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Big chest building tips

Posted by Lindqvist

Q: I am trying to build up my upper body .I have 15 inch arms but I'm only able to Bench about 140 pounds ( 8 reps 2 sets) .I find my chest is lagging, can someone help me to up my Bench press and also suggest an exercise to build up the center of my chest?

STOP THE PRESS ! Before you start some bench specialisation make sure you bench with your chest muscles, not with your delts ! If you do feel your chest when benching then upping the bench result will probably result in growth in the pec area, but if you tend to feel the movement in your delts the bench will not do anything except cause your front delts to grow out of proportion and very possibly result in overtraining of the front delts as well.

I benched with my delts for many years and as a result have had to relearn all chest movements and minimize pressing movements for the delts in order to bring my chest in balance with the rest of my body. I sure wish I had learn to bench properly from day one (like you I trained in a home gym for the first couple of years with no-one to correct my form !). Today I still don't do flat benches, since even though my form is good I still tend to activate my delts which are unproportionally strong compared to my chest.

An article I found a couple of years ago in MuscleMag (i.e. Greg Zulak: BASICALLY THE BEST; BACK-TO-BASICS CHEST TRAINING. MuscleMag International May 1995) which contained John Parillo's pointers on chest exercise form helped me tremendously (I just couldn't believe the pump I got when I first tried Incline Benches this way !).If my memory serves me right the pointers were ...

BENCH PRESS (any angle) - Roll your delts in under your body and stick your chest up. Actually the chest sticking up is a product of pushing your delts back (your delts should be on the bench, don't lye flat on your back). Press your delts towards your legs during the whole movement. Also, when doing flat benches don't push the bar straight up, it should actually move in a semi-circle so it's in front of your face in the locked-out position.

DUMBELL FLYES (any angle) - Same body position as above. When lowering the dumbells lower them diagonally towards your ears (just slightly in order to get maximum stretch, you're not trying to dislocate or tear anything !). Just short of locking out start to twist your palms so your thumbs move outward away from your body as if trying to make your elbows touch, which will contract the muscles harder (it feels sort of like a peck deck flye).

The pullover is another great 'tool' for building a BIG chest. If you are young this may help increase the size of your rib cage. At any age this helps expand the rib cage and stretches the chest muscles to the max. Some of the greatest 'chest' ever swear by this exercise.

Q: I DON"T have someone to spot me (I think this is why my B.Press is so low)

Neither did I when I trained at home, but I still trained to failure in benches and close-grip benches. What I did was to place something soft (I used one of those sack-chairs (?, you now a sack filled with foam pieces or whatever it is)) on the right side of the bench, and if I couldn't get the bar up I simply, with as much control as possible, dropped the right-end of the bar in the sack- chair and thus escaped the peril of being stuck until someone came home and rescued me. ("what did you do last night ?" - "Oh nothing special, I just rested with my barbell on my chest while practicing meditative breathing"...). NOTE: I'm not suggesting this is a safe way, I'm just saying how I did it (try it at your own risk !). A bar pad might be a good investment if you decide to try this. I also read (in MMI again !) a couple of years ago that some powerlifter (I think) benched at home using big round plywood pieces attached to each side ot the bar (like big plates); the pieces where just large enough so that they touched the floor in the start position, which enabled him to escape should he fail to replace the bar.

I've also seen ads for some sort of strapsystem that you attach to the roof and the bar, which would enable you to adjust the straps so they support the bar in the lower position (you guessed it, Escape !). Since I haven't had any experience with such an arrangement (frankly I would drill holes in my roof !) I can't say whether it's good or not (read: has anyone had any experience with them ? Just curious !).

The point is, if you can't bench with complete confidence (i.e. going to failure) you won't get much out of it ! Good luck !

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