Improving Bench Press And Increasing Chest Size

Get Stacked! 8 Weeks to a Bigger and Badder Chest By Terry Goodlad

Increase Chest SizeYou know the look. They sweep down from your clavicles and front deltoids and attach to your lower ribcage. When they are swollen and full there is little else more satisfying to look at for a bodybuilder. A well-developed chest looks incredible from almost any angle, as it frames up your entire upper body. Bad pecs (an under-developed chest) make everything look out of proportion and weak pecs are usually bad pecs. While increasing absolute brute strength and increasing size are not always synonymous, it is very possible to get stronger while focusing on adding size to your chest. It's going to take some time, 8 weeks is a good start, but the principles you learn here you can use for the rest of your life and along the way, make your chest your best body part. It will take a lot of concentration, and when you enter the gym to train you will have to leave your ego at the door because this program is all about exercise quality and not quantity of weight on the bar. It's all about building quality muscle, not winning imaginary bench press contests in the gym. More importantly, it's about walking away 8 weeks from now with your friends asking you how you did it, how you made your chest look so full and thick in such a short period of time. Before you do a thing there are some basic principles to memorize and follow religiously.
  • Warm-up thoroughly before you train to avoid injury and allow for maximum contractions while training. A cold or unprepared muscle will not contract to its full capability.
  • When you pick a weight for your first set of warm-ups, choose something that is embarrassingly light. Anything more will be too heavy. Trust me, if you do them the right way you will get more than enough stimulation.
  • DO NOT LIFT WEIGHTS, but rather you need to understand that you are supposed to stretch and contract the group of muscles you are training. Once you can stretch and contract your chest while keeping tension on it the whole time (never letting it go relaxed), you just add resistance to make the contractions harder. The amount of weight becomes unimportant, how hard you can contract your muscles is how you measure your progress, that along with the results you see in the mirror.
  • Don't overstretch your chest at the bottom of the movement. When you go down too far the tension comes off your chest and moves more to your front deltoids, which in turn will do most of the work when the contraction begins. You should feel more pressure on your pecs than your front delts and if you don't then you are going down too far. It's better to not go far enough than to go too far, so be conservative on the depth you use on all your chest exercises. The depth you use will change as you become warmer through the workout and as your flexibility increases, so as you become more flexible you can stretch further on each exercise. Remember, it's not a contest to see who can go deeper or be more flexible, it's a workout. So listen to your body and realize that you are different than the next guy. Be a leader, not a follower, and do what works for you. Let him try to do what you do and mess up his chest development rather than you trying to stretch as far as him and end up training your delts instead of your chest.
  • Keep tension on your chest muscles for the entire movement. Control the stretch the whole way down and control the contraction keeping the tension as high as possible right through to the end of the movement, only releasing enough tension for the weight to be slowly lowered again.
  • When you do any exercise, keep all your muscles tight. Hands grip the bar tight, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, chest, back. Keep your entire body tight so the supporting muscles give you a solid base and you can contract your chest much harder. Try a weight doing this, then go back and do it the old way and you will see how much lighter the weight feels and how many more reps you can get with it when your supporting muscles are all tight. Outside of the answer to the burning (or frying, perhaps) question of which superstar is really the psychopathic killer, Titus or Ryan, this is one of the best kept secrets in the sport of bodybuilding.
  • Keep control of the resistance through the entire movement, but pay really close attention to the start and end of the movement as these are the times when the tension on your chest can be diverted to other muscle groups due to a lack of concentration and those other muscle groups will end up bearing most of the resistance from that point forward, therefore getting most of the benefit, until you regain control of your chest muscles. If you have really well developed and strong front delts and/or triceps but a weak and underdeveloped chest then you are not a genetic freak, you have form and muscle control problems that are very easy to solve if you work at it and can keep your ego in check to train your chest.
  • As always, your muscles grow after you stimulate them and rest. Training more than once a week if you are training really hard is too much if you are a drug-free bodybuilder. It may even be too much if you are juiced to the nuts. You need time to recover and repair your body after you train. If you follow this program for your chest days and you are not making progress, you are either not eating enough of the right things, not doing the exercises the described way, or you are not spending enough time recovering.
  • If you grow a noticeably bigger chest after you follow this program the first time that means you trained your body rather than your ego, you rested and ate enough to grow, and you can now step to the front of the class because you have the discipline, work ethic, and brains to be a bodybuilder.
  • Week One and Two Warm up with one set of 30 pushups on the floor with good form, going slowly, same speed up and same speed down. Do the first 10 pushups narrow, then 10 pushups shoulder width, and lastly 10 pushups wide. Stretch your chest for about 5 minutes from various angles after the pushups.
    Exercise Sets Reps
    Cable Crossover 3 12
    (In control, do these with an even cadence, same speed up, same speed down, but a little quicker to get a pumping feeling so you can visualize you are pumping them full of blood. Stay lighter on these but rest very little between sets.)
    Flat Dumbbell Bench 3 10
    (Do these slowly with a peak contraction you hold for 2 seconds at the top of each rep.)
    Decline Dumbbell Bench 3 10
    (Use the same training method as with the flat dumbbell bench.)
    Dumbbell Pullovers 3 10
    (Keep your elbows bent and make sure to contract your pecs through the whole movement by visualizing pulling the dumbbell back over your face with your chest rather than your arms or back. Do a peak contraction of your pecs at the end of the movement for about 2 seconds each rep.)
    Stretch your chest from a wide variety of angles for about 10 minutes after your workout. Week Three, Four, Five, and Six Warm up the exact same way as weeks one and two. Make sure and change the exercises and change the order of the exercises each week so that no two weeks look the same. You can choose from this listing.
    Exercise Sets Reps
    Pec Deck or Cable Crossover 3 8
    Incline Dumbbell Bench or Incline Bench Press Machine 3 10
    Decline Dumbbell Bench or Decline Bench Press Machine 3 10
    Dumbbell Pullovers or Flat Dumbbell Flys 3 10
    Week Seven Warm up the exact same way as all previous weeks. All sets of 15 reps are performed with 5 reps slow, holding the contraction for 2 seconds, the next 5 reps fast in a pumping motion, then the last 5 reps slow holding the contraction again.
    Exercise Sets Reps
    Decline Dumbbell Press 3 15
    Incline Bench Press Machine 3 15
    Flat Bench Press Machine 3 15
    Cable Crossovers 2 15
    Week Eight Warm up the exact same way as all previous weeks. These are all supersets so each exercise is performed back to back with no rest in between. You can rest at the end of each superset so you have the strength to contract hard for the next set.
    Exercise Sets Reps
    Decline Bench Press Machine and Pushups 3 8
    Incline Bench Press and Dumbbell Pullovers 3 8
    Follow this program diligently and you'll be amazed at the difference that focused, targeted chest work can make for your physique and your presentation. Now get to work!