The chest is an important muscle group when it comes to aesthetics. Having a strong and thick chest is a must for anybody looking to build an impressive physique. However, some people have difficulty recruiting the chest muscles, and usually use mostly deltoid and triceps power during pushing exercises such as the bench press. With a few adjustment this can change.
1. Start doing dips
Dips are one of the best exercises for the chest. Most people who can’t recruit their chest during the bench press are surprised to find out that during dips they are able to finally activate this precious muscle group.
The bottom of the dip is highly dependent on pectoral strength. Also, the range of motion is large and the stretch is phenomenal, so to speak. There is no need to do the so called chest dips. Just stick to the classic variation.
Don’t cheat, but also don’t go too low in order to avoid damaging your shoulders. Not everybody can handle dips.
Some people who lack the flexibility may have to stay away from the exercise.
Note: The guys in the picture were/are on steroids. We don’t claim that you will build similar chest size by doing dips. A more realistic example would be someone like Al Kavaldo.
Related article: How To Make The Dip Your Primary Chest Exercise
2. Do push-ups on Olympic rings
Doing push-ups on Olympic rings is one of the greatest chest workouts you can have at home or anywhere. The ring push-up sort of mimics the dumbbell bench press since both arms have to work independently and have to stabilize a lot of the weight.
When doing the exercise bring your hands close at the top. This exercise is harder than it looks and don’t be surprised, if the next day your chest is shut down. Before attempting advanced variations master the basics in order to avoid injuries.
3. Use dumbbells for your bench press
Many people report improved chest activation after replacing the barbell with dumbbells. The idea is that the dumbbells allow you find the perfect grip width and also allow you to sort of squeeze your arms together.
Another important factor is related to the ego. A lot of the problems seen with the bench press are caused by the numbers mania. Everybody wants to know how much you bench press. That’s why people people always try to put up as much weight as they possibly can. As a result they cheat and/or rely on their naturally stronger muscles. If the chest is not part of the club, it suffers. The dumbbell bench press solves this problem because nobody really cares how much you dumbbell press. Well, at least nobody shouldn’t.
4. Imagine that you’re squeezing a spring between your hands
When performing the bench press or push-ups, you can activate the chest by imaging bringing your arm together without actually doing so (it would be impossible without letting the bar crash on your face). This will force the chest to exert much more force when doing even simple push-ups. For more on how to activate your chest during the bench press visit this link.
5. Lower the weight
Remember that you’re not saving the world with your lifting efforts. You’re doing it for yourself and there is no need to damage your body in the process. It’s better to lower the weight and do the exercises properly. Even if you have to lift really light weights such as 95 lbs or 135 lbs – do it! Quality over quantity – any day. Those who care about how much you bench should mind their own business. It’s just an exercise – nothing more!
6. Train the chest more frequently
If you’re trying to get good at something, upping the frequency can help. This does not meat that you should be doing chest exercises three times a day. It means that maybe you can add a couple of sets to each workout.
It also helps, if you do the pushing exercises when you are still fresh. For example, if your day calls for squats, bench press and pull-ups – do the bench press first. Yes, the other lifts will suffer but priorities are to be treated as such. Those boobs ain’t gonna grow by themselves.
7. Be realistic!
No matter what kind of exercises you do, your biggest limitation as a natural bodybuilder is the fact that your body does not produce the hormones needed for the physiques you see in magazines. You can build a decent chest naturally, but if you think you can have 48 inch chest with striations on it – think again cause it ain’t happening naturally.