So you can’t build a big chest no matter how often or how much you bench press? In this video, I’m going to show you the biomechanical and scientific reason why this is the case for you and, more importantly, give you an exercise for your chest that will make it grow better than everything else you’ve tried.
The key to a bigger chest is making sure that you are activating the pecs and not your shoulders and triceps during your pressing. Some of the limitations of the bench press are known to be inhibiting the very activation that you are seeking. These are worsened by the fact that some people just aren’t genetically as predisposed to flourish with the bench press.
Let’s start by discussing the biomechanical limitations of this popular chest exercise. First, the range of motion. We know that horizontal adduction of the arm across the chest (at the shoulder joint) is one of the primary functions of the pec major / chest muscles. During the bench press, your arm only goes through about a total of 80 to 90 degrees of adduction. This comes from a negative fifteen degrees at the bottom of the bench press up to about 70 degrees or so at the top of the rep.
When people have a hard time building their chest they simply don’t get enough activation of the pecs to stimulate growth. This is worsened by the fact that they often substitute pec contraction for deltoid and triceps activation to move the bar.
The second thing to note is that the strength curve of the bench press is descending, meaning that as the bar moves away from the chest the exercise gets easier and tension is lost on the pecs. So when the shoulder is in its most adducted position, the corresponding tension on the pecs is at its lowest. This again does not bode well for the exercise in its capacity to add lots of mass to the chest.
Biologically speaking, certain individuals have lower proportions of fast twitch fibers in their chest, which only further decreases the responsiveness of the exercise to a heavily loaded exercise like the bench press. Don’t misunderstand, the bench is a formidable exercise for your chest in terms of its ability to be progressively overloaded and to create chest growth by simply applying more tension to the chest than other pec exercises. It just isn’t enough.
The length of ones arms can also be a negative when it comes to seeing chest gains during the bench press. Those with longer arms will have a harder time creating the leverage needed to lift heavy weights on the exercise and therefore tend to struggle more with letting the chest lean on the delts and triceps too much for assistance during the lift.
The answer to your problems is to incorporate the cable chest press with adduction as well. This powerful chest mass booster is one of the most underrated and effective exercises for building a bigger chest. The key to the success of this chest movement is the fact that it addresses all the primary weaknesses of the barbell bench press. Not only can you get much more adduction from the movement but the tension on the chest at the peak of adduction is far greater, leading to more overall stimulation during the exercise.
Additionally, the strength curve compliments that of the barbell bench press and allows for a much better stimulation of the chest over a greater portion of the range of motion. Using this along with the bench press performed heavy, is one of the best one-two combos you can use when you are trying to build a big chest.
Be sure to follow the tips for setting up this exercise correctly and how to perform it with proper form so as not to leave any of the potential gains on the table. I include setup instructions in the video as well.
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