A thick, powerful chest that stretches the very fabric covering it – demands respect! That’s why when it comes to pec development – no one is ever satisfied! We want more!
So, regardless of your present degree of size, if you want to truly experience the kind of top-to-bottom chest growth that you’ve only dreamed about – I’ve got five must-know tips to beef up your pecs with layers upon layers of dense, awe-inducing muscle!
Plus, I’ve included the “PERFECT” Chest Specialization Plan. This 4-week plan is going to give you insane pec development! Okay, no more preamble – let’s get to work.
Tip #1. Prioritize the Pecs
Prioritization is an important way to fix a lagging chest or to further enhance an already impressive one. That’s why it’s essential to train chest when you are fresh and fully recovered.
Your pec training needs to be your focus at this time – meaning you’re going to have to reduce the amount of work you perform on all other muscle groups. Remember, you can’t just add more work. If you do, you’re going to overwhelm yourself and quite possibly overtrain.
That’s why you need to balance out your overall training volume, but still put more attention on your pecs. To do this, hit them twice a week while reducing the amount of work done with other muscle groups.
“You grow outside of the gym, not in it!”
By hitting pecs heavy early in the week, when energy levels are highest, and again with a higher-rep workout later in the week, more size can be achieved (provided overall training volume is kept in check). We’ll get a little more into the benefits of increased training frequency in a bit, but suffice to say for now, you need to hit them hard and often.
Finally, be sure to separate the pecs from other muscle groups to keep the session specifically focused on your chest. This will enable you to put everything you’ve got into your chest training while also allowing you to get out of the gym sooner and focused o the recovery process faster with key nutrients essential for maximizing growth. Remember, you grow outside of the gym, not in it!
Tip #2. Know Your Chest
While you don’t need your doctorate in sports physiology, it’s important to have a reasonable understanding of a muscle’s basic anatomy and how it works.
For a fully developed chest, you must target both heads of the pec major (the thick triangular muscle situated on both sides of the chest): the clavicular head (shown in blue) and the sternal head (shown in red).
While most chest-building movements hit both heads to a certain degree, it’s important to realize that certain sections can, and should be, emphasized with specific movements.7 Therefore, for full pec development, it’s critical to hit both heads equally with a wide range of different exercises.
“For full pec development, it’s critical to hit both heads equally with a wide range of different exercises.”
Due to having several sites of attachment, the pec major should preferentially be targeted with several different types of pressing movement. While research has shown that regular flat bench presses sufficiently engage both heads of the pec major, research also points to the fact that tension can, and should, be isolated to specific parts of the chest. 2, 3, 4
As such, to maximally target the sternal head, a movement which best replicates its primary function of shoulder extension can be used. Any action that requires the pushing down of the arms from an overhead position will more forcefully activate this lower region. In other words, chest dips and decline press.7
The same research shows that greater activation of the clavicular head is best achieved with any movement that best replicates its main motion of shoulder flexion (reaching overhead) – various forms of incline press (particularly with a close grip) are perfect in this instance.7, 17
Given that both heads of the pec major are responsible for horizontal adduction and internal rotation (pulling the arm across the body and rotating the shoulder toward the midline of the body, respectively), it’s also important to include these types of movements. This makes various types of dumbbell press and flye movements especially worthy additions to any good pec-building program.
Tip #3. Use A Variety of Angles & Rep Ranges
The research is clear: Whether training with high loads (and lower reps) or low loads (and higher reps), the major determining factor in whether a muscle is likely to grow is the extent to which it has been fully stimulated.
Whether the reps are high or low, factors such as training to failure, proper movement execution and isolation of, and blood flow to, the target muscle must be factored in when aiming to achieve complete pec development. (But don’t worry – I’ve got the “PERFECT” Chest Specialization Plan to follow that takes all of this into consideration.)
For some, however, lifting enough weight to sustain an aneurysm on a few basic compound lifts appears to be the only strategy to packing on size. This approach may work to a degree, but there are much better ways to build phenomenal pecs.
Basically, you need to train your chest with a variety of different approaches to ensure best results.
“Train your chest with a variety of different approaches to ensure best results.”
Heavy weights and low-to-moderate reps must always be included when seeking supreme chest size and strength. Using the big boy weights have been shown to increase myofibrillar hypertrophy (the rod-like structures within muscles which produce force). Therefore, training heavier may lead to denser, stronger, and more functional muscles.
