The chest is one of the most difficult muscle groups to train and despite several attempts, many of us end up with no impressive gains in the chest area, despite following everything by the book. But mind you, a well-sculpted chest is more than just lifting heavy weights. It is a perfect balance of technique and knowledge. Read on to understand what exactly you need to stop doing for visible pec-tastic results
Lack of knowledge
Many of us might be training hard, but we don’t really know what we are supposed to be working on. Especially in the case of chest muscles, the area is larger than the other muscles and hence this might lead to confusion about where the chest begins and ends. The first and most important fact you need to know is that the chest is made up of two muscles- the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor-which are located one on top of the other.
The muscles start at the clavicle and cover the sternum and the armpit area. The chest muscles have three main functions; first is the sidearm pitching motion, second is the ability to move your arm up and down, and third is to perform the wrestling motion with the arm. No matter what trainer you’ve signed up for there are just two exercises that will get you the desired results for your chest, and these are the bench press and flyes.
Now that we know what exercises work for the chest, the next blunder many of us commit is overtraining. Chest being the focus for many, we tend to train the chest with a higher intensity and at a higher frequency than any other body part. But you shouldn’t be training more than 3 days with a rest period of 4 days. This is because our muscles grow and repair when they are at rest, and not when you are pumping weights. You need to balance out your workout schedule by focussing on your body as a whole and not just the chest.
Lifting Your Butt Off The Bench
Many biggies of benching swear by the move of lifting your butt off the bench, but if you want your pecs to stand out then it’s not something that we’d suggest. Raising your hips off the bench may not only prove injurious, but it turns into more of a decline press. The decline press works on the lower pecs and is advantageous for bodybuilders who are looking at setting records for lifting heavy. But if you want to stress on your middle pecs and sculpt your chest to precision, then you better keep your hips glued to the bench. If the weight feels too heavy, then you can always drive the strain through your feet by keeping your hips and glutes pressed against the bench.
Going too low
There’s nothing wrong with getting the bar all the way down to the chest, but this totally depends on the type of physique you have and whether you are doing a decline or incline bench press. With declines, the bar should tap your lower pecs and not your neck, and with inclines, it should come down high on the chest. Going too low will not only hamper growth but will also cause potential injury, as it will take tension off the chest and place it on the shoulders. If you want to thicken your chest then you need to feel the burn in your chest instead of your shoulders.
Always benching first
Although this is the go-to move to build a bigger and stronger chest, if the bench press has always been the first exercise on your workout schedule then this could be the reason why you probably feel super tired at the end of every session. If you are doing inclines after flat benching, then your upper pecs are going to start lagging behind due to the decrease in your energy levels. What you could do instead is alternate the inclines with the declines first in your workout. This way you can give time and energy to both and see results faster. After all, the only way to build muscles is not falling trap to routines.
Pushing up with shoulders
Another move that many beginners and experienced lifters are guilty of is pushing your shoulders in the direction of a chest press. This takes a lot of tension off the chest and puts it in the anterior deltoids, giving your shoulders a good workout but leaving your chest high and dry. What you can do to avoid this is consciously keep your scapula pinned to the bench throughout the entire lift. Picture your chest moving towards the press, keeping your shoulders stationary. This might take some time getting used to if you’ve become accustomed to pushing your shoulders, but once you get a hang of it you will see and feel the difference.
Not Enough Rest
By virtue of being one of the larger muscles in the body, the chest will require an equal amount of energy. So if you’ve been working out on your chest 3 days in a week, then you need to get the same amount of rest or more. Not getting enough sleep could be a major contributing factor as to why you are not seeing any lift in your pecs. Training can only help you to an extent of breaking down the muscle tissue so it can grow stronger and bigger. In order for the real magic to happen and for the muscles to recover, you need tons of rest and enough nutrition.