- Bench press is one of the most common and effective exercises performed for chest growth.
- It can be incredibly frustrating when you aren’t seeing the muscle growth you want.
- There are 4 “keys” to improving and optimizing your bench press for maximal gains.
- Proper posture, muscle activation, and weightload are the 3 physical keys to performing bench press for a bigger chest.
- Professional-grade protein supplements in your anabolic window are the 4th and final key that will help amplify your gains.
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You’ve put in the hours, you’ve been pressing, pulling, and pushing hard in the gym, but your chest just won’t grow. Let’s be real for a second…There is almost nothing more frustrating than working your a** off and not seeing the results you want. When it comes to your chest, there are a number of reasons why you might not be experiencing growth. It could be anything from bad posture, to improper activation, or poor nutrition. Let’s look at a few of those reasons and dive into some solutions that will help get you back on track towards the chest gains and growth you’ve been craving.
Bench Press is a highly effective exercise for getting a bigger chest
Time and again, studies have shown that bench press is an effective exercise for achieving increased muscle size in the major muscle groups that contribute to a prominent chest. These studies indicate a correlation between the size of your chest muscles and the maximum weight you are able to bench press. Yet, when it comes to growing your chest, pressing a higher weight won’t automatically result in growth. Although it might seem counterintuitive, there are times when the best approach to growing your chest through bench press has very little to do with the weight you are pressing.
Key #1: Less is More
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the path to a bigger chest may include temporarily reducing the weight that you press in order to emphasize proper form and muscle activation. When a heavy weight is pressed without proper focus, it can result in other muscles becoming involved in the exercise that reduces the stress and strain on the chest muscles you desire to see growth in. Reducing weight, correcting your posture and technique, and focusing on proper activation can help trigger increased growth and get you back on track towards that bigger chest you’re after. Eventually, as your chest muscles get bigger and stronger you will be able to lift heavier weights again, all the while impressing with your freshly popping pecs. Less really can be more when it comes to bench press and gaining a bigger chest. The weight you press is only one small factor in the overall process.
Key #2: Posture
Another important step to growing a bigger chest is to ensure that your posture and technique during weight bearing exercise is actually working your chest muscles. When performing bench press, many people unknowingly work muscles other than the dominant chest muscles. In particular, the deltoid muscles that make up the shoulder often kick in to support the chest muscles, taking some of that important work away from the muscles you are targeting. The most important thing to avoid posturally when performing bench press is a rounding forward of the shoulders that results in the deltoid muscles becoming engaged in the bench press motion. By shifting your posture in such a way that you isolate your chest muscles, you can quickly begin to see meaningful gains where you really want to see them.
Key #3: Activation
In line with finding the correct posture for performing bench press, it’s important to activate and isolate the chest muscles while deactivating other muscles that prevent the chest muscles from being fully worked. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most critical is simply the mind-muscle connection. A recent study shed light on the effects of mental focus when performing resistance training, and there was found to be a connection between increased focus and increased muscle hypertrophy. When performing bench press, it’s obviously critical to activate your chest muscles, and deactivate the aforementioned deltoid muscles and other arm and torso muscles that might be tempted to take over. By combining these three ideas, we come up with a strategy for performing bench press that is much more likely to be successful in achieving the desired growth and gains.
Unlocking a posturally correct and properly focused bench press designed to grow your chest:
- Begin with a manageable weight that does not compromise your posture or focus. If you notice either faltering, move down to a lower weight.
- When you lay on your back on the bench, you must keep your chest up and out.
- Your shoulders need to be pulled down and your shoulder blades need to be retracted, as if lengthening your neck and squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.
- (Steps 2 &3 will create a slight natural arch in your back and separation between your back and the bench.)
- As you press, the bar should be moving directly out from your chest and back to your chest without any movement down across your torso or up towards your face.
- Focusing on these postural cues will automatically help activate your chest muscles while deactivating your deltoids.
BONUS – Key #4: Nutrition
While there are a number of physical practical things you can do during your bench press workouts to grow a bigger chest, you cannot overlook the importance of nutrition to the muscle growth process. Protein is critical for proper hypertrophy, and one of the purest and most potent forms of protein can be found in professional-grade whey protein isolate. You want to make sure you are getting the most refined whey isolate possible, like that found in Isoflex. Isoflex protein is quick absorbing and superbly effective when it comes to fueling your body exactly when you need a quick infusion of protein. Immediately after you finish bench pressing, your chest muscles are in the perfect condition to achieve maximum hypertrophy as they enter the anabolic window. Essentially, you have a short time frame during which you are able to boost your body’s natural repair and recovery process through the consumption of high-quality protein. When you take Isoflex immediately after a workout that includes bench press, you are giving your chest the opportunity to grow bigger and stronger. Designed and manufactured to a professional grade, Isoflex is trusted by bodybuilders and athletes worldwide when they need to fuel their bodies with the best protein available. Of course, our bodies need more than just protein, and you can find a wide range of other high-quality protein powders, pre-workout, essential vitamins and minerals, weight-loss and weight-gain supplements, and more at allmaxnutrition.com.
1 Relationship of pectoralis major muscle size with bench press and bench throw performances
2 Time course for arm and chest muscle thickness changes following bench press training - PMC
3 Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training