Conversely, lighter lifting is said to increase sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (the fluid part of a muscle in which the myofibrils are embedded). Therefore, lighter loads and higher reps may result in pronounced cellular swelling.16 (Read: You get “swole”!) However, building stellar pecs is not that simple.
Further studies show that higher reps can also produce a degree of myofibrillar hypertrophy while leading to greater levels of metabolic stress.5, 6, 10 Metabolic stress (the accumulation of metabolic byproducts such as lactate in muscle) can lead to an increase in muscle protein synthesis (building).
Higher reps may also allow the lifter to control the movement better and keep tension on the working muscles for longer. All of which are important for muscular growth.
“Both heavy and light training can help you build thick slabs of muscle.”
Bottom line: Both heavy and light training can help you build thick slabs of muscle.6, 10, 20
Whether we choose to train heavy or light, complete pec growth can only be achieved with a wide selection of movements, with a focus on hitting a maximum number of fibers from multiple angles.
So, be sure to not only work the pecs horizontally and with incline/decline movements, but also adjust the degree of incline/decline and attack them from the sides with a good selection of flye/crossover variations. (Once again – I’ve got you covered with the “PERFECT” Chest Specialization Plan to follow.)
Tip #4. Increase Pec Training Volume
You’ve had it drilled into your head that rest and recovery are essential prerequisites for lean mass gains… and they are. However, perhaps you’ve taken this notion too far to where you’re not doing enough to stimulate pec growth to the fullest possible extent. Or perhaps, you’re doing too much at once and not enough over time.
The key point to remember when aiming for maximum size is that training volume is only important to the extent that it progressively stimulates ongoing gains in lean muscle. Therefore, when specializing, overall pec training volume must be taken into account and acted upon.
With this in mind, twice weekly training gives the pecs a greater opportunity to grow via more frequent bouts of muscle protein synthesis, without making excessive inroads into recovery.
While weekly training sessions, which exceeded one hour in duration for individual muscle groups were once the norm, experts now believe that more frequent bouts are best.9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19
“A training session can increase muscle protein synthesis for up to 48 hours!”
Done correctly, a training session can increase muscle protein synthesis for up to 48 hours for beginners (around 16 hours for more experienced lifters).12, 18 Since, muscle growth is dependent upon protein synthesis, the logical conclusion would be to, within reason, repeat this cycle as often as possible. Remember: We only grow to the degree to which muscle protein synthesis occurs. Once it stops, we stop growing.
By training a body part once a week (A.K.A. “Bro Splits”), we spend 5-6 days essentially failing to grow. On the other hand, training a muscle group – in this case, the pecs – twice a week we effectively double the amount of growth which may occur.12
Tip #5. Up the Intensity
Some lifters think they are training hard enough, but, in reality, they are merely coasting. If you’re not struggling to hit those final reps, you’ve probably not done enough to adequately challenge the muscles.
Intensity is a crucial training factor that forces a muscle to grow. As we transition from beginner to intermediate to advanced lifter (and beyond) we must look for newer and more effective ways to stimulate further muscle gains.
“Intensity is a crucial training factor that forces a muscle to grow.”
Muscle is the most remarkably adaptive of tissues and for bodybuilding purposes it must be treated as such. Give muscle enough of a stimulus and it will be forced to adapt (become larger and stronger). The right amount of training intensity remains the best way to promote ongoing muscular adaptations.
Therfore, for a massive chest, always seek to periodically add more weight in order to place more growth stimulating tension on the pecs. However, upping the resistance and/or reps is not the only way to increase intensity and induce impressive size gains.
By using a range of intensity methods, you can challenge the pecs to work harder, pump up faster, get stronger and ultimately grow for massive gains in size!
Fortunately, the pressing motion and range of movements required for complete pec stimulation lend themselves perfectly to four of the best intensity methods ever devised: drop sets, rest/pause, heavy negatives and compound sets.
Drop sets increase intensity by allowing the lifter to continue when fatigue sets in. For the workout to follow we will incorporate triple-drops. After the first set, strip 30 percent of the weight off the bar (or select lighter dumbbells accordingly) and complete another set with minimal rest in between. Repeat, and do a third set. The pump you’ll get from triple drop sets is insane!
“The pump you’ll get from triple drop sets is insane!”
For rest/pause, upon achieving failure (not an oxymoron when it comes to training), do not rack the weight but, instead, pause for a three-count, then crank out another rep. Repeat for three further reps. Be sure to use a spotter for this (just in case).
