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How to Build a Big Chest

vjestAll of you guys that are familiar with our site know that we uncompromisingly state that EVERY man should train with weights. 

The real Alpha men of the world are strong, muscular, lean and fit. They are that way because they consistently follow intelligent training programs, bust their ass in the gym and they follow a clean, high protein diet.

Knowing this, I’m sure that most of you have already started a weight training program and you’re working hard towards building more muscle. 

Even if you already look like Lou Ferrigno during his days as The Hulk us gym rats are ALWAYS striving to gain more muscle. We want a thicker back and bigger traps. We want to gain another inch on our biceps. We don’t just want a big chest, we want a MASSIVE chest.

This article is intended to help with the latter. Although most experienced lifters and bodybuilders will tell you it is best NOT to have a favorite body part, because having a favorite will undoubtedly cause you to put more effort into that area and could leave you lacking the symmetry required of an amazing physique, let’s be REAL…  

…We all have our favorite and, if you’re anything like me, developing your chest is absolutely a TOP priority!

While the calves, forearms and abs all need their share of attention too (and please, for the love of God, don’t be one of these guys who never trains legs) it is my humble opinion that no other body part better displays an Alpha physique like the chest does. 

A thick, muscular chest is an exemplary trait of a powerful and rugged physique and men who obtain this level of chest development ooze confidence and sex appeal towards women.   

The only body part I could think of that would come in at a VERY close second in terms of making a man look like a BEAST, would be the shoulders. Interestingly enough, the two body parts go hand in hand. You cannot develop an amazing chest without building considerable strength and size in your shoulders. However, I digress…

Considering that the chest is a focal point for most every lifter I’m sure most of you have spent your fair share of time on a flat, incline and decline bench, hammering away at your pecs with barbells and dumbbells. If I just described you, I salute you! You’re definitely approaching your chest development with the focus and work ethic required to reach your goals. And, I’m willing to bet you’ve built a significant amount of muscle already.

However, as I stated above, no matter how much muscle us men build we’re always working for more. Therefore I’d like to take the tried and true techniques we’ve all used for years and explain how you can expand upon them during your quest for a bigger chest and possibly reach your goals faster. Ultimately I firmly believe if you will embrace a few new, not so radical, concepts it will allow you better chest development than you may have ever achieved before.

Specifically I’d like for you to begin looking past the standard flat, incline and decline angles when choosing which exercises to use on chest day. By all means, keep your focus on the basic, compound movements and do NOT abandon heavy presses for endless sets of light cable crossovers or dumbbell fly’s. However, I DO recommend for you to start incorporating some seldom used and uncommon angles for your presses.

A prime example is the Incline bench press using either a barbell or dumbbells. Most lifters automatically perform their incline presses on a fixed 45 degree angle bench or they set an adjustable bench to a 45. While this basic setting/movement is without a doubt an excellent exercise it is not your only option when it comes to developing your upper chest.

I’ve found that using an incline angle of only 15 degrees, up to the standard 45 degree angle, rotated systematically over several training sessions is a great way to stimulate more growth and promote more fullness and detail throughout your mid to upper chest.

This is how it works. I may start one workout with 4 or 5 sets of Incline dumbbell presses using a 15 degree incline. Then, of course, I would move on to another chest exercise or two, most likely at a flat or decline angle, to ensure I thoroughly work my entire chest. The next time I train chest and performed inclines I would probably use a 30 degree angle and so on and so forth. 

So even though each angle is an incline movement that is intended to work the upper chest, as you slightly change the degree of the incline (or decline), you’ll receive stimulation in different regions within the same muscle. Consistent rotation of angles will lead to a fuller, more developed chest, over time, much more so than if you were to train exclusively with a 45 degree angle when performing incline movements.

Now, I’m not telling you to get caught up in angles so much that you try to measure them down to the millimeter. If you would like to perform 15 degree incline presses and you’re limited to equipment that will only allow you a 10 degree incline, you’re still most likely going to achieve the same basic effect. The point is to make you aware of changing up your pressing angles on a consistent basis.

