How To Build Chest Muscle The Quick And Proper Way
First , lets have a look at the chest muscles & how they work. By understanding and knowing that, it will be easier to create a routine workout.
Looking at the attached picture, the chest muscles are divide into two parts:
1. Pectoralis (Peck) Major – this is a thick, fan-shaped muscle located at the chest part of your body.
2. Pectoralis (Peck) Minor – this is a thin, triangular-shaped muscle located underneath of the peck major
Their function is to control the movement of your arms towards to front of your body.
Which part of the pecks works most is based on the angle of your arms coming across to centre of the rib cage.
You may have heard in the gym or from your Personal Trainer about incline/decline/flat bench press and each one of these workouts will hit a certain part of your chest muscles.
Incline workout (not higher than 35 degree) will mostly hit the top part of your chest muscles, flat workout (lying on your back) will mostly hit the centre while the decline workout will hit the lower part of the chest muscle giving the bottom definition which separates the chest from the stomach muscles (abs).
The way this muscle is defined on your body, is mostly based on the type of workout you do. You can even tell by looking at a person what’s the most exercise he performs while working the chest.
The chest muscle should look almost flat and wide, creating a frontal trapeze having a separation line in the centre (sternum) and lifted at the bottom (abs).
Many gym goers, concentrate on the flat bench press, either using a bar-bell or dumb-bells creating a bulk in the centre of the chest above the nipple line, but ignore the other exercises as the incline or decline chest workouts giving them a less defined but bulky appearance.
Chest exercises can be done two way:
1. Single joint exercise – peck deck machine, dumb-bells flies.
These workouts tends to isolates the chest muscles but also using the front deltoid slightly to perform the workout.
2. Multiple joint exercise – Incline/Flat/Decline Bench press (dumb-bells or bar-bell), machine bench press.
These are basic workouts for the chest but also using the front deltoid and the triceps to perform the exercise (one of the reason is not recommended to work the triceps in the same day).
Saying that, each method has its impact on the chest definition listed below:
a. Dumb-Bell Flies (highly recommended by myself) gives the trapeze definition of the chest working mostly the outer part close to the arm (humerus)
b. Peck Deck Machine – works very well on the inner part of the chest (sternum) if the full range of motion is used (bringing the elbows very close together)
c. Cable Flies – same as the Dumb-Bells Flies but also hitting the inner part of the chest if the palms are brought very close together or even crossed in the front of the body. Al;so pay attention to the angle at which you are bringing the arms across the body (high angle -> top part, lower angle -> bottom part, etc…)
d. Bar-Bell / Dumb-Bells Press – myself, I prefer the dumb-bells as it gives a balance workout for both sides (arms & chest) but sometimes due to weight restriction, you may need to use the bar-bell 🙂 , just make sure your body is not trying to cheat your workout (leaning on one side, one arm higher than the other, etc).
This exercise can be done in incline/flat/decline position and each one has its impact on the definition of your chest muscles. Most of the times, the weight you use in the flat bench position, can not be used for incline or decline bench workout. The reason is because, less muscle fibres are activated due to the angle the arms coming across to the front part of the body which in turn its a normal outcome 🙂
So, what’s the best way to work-out the chest muscles and how?
My advice is to perform each type of exercise when working the chest. Do not ignore the incline or decline workout, as many do.
Also, just because you might not like the machines, do not ignore the peck deck or the cable workouts.
The workout should be done either in one set (lower reps (3-8), more weight) or 3-4 sets (lower weight, more reps (8-12)). I prefer the second option due to equipment restriction in the gym, especially when busy. Break between sets should be anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes, but not longer than 2 minutes. You are not there to socialise 🙂
But what about weight?
The weight should be based on the sets type you choose to do using the maximum count. The last 2 reps should require the most effort to be executed, keeping in mind the body shape and completing the full range of motion required.
The way I do, if I select the second set type and I get to 12 reps but I can still do more, I do not count it as a set. Instead, I select heavier weights, take a break for about 3-4 minutes, giving a chance to the muscle to recover and start again.
Yes, it requires discipline, but you don’t want just results, you want GREAT results and that’s what makes the difference between a chest workout and a proper chest workout, plus it takes a shorter time to get the definition you want.
How long and how many days should I workout the chest?
Any workout in the gym should not last more than 1 (one) hour. That doesn’t include the socialising or the jacuzzi 🙂 and if your chest workout routine its done quicker, you can include some biceps exercises, but of course, leave it at the end as it’s a very small muscle and gets depleted of glycogen very fast.
As regarding days, 1 or 2 days per week should be more than enough, but make sure muscle sourness is already gone and you are giving 2-3 days recovery time in-between.
Should I take protein supplements?
That depends on your diet. Chest muscles are large and require a lot of proteins to maintain and help with recovery after a workout. Because our bodies does not store proteins as it does with carbs or fat, your diet should include enough to aid with recovery and maintenance of your muscles mass.
For strength & power I would recommend 1.4-1.8g per body weight or even higher and it’s mostly based on the individual.
Taking too much proteins is not harmful for the body but it has no advantages either as extra intake is not converted into muscles.
Having a low intake of proteins slows down muscles growth and even muscles loss so if you want to achieve GREAT results, do take that in consideration.
Hope this article answer some question you may have and don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything we haven’t covered.
Louie – 086 898 1808
Level 4 Personal Trainer