For negatives, select a weight that will only allow 2-3 full reps and, upon reaching failure, have a spotter assist you on the positive while you work to control the weight on the negative; do 6-8 further negative reps.
For compound sets, upon completion of one set, go directly to another chest exercise and, without resting, bang out a second set.
Bonus Tip #6. Enhance Your Efforts & Results
By following the above steps, you have the framework to take your pec development to a whole new level.1 However, even the best laid plans will take you so far.
In order to capitalize on the “PERFECT” Chest Specialization Plan to follow you need to train with the utmost intensity and focus to ensure every rep counts. While also providing your body with the key nutrients necessary to maximize your results. Basically, you need multi-pronged nutritional approach help translate reps into results.
To do so, we recommend using ONSET to heighten training focus and intensity. Simply put, the combined effectiveness of ONSET’s clinically-proven ingredients will ensure that you get the most out of every workout!
“ONSET’s clinically-proven ingredients will ensure that you get the most out of every workout!”
Furthermore, by taking BCAA Hyper Clear during a workout, you’ll be setting yourself up for optimal gains. By supplementing with BCAA Hyper Clear you’ll be feeding your muscles directly to help reduce the catabolic effects of training, provide your body with key electrolytes to support your performance, and increase mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling and FSR (fractional synthesis rate).8
Both mTOR and FSR are part of the muscle-building process. mTOR initiates protein synthesis whereas FSR is the rate at which amino acids get incorporated into muscle tissue.
As soon as your workout is complete and your muscles are primed for nutrient uptake via increased insulin sensitivity (from training), it’s time to promote maximum growth with DIESEL. This premium, fast-absorbing whey protein isolate is ideal post-workout and provides the critical amino acids your body needs to build thick, dense muscle!
- Atherton, P. J., et al. (2012). Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. The Journal of physiology, 590(5), 1049-1057.
- Barnett, C. V., et al. (1995). Effects of variation on the bench press exercise on the EMG activity of five shoulder muscles. Strength Cond. Res., 9, 222-227.
- Clemons, J. et al. (1997). Effect of grip width on the myoelectric activity of the prime movers in the bench press. Strength Cond. Res., 11, 82-87.
- Duffey, M. J., et al. (2007). Fatigue Effects on bar kinematics during the bench press.Strength Cond. Res., 21(2), 556-560.
- Dankel, S. K., et al. (2017). Do metabolites that are produced during resistance exercise enhance muscle hypertrophy? Eur J Appl Physiol. Nov;117(11):2125-2135.
- Fink, J. et al. (2016).Impact of high versus low fixed loads and non-linear training loads on muscle hypertrophy, strength and force development. May 20;5(1):698.
- Jagessar, M. et al. Optimizing Development of the Pectoralis Major. The Sport Journal. [Online] https://thesportjournal.org/article/optimizing-development-of-the-pectoralis-major/ – retrieved on 7.12.18
- Jackman, S. R. (2017). Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Front Physiol.2017; 8: 390 (Published online 2017 Jun 7).
- Mangine, G. T., et al. (2015).The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol Rep. 2015 Aug; 3(8 (Published online 2015 Aug 13).
- Mitchell, C. J., et al. (2012).Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. J Appl Physiol. Jul;113(1):71-7.
- Ochi, E. et al. (2018). Higher Training Frequency Is Important for Gaining Muscular Strength Under Volume-Matched Training. Front Physiol. 2018; 9: 744 (Published online 2018 Jul 2).
- Phillips, S. M., et al. (1997). Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 273: E99 –E107.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2015). Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. Jul;29(7):1821-9.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med.Nov;46(11):1689-1697.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sports Sci. Jun;35(11):1073-1082.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2015). Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res.Oct;29(10):2954-63.
- Saeterbakken, A. H., et al. (2017).The Effects of Bench Press Variations in Competitive Athletes on Muscle Activity and Performance. J Hum Kinet. Jun; 57: 61–71.
- Tang, J. E., et al. (2008). Resistance training alters the response of fed state mixed muscle protein synthesis in young men. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 294(1), R172-R178.
- Thomas, M. H., et al. (2016). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. Int J Exerc Sci. 2016; 9(2): 159–167 (Published online 2016 Apr 1).
- Wilborn, C. D., et al. (2009). Effects of different intensities of resistance exercise on regulators of myogenesis. J Strength Cond Res. Nov;23(8):2179-87.