Build An Awesome Chest
Adding form and muscularity to your chest means you’ll grow your pecs to display a well-defined quality of muscle. If you have read some of my other articles discussing muscle definition, you know that the difference between unknown muscle quality and well-defined muscle quality is immense.
If this distinction is not known, first imagine the heavy yet shapeless “barrel chest” that comes from doing nothing but pressing the barbell bench to create your chest. Then imagine dense, powerful, chiselled pecs with sharp detachment from your abs, arms, and shoulders. The second image portrays the well-defined muscle strength in your chest that you should be working to develop.
To achieve this goal, your chest training must be balanced with workouts that develop pectoral mass and muscularity. In other words, your chest training should include low-repetition workouts, high-intensity workouts with heavy dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell press and weighted pushups or parallel bar dips first.
Such exercises should be the basis of your mass and strength building programme when you start. As you progress you should add heavy dumbbell pullovers to your programme and decrease dumbbell bench press. The pullovers thicken your chest’s upper-middle portion while the declining bench press adds mass and power to the lower pecs.
You also have to do high repetition workouts with relatively light weight (i.e., poundage that allows you to do 12-15 reps per set) to create visible contour or shape in your chest. Such high rep exercises should be performed with flat bench dumbbell flys, incline dumbbell flys, and crossover cable or pec deck flys.
Try making high reps of incline pushups to enhance the visible separation of your lower pecs from the abs. You should also mix your basic chest builders, i.e., base and incline dumbbell bench press, dips and standard pushups, in high rep training. While these high rep exercises are necessary to shape your pecs and to burn the calories required to improve muscle definition, creating a truly “muscular” chest takes more than weight training.
High intensity interval training, involving short bursts of high-energy aerobic activity, is important for burning the subcutaneous and intramuscular fat which produces a smooth or “barrel-shaped” appearance. Unlike repetitive, slow-paced fitness that is usually limited to one movement over an extended period of time, high-intensity interval training consists of multiple fast-paced movements during one single aerobic workout.
For example, you could alternately jog and run on a treadmill in one cardio session, walk on a tread-climber, jump rope and do stationary cycling or rowing. You can do all of this aerobic training in a 20-30 minute workout by simply restricting your time too short but intense periods of about 5-10 minutes each in each exercise.
Additionally, you can adjust the speed or duration of each operation to establish intervals for each exercise. To illustrate this point, let’s say you can only execute one type of cardio exercise like running. You can still do interval training by actually combining short sprints, longer sprints and a moderate distance running into a single 20-30 minute workout.
For aerobic exercise at intervals the range possibilities are endless. The only drawback is you’re never going to be able to use “boredom” as an excuse to miss your cardio work.
When it comes to adding bulk, strength, and muscularity to your chest, the topic of “boredom” leads to a final but important point-and that point is periodisation! Although your body through initially responds to a new chest exercise with muscle growth, this reaction won’t continue as your nervous system adapts quickly to a specific training routine.
When this happens your progress slows because, with each successive training session involving the same workout, your nervous system activates fewer and fewer muscle fibres. Muscle growth eventually stops at this point and ends with fatigue or frustration. The only way to avoid this problem is to make the chest exercises differ.
Changing your workouts to prevent repetition and ensure continued success is called “periodisation.” Periodisation at its heart explains scheduled and continuous modification of your workouts over a given training period.
As applied to your chest training, you’ll soon become bored and frustrated with your lack of progress if you repeatedly do the same workout with the same exercise mix and sequence. But if you regularise your preparation, fresh exercises that force your chest to respond with more bulk, better shape and increased power will constantly challenge you.
You should never get bored with your chest exercises or struggle to improve due to training monotony as with interval exercise training. Periodization of workouts is important for the mental focus you need from your chest-building activities to enjoy continued progress.
So, train hard with balance and variety and you will surely add to your pecs impressive strength, power and muscularity.