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The Dragon Slayer Speaks

Rich Gaspari - the dragon slayer
Bringing up a lagging Chest

Many beginners think the best way to get a great chest is to be a great bench presser. That is far from the truth if your goal is to have a well developed, all-around great chest.

In the beginning, the first thing I did was of course concentrate on getting my bench up. I felt that with a great bench, I would have an Arnold chest for sure! As I started to learn more, I found it took different exercises to really get a well-rounded chest. That meant great proportional development of the lower to upper chest, as well as having the inner and outer chest developed proportionally too. A chest like that is truly impressive to behold.What I have seen even with myself in my younger years is that doing just a lot of bench presses causes you to develop the 'Droopy Chest Syndrome.' This is a chest that has way too much development in the lower part, and not enough in the upper region. It almost looks like breasts! A great chest is not looking like you need a support bra, it's a chest that looks like you are wearing a Roman Centurian's chest plate.

It all comes down to working out right, not just training hard with no strategy. Besides doing a variety of exercises to develop a well rounded chest, it's equally important to do the exercises properly. Doing the exercises with proper form will not only allow you to stress the target muscle fibers to the max, it will also help you prevent the various injuries that are never too far around the corner for the careless.

The most important form tip to keep in mind with any chest exercise is to stick your chest out by pinching your shoulder blades together before starting the set. This makes your pecs stick out past your shoulders so they won't be able to take over. What so many people do is throw their shoulder forward, making you hit less chest and more front delts. This is probably the one form error that keeps most guys from ever building a great chest. Once you have that part of the form down, think about each rep as squeezing and stretching your pecs. This ensures a nice contraction and a good stretch, both of which are vital components to stimulating the muscle fibers of the chest and spurring growth. It takes practice, and you will have to use lighter weights to get the right form and feeling in the muscle down pat. But practice makes perfect, and in this case perfect practice is what will ultimately give you perfectly developed chest you want.

Variety is also key, as you need to work the chest from various angles. A well developed chest requires you do compound or multi-joint mass building movements along with isolation movements. This means doing some form of pressing motion as well as doing some form of flye movement.

As I said earlier, the chest seems to develop easier in the lower part more than the upper part of the overall pecs when doing more flat bench or flat flye movements, so I have always concentrated on the upper chest first to get that well balanced chest. Some movements of the upper chest are exercises on an incline bench, which I do more on a 60-degree angle as opposed to a 45-degree angle like most people do. For me the higher incline seems to hit my upper chest better.

Another great movement for upper development, believe it or not, is the reverse grip bench press. Research has actually shown that doing a reverse grip bench press recruited more upper chest than flat bench. It also gives you a totally different feel, so give it a try.

There are also advanced techniques in developing the hest that I have found deliver excellent results. One advanced technique is pre-exhaust, where you do an Isolation exercise like a flye supersetted with a compound movement like a bench press or incline press. In doing this, the isolation exercise fatigues the stronger chest muscle before the smaller triceps and shoulders fatigue, allowing you to train the chest to total failure. Too many people have problems where their triceps or front delts seem to fatigue first, giving those body parts great development with the chest lagging behind.

Lately I have used another advanced technique called linear variable resistance training. Basically what is done is either a heavy chain or elastic bands are attached to each end of the bar on a pressing movement. What this does is it makes the weights progressively heavier as you get closer to the top of the rep. This puts more resistance on the muscle, in turn recruiting more muscle fiber; which potentially means more growth. Give it a try and see the results for yourself! I was skeptical about these at first, but now I love them!

So those are some of my tips in developing a great chest. Here's a sample workout I would do to blitz the chest to new growth!

Chest workout:

Always warm-up with light weights the first couple of sets or do some push-ups, doing 2 sets of 20 to 25 reps to warm up.

Reverse Grip Bench Press using Chains on each side:

5 sets of 15, 12, 10, 8 and 8

Pec Dec or Machine Flye:

3 sets of 10-8-8

Incline Dumbbell Press:

4 sets of 12-10-8-8 Increase weights each set

Dumbbell Incline Flye:

3 sets of 10-8-8

Weighted Dips or Decline Press:

4 sets of 12-10-8-8

Well there you have it! Give my chest training techniques a try and let me know how it works.

Until next time, Train Hard my friends!

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