Science Based Chest Training
A well developed chest is a staple in a good physique. Here's how to optimally train it:
1️⃣ Highest Muscle Activation: Multiple studies have shown the flat barbell bench press elicits the highest chest EMG activity.
2️⃣ Best pressing variation: Incline DB bench press is a great exercise to develop the chest. Putting the bench angle around 45* works perfect.
3️⃣Grip width: Taking a bit of a wider grip on the bench press appears to activate the chest a bit more than a regular grip width. However, with a wide grip injury risk can go up so I would be careful implementing it.
4️⃣ Range of motion: Utilizing a full range of motion is key to growing your chest. Exercises like DB flyes or cable flyes are therefore important. Also, using a full range of motion with dumbbells is very important for growth. You won’t be able to use as much weight, but chest growth should be better.
5️⃣Accessory Exercises: Movements like DB flyes really help to stretch the chest which will help growth and are a staple for chest hypertrophy. An exercise that will help you get a great pump and squeeze the muscle is a cable cross over where you actually cross the cables over your chest. It’s the end range of motion that’s key to getting a good squeeze in this exercise.
▪️Volume Recommendations: Dr. Mike Israetel states 12-20 weekly sets is a good benchmark for chest volume. Hitting them 2-3 times per week is a good frequency for most as well.
▫️High or low reps? The chest responds very well to heavy compound movements such as barbell bench press in the 5-8 rep range for hypertrophy. It also responds well to the 8-12 rep range for accessory movements.
▪️Tips and Tricks: Utilizing supersets such as a dumbbell fly with an incline dumbbell press is something the chest very well to. The key is to just start with a high rep chest isolation movement and then go into a compound chest movement. It responds very well to drop sets and giants sets as well. Slow eccentrics always help with breaking down the muscle which is critical for muscle growth. Eccentric-focused reps are a great addition for any hypertrophy-focused plan. Also, adding a slight pause in front of you with the cable cross over machine to squeeze the muscle increases time under tension which can lead to greater muscle gains. ▫️Sample Chest Day:
1️⃣ Bench press: 4x6
2️⃣ DB flyes: 3x10 ▶️Superset w/ incline DB press: 3x10
3️⃣ Wide grip push up: 3x12
4️⃣Cable cross over 4x12
5️⃣Dips 3x to failure