on the muscle.
Concentrate on the muscle
When you are running through the exercises, you have to concentrate on gaining and losing weight with the muscle itself.
Remember, it’s not just about moving up and down from point A to point B.
You have to be present, and focused on pectoral’s movement. It looks easy, but you need to practice on doing it well. Every rep.
This will help you define your muscles faster, and make your chest stand out more. More detailed information on this is below.
Use the right weight.
The common belief is: weight for volume and repetitions for definition. This is another half-truth. You can’t go from lifting 40 lbs to 50 lbs without having muscular maturity.
The body demands more weight over time as its muscles become more mature. For the best results, work with a load that makes it difficult for you to finish the repetitions that your monitor has set for you.
And please, do not compare yourself to anyone else. Some will lift more and others less, but remember, the goal is to increase the pectoral volume. To achieve this, as I said before, you must use a correct technique that involves only the chest muscle.
At times, we call anyone to help us and put an amount of weight on the bar not to move. Usually, this person behind us is going to be stronger than we are.
For example, if you put 80 lbs on the bar and you can’t handle it, 1% of that weight will work. Putting a little weight on and moving it well, whether 30, 20 or 10 lbs, that weight is going straight to your chest. In other words, you need to focus on working the muscle itself.
When bench pressing, many people make the mistake of working with elbows pointed out to the sides.
If you find this happen, you are not working directly on the pecs. Your shoulders are doing work at this point, and you are exposing yourself to possible deltoid injury.
Your elbows should always face forward to maximize pectoral engagement. Often, we see people with giant shoulders without the chest to match, and that’s because they’re working with their elbows to the side.
Use a proper grip on the bench press.
If you want to bench press correctly, your grip must be neither too broad nor too narrow. The ideal grip is about 10 centimeters wider than the shoulders.
Vary the order and angles of the exercises
Most of us always start with the same exercise or end with the same movement. It is good to start with a bench press whenever you change, and begin with inclined, declined, or openings.
Another key to muscle development is to surprise the muscle. If you train it always in the same way, it gets used to the routine and does not produce ideal results.
Rest for a maximum of one minute between sets
Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets for an intense and effective workout, not for two or three minutes. If the break is too long, it lowers the intensity and you lose some blood flow to the muscle.
This is a huge time-saver. It’s unnecessary to be in the gym crushing the muscle for two hours. If you train efficiently, 45 minutes is enough.
- Alternate press movements with opening exercises.
- Include exercises for the upper, lower, and middle pectorals.
- Make complete movements.
- Use strict technique and style.
- Put your mind in the muscle; feel how your pectorals contract.
- Get enough rest.
- Eat a high-protein diet.
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How do I increase my muscle chest size?
Stimulate the pectoral muscle
First thing you must know: no matter how much you work the muscle, no matter how heavy you lift, if you don’t stimulate the pectoral muscle correctly…IT WILL NOT GROW.
Adhere closely to a low-fat diet to control weight, and for other health reasons. For muscle growth, it is essential to have the necessary proteins for the muscle to repair itself.
Proteins have an essential function in the repair and creation of muscle. If you don’t water and fertilize the plant, it will not grow.
We always recommend the intake of 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. For example, if you weigh 70kg, you should ingest between 105gr and 140gr a day.
As you know, the primary sources of protein are meat, fish, and eggs.
If you want to gain mass quickly in your chest and body, you must supplement with an adequate whey protein.
Don’t skimp on this; buy a quality one.
- Maintain a low-fat diet throughout the year to stay relatively slim.
- To build muscle, take 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight on heavy training days.
- Consume 25-50% less protein on the days you don’t train, or when trying to lose weight.
- Adjust the number of carbohydrates depending on aerobic activity, and whether you want to gain, lose or maintain body weight.
Get adequate rest
So you know how to increase chest volume by stimulating the pectoral muscles. You know how to eat so that the muscles have the necessary nutrients for growth.
One thing is missing.
The third key to pectoral growth is adequate rest. By this, we mean not only to get enough sleep (at least 8 hours), but to take few days of recovery so your pectorals can regenerate.
