Seeing a plateau on your chest gains? Tried different methods but no luck? Well it’s time to change it up. Your body adapts very quickly to training methods so adaptations stop when you stop stimulations. 

When chest training, similar to training other areas, you need to remember two elements: training intensity and time-under-tension (also known as TUT). These factors contribute to the breakdown and re-build of muscle fibers so they grow back bigger and stronger.  

A few notes on warm-up. First, the shoulder joint must be well-lubricated and must move smoothly in the joint capsule. Personally, I like to perform band-dislocations to slightly increase the range of motion. Pulling the band for slight tension, move the shoulder into extension then behind the head and down your back for flexion. 

Secondly, scapular retraction is CRITICAL for the stretch in the chest during training. With the same band, I like to perform banded face-pulls to activate the upper back. Attach the band to a post and with two hands, pull the band towards your face while squeezing the shoulder blades together. 

Now that warm-up has been completed, we can begin the ULTIMATE chest training. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond for tips on training chest. 

1.) Heavy flat barbell bench press

One of my favourite chest training exercises. With the barbell in use you are able to jack up the intensity and go heavy. This is your first movement when you’re training. You are fresh. You MUST go heavy. The key point is we are targeting horizontal strength. Key point is to keep the bar in-line with the chest – NOT the shoulders. During the movement, make sure you have your shoulder blades pinched together for scapular retraction. This makes a huge difference for chest engagement. You are aiming to lift approximately 90% of your 1RM. 

  1. a. Incline dumbbell press

Second section is our first superset. The first movement is an incline (about 45 degrees) dumbbell chest press. This will be targeting mainly our chest. We should be relatively fresh because this is only our second movement so you are able to lift relatively heavy; around 80-90% of your 1RM. Make sure you keep the dumbbell and arm in-line with your chest UPWARDS (because you’re on an incline).   

  1. b. Banded push-ups

Immediately perform banded push-ups. You will need to wrap the bands around your chest using a monster band. You should be quite gassed from the incline presses so the intensity here is toned down. The band allows you to work on the top of the press where the band is stretched. The main idea here is to extend the time-under-tension from the incline chest press. 

Ask your personal trainer in Richmond for their best supersets on chest. 

  1. a. Dips

With exhaustion from the previous exercises, you need to be aware of your shoulder and the tension it holds. Dips have its risks because you are putting your shoulder into extension. You do NOT want to injure yourself. With fatigue setting in, the intensity of this movement is relatively high – even though it is performed with bodyweight (add weight if you choose). You are targeting both the upper and lower chest at a moderate intensity. 

  1. b. Smith machine closed-grip flat chest press

The idea is to perform this immediately after the dips. It is understandable that you may need a minute or so in between; remember fatigue is setting in but moderate intensity still must be kept. With this movement you are gripping the bar with your hands approximately 12 inches apart. It is critical that you keep your elbows tucked in. The reason is you want to target the middle part of the chest, rather than using your shoulders. 

  1. Cable flies 

At this point your chest (and your shoulders) is pretty tired, which is completely okay. Now we are able to decrease the intensity and weight in order to accommodate fatigue. Same principles apply with the cable fly: scapular retraction, SQUEEZE your shoulders together to get the stretch. You can lower the weight but you need to increase the repetitions in order to lengthen the time-under-tension. 

As you have noticed, I did not prescribe any repetitions or sets in this article. I want you to find what works for you, but ensure that the principles still apply. Reach out to your personal trainer in Richmond for a chest training program. 

Until next time, 

Coach Marco 

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