The same holds true for decline presses. For example, one training session you could choose to perform dumbbell presses on a considerably steep decline. As I’m sure you know, doing so will place greater emphasis on the lower regions of your chest and promote their development.

The next workout you could choose a moderately steep decline angle, less than the session before, and the emphasis would switch to a different area of your lower chest. 

Basically what you are doing is thoroughly working as many areas and fibers as possible throughout your entire chest. Although it’s as simple as a small tweak of the angle from one workout to the next, if done correctly, it can add up to a significant difference in the total development of your chest.

There are workouts when I eliminate flat bench presses all together. I find that the lower incline angles (around 10 to 15 degrees) effectively distribute the stimulation between the mid to upper chest muscles. I can tell from the localized soreness I feel the day after a ball busting chest day. 

I’m not telling you to eliminate flat presses all together but if you’re systematically rotating angles as suggested and during a particular workout you find that you need to skip flat presses that day, so be it. In fact, given that the upper chest is an area of which men commonly lack development, I don’t find anything wrong with prioritizing incline work over other angles at times.

You can also use this concept when you’re performing presses for your shoulders. Whenever most guys attempt to build size and strength in their shoulders they immediately turn to barbell or dumbbell presses, most often either standing or seated with their upper body at a 90 degree angle and their back against an upright pad. 

Guys choose these movements for good reason. They build size and strength quickly. However, so many men end up with shoulder injuries mostly due to using too much weight and/or not using proper form. 

And, unfortunately, you could use exactly the right weight for you along with outstanding form and still develop shoulder problems due to the toll upright pressing takes on your rotator cuffs. Trust me. I’m not speaking just from “hear, say”. 

I’ve always used excellent form and I’ve never been one who tried to impress people with the amount of weight I lift. Still, I ended up tearing my labrum (for lack of a better term it is a band or “ring” of tissue that surrounds your rotator cuff, ligaments and tendons) and I had to have surgery to repair it. 

While I’ll spare you all the horrible details let me just tell you, it’s not something you want to go through. After it’s over you struggle to lift a 2 ½ lb. dumbbell.

Since this experience I’ve done extensive research and I’ve performed some actual tests in the gym. What I’ve found is there are safer, more natural ways to perform shoulder presses all while building incredible strength and size in your deltoids, perhaps even better than the standard upright angle.

If you currently do not have any shoulder injuries I don’t necessarily recommend you abandon the standard upright, 90 degree, shoulder presses all together but I do believe every lifter should spend less time on those and more time on very high angle incline presses. 

High incline (above a 45 degree angle) presses work your delts every bit as hard as standing or seated upright presses but they place much less stress on your rotator cuffs and all of the small ligaments and tendons that are easily injured. 

My advice is to rotate through angles ranging from a 50 degree incline all the way up to 85 degrees. Go as heavy as your form will allow you to and if your form starts to slip immediately reduce the weight. Push hard to force gains in strength and muscle size but do NOT risk the health of your shoulders.

A nice secondary effect of using high angle incline presses for your shoulders is the fact that you will also get some additional stimulation in your upper chest. And, as I’ve already covered, a lot of guys could use the extra work in that area.

When it comes to choosing which movement to perform there are a certain set of no bull shit exercises. They are the exercises that produce results, give you massive gains in muscle and help you build tremendous strength. These include bench presses, squats, deadlifts, rows, pull ups, chin ups, dips and shoulder presses.

Although it would best serve you to stick to these basic movements you absolutely CAN and should play with the variables within this frame work. Systematically rotating angles for your chest and shoulder presses is a variable with the potential to deliver REAL results, quickly and safely.

I hope, at the very least, I have opened your mind to the seemingly endless possibilities of ways you can effectively train your body.

Switch it up, try something different and face new challenges. Doing so is a sure fire way to build an Alpha physique that so many men want and so few ever achieve.

– Michael “The Wheel One” Wheeler

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