Increasing your chest volume means that you should not train your chest too often. You will achieve the opposite effect.
We always recommend training the chest once or twice per week, with three days of rest between training sessions.
That will give your pectorals time to recover and regenerate the tissues damaged in the previous training.
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Exercises to increase volume in the chest
I have always been a firm believer in free weights’ effectiveness when it comes to chest training.
I use machines and cables to train other muscle groups, and only occasionally for chest training. But for proper development of chest mass, shape and strength, nothing beats bars and dumbbells. Period.
When training the chest, there are only two movements to choose from: presses and openings.
Since pressing achieves different results when using bars versus dumbbells, we need to use both. For these exercises, it’s essential to work the chest from different angles:
The best way to train a muscle is to contract it directly in a line from the point of origin to the insertion point. The catch is that pectorals have only one point of origin (at the shoulder), yet many insertions (at the front of the ribcage).
It is essential to work the muscles from different angles to involve all the fibers. The best chest training routine for volume is simple:
The best exercise routine for chest development
For this routine to be effective, you should do it no more than twice a week, but with a lot of intensity. Remember that rest is fundamental for muscular hypertrophy. Here’s an example routine:
|Bench press||4×8-10 reps.|
|Dumbbell flies||4×8-10 reps.|
|Dumbbell chest press||4×8 at 10 rep.|
|Cable flies||4×8 at 10 reps.|
|Pullovers||4×8 at 10 reps|
Start with a bar press exercise, either inclined or flat. Do four sets of 8 to 10 repetitions, except for the last set, where you lower the weight.
Flat or inclined flies
After the presses, you have to do an opening exercise, flat or inclined. Complete 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions, except for the last one, where you again reduce the weight.
Dumbbell chest press
After the flies, we continue with another dumbbell press exercise, inclined or flat. Do 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions. In the last set, take off some weight and do more reps.
Finally, I recommend you finish your chest workout with cable flies to get your pecs congested to the max.
Pulley crosses are a great way to get your chest congested at the end of your workout. But, don’t rely on just this. Again, working with cables alone is not the best way to build quality muscle.
Chest exercises with cables are useful for finishing this muscle group’s training to achieve maximum size, shape, definition, and striations. Outside of this routine’s final exercise, do basic exercises with large weights—cable-based chest congestion is not enough.
I also usually include the dumbbell pullover at the end of workouts to stretch those tired pecs.
Since it is a stretching exercise and not a muscle mass exercise, the strict and complete runs are more important than lifting big weight.
Whatever workout you are going to do (in this case, volume), include some aerobics.
I used to run, but I found that the exercise bike is better for burning calories and increasing metabolic efficiency. It’s easier on the body, and doesn’t sacrifice muscle mass in the process.
However, even when my goal is to lose weight, I never use aerobics to substitute for diet.
If you believe that excess aerobic movement is excellent for achieving definition, take a look at elite endurance athletes like marathoners and triathletes.
They are in great shape, but have almost no muscle volume. Since our goal is maximum muscle volume and chest development, don’t overdo it with aerobics, or you’ll end up burning away muscle.
- Start with a bench press. 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- An opening exercise like flies. Again, 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Another dumbbell chest press exercise. 4 more sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Cable flies as a final congestion exercise.
- Pullover with dumbbells as a transition exercise and to stretch the pectorals.
- Do some aerobics, ideally on an exercise bike.
In short, you have to train with precise technique, feed your body muscle-building nutrients, and not over-train. Here are some final tips:
To increase muscle size: increase heavy training, decrease your aerobic activity, and increase your protein intake up to about 2 grams per day per kilogram of body weight.
If you want to lose fat and make your pectorals look better: train lighter with more aerobics, and cut your protein intake by 25% to 50%.
The big secret to increase your chest muscle volume is not to overdo it. You have to stay slim, so as your pectoral muscles develop, they will appear much more defined.
Follow these tips, and you will have your chest looking like Arnold’s.