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Get the Best From Your Chest

  • Written by  Ash Phelps
Get the Best From Your Chest Get the Best From Your Chest

With men, a body part that receives a lot of gym attention is the chest. The chest is one of the most important muscle groups to get into proportion. Some men desire more bulk so they lift bigger weights with fewer reps and take longer rest periods between sets. Some desire a more toned, firm chest, so they lower the weight and rest period but increase the reps. Although a lot of men have a specific goal in mind there are plenty who are unsure whether a bigger chest is better, or if tone and definition is the way to go. Fear not - you can obtain all round results simply by mixing up the exercises you perform each week.

Many men go as far as to work their chest on a daily basis, although most experts stress the fact that it usually takes a minimum of 72 hours to repair a muscle after an intense workout. Remember that when working your chest, your triceps play a huge role in stabilizing and controlling each movement. Therefore it’s also encouraged that you give yourself 72 hours recovery time for you triceps as well and, when possible, work both muscle groups in the same training session. Gym-goers who ignore this fact will find themselves doing more harm than good to the body. The challenge with the chest is that when compared to your arms or shoulders there are a lot fewer exercises that provide results. With this in mind, it’s vital that you know a good selection so that training does not become repetitive or boring. non-repetition of the exercises performed involving a variety of different methods will give you faster and superior results.

As compared to the rest of the body, it can be more difficult to work the chest muscles. This is because the chest area does not engage in much direct physical activity. Lots of exercises indirectly work these muscles but, as such, the results are not immediate and will cost you lots of time. A common error among men make when working their chests is that they focus only on the mid section of the chest (exercises performed on a flat bench running parallel to the floor). As rewarding as it may seem seeing the dumbbells getting heavier and heavier each week, the mid section of the chest only makes up one third of your chest. The upper chest and lower chest are commonly missed when designing an effective training regime. These two areas are what makes one mans chest stand out from the next. Having a well-built upper chest makes you more visibly attractive as the results will be clearly visible through most shirts, while having a well-built lower chest will create a chiseled look between your chest and your upper abdominal muscles. Ideally all three areas of the chest - upper, mid and lower - should be worked equally.

Your specific routine should be chosen according to your desired results and the level of intensity you’re willing to give. You should alter your routine(s) consistently by increasing the level of difficulty involved, as well as by adding more complexity to exercises you have already mastered. The bench press is an excellent way to add either size or definition to the chest, and you’ll find that there are wide ranges of results that will come from changing your format. Having your hands closer together will work the inner part of your chest and having your hands wider apart will help build up your outer chest creating an attractive separation between your chest and your lats. It’s not just the press up that can be altered. You can even mix things up by bringing a pair of dumbbells down wider of narrower when performing a free-weight bench press. Always use free weights where possible. The added challenge of supporting each weight will work your chest more than you realize, as well as your core as you maintain stability with each movement

Lets look at some exercises that really will give you a chest to impress:

Incline and Decline Bench Press

Though often ignored, these exercises focus on the upper and lower parts of the chest. Use a heavy weight and perform lower reps to add size. Use a lighter weight and perform higher reps to add definition. For a rough guideline you should be looking at 6-8 reps with a heavy weight and 12-15 reps with a lower weight. Make sure you are strict with yourself on rest time between sets to provide maximum results. Aim for no more that 60 seconds when using a heavy weight and no more than 30 seconds when using a lightweight.

With the incline bench press, you’ll need to do the following: (1) lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly on the floor; (2) your shoulder blades should now be firmly pressed against the bench with your chest sticking up; (3) you should now grip the bar with your palms in the forward position and raise it with your arms extended out; (4) now lower the bar to within an inch of your chest; and (5) you should again lift the bar until your arms are completely extended. Similar to the incline, the decline bench press can be performed as follows: (1) lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly on the floor; (2) now lift the dumbbells straight up; (3) while slightly bending your elbows, you should now lower the bells until they’re in an arc; and (4) you should now raise the bells along the same arc until you’re back into the starting position. When performing either of these exercises, one thing to remember is that though they do work the chest muscles, they do NOT directly target the fat stored within them.
Press Up Triangle

Try this technique to add a new twist to the standard press up (pushup) exercise. Get in standard Pressup/Pushup position and place your hands together forming a triangle (thumbs of each hand extended adjacent to the index finger). For each set of press ups you perform, you should allot yourself the same amount of time to rest (example: one rep = one second of rest). After five sets of 15 reps you can take a 60 second break and then begin the entire procedure again. After you’ve begun to master this exercise, try only a 30 second rest in between and work your way up to 25 reps within a total of three sets. This form of exercise adds more burn to the triceps and can help to work all the muscles in the areas in-and-around the chest. It can also put a lot of strain on your arms, which is why the breaks listed above are vital for maintaining good blood-flow while performing the procedure.

Swiss Ball Press Up

Balance your feet on a Swiss ball making sure that your arms run straight down to the floor from your shoulders. Perform a press up pausing for 2 seconds at the bottom of the maneuver. This will work the upper part of your chest as well as strengthening your core with the added challenge of keeping your balance on the Swiss ball. Aim for 3 sets of 10 to start and work your way up to 4 sets of 15 to really feel the burn. This exercise is great when performed at the end of your chest session, as it really will require every last ounce of strength for you to complete the exercise.

Cable Crossovers

This exercise is performed by using a cable pulley machine (the pulley has handles at each end and the center of the machine is locked). While in the standing position, you’ll take the pulley’s handles and form a “T” with your arms extended from your body. Bend at the waist so that your upper body is parallel to the floor. Gripping the cable handles with you palms facing down, and making sure that your elbows are bent, pull the handles down until they are in line with your shoulders. This is the starting position. While exhaling, bring the handles down in front of your chest. Pause for a second and then return to the starting position while drawing in a deep breath. Use a weight that allows you to complete 6-8 reps to add size and 12-15 reps for a more cut look. A common mistake when performing a cable cross over is that men perform the exercise standing up and looking forward. The more upward your stance becomes the more your shoulder will come into play and thus your shoulders will actually reap most of the benefits.

Drop Sets

To finish things off, perform a drop set on the seated bench press machine at the end of you chest session once a week. What weight you start with obviously depends on your ability but try and start with a weight that enables you to only perform one repetition. Then immediately drop the weight to the next one down and perform as many repetitions as you can until failure. Allow yourself no rest and keep dropping the weight until you are on the lightest weight. Once completed get a drink and make sure you do not work your chest again for at least 72 hours so that it can repair itself.

As growth and definition develops it’s vitally important that you do not over train your chest. Too much training can make your shoulders roll forward and inward due to the tension of the chest muscle fibers. So make sure that if you are working your chest extensively that you put equal effort in to working your upper back to keep yourself proportioned - mainly trapezius and rhomboid muscles.

Article By: Ash Phelps


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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 22:08

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