Chest Training 101 – Jeromy Bryk

Jeromy Bryk – @Bryk_Squuaadd

For the first couple years of lifting weights I struggled heavily with building a bigger chest, despite it being my most coveted goal. I also have trained quite a few clients who want a bigger chest and are struggling to see results despite doing everything the right way (or so it appears). 

While I know don’t have the greatest chest in the world, I am most proud of the progress that I have made on this body part since I know how hard I have had to work for it! If you’re struggling to add mass to your pecs take the time to read this article and incorporate some of these tips to take your growth to a new level! 

  1. Train Heavy: The chest is a large muscle and can withstand the heavy loads needed to recruit the most muscle fibers as possible and help to stimulate growth. When I began as a men’s physique Competitor I fell into the trap of thinking barbell bench presses didn’t help to grow a big chest, as many trainers would claim. However, once I began to take Powerlifting seriously working under Zach’s programming a few summers ago, I experienced great progress in my chest with all the heavy movements prescribed, and the rest has been history for me. As a result I am an advocate of including heavy presses for anyone looking to build up their chest. Plus benching heavy is just fun, no other explanation necessary.  
  2. Train the chest from all angles:  On international chest day lifters all over the world live and die by the flat barbell, or flat dumbbell bench press and fail to see the results they desire. To build a well rounded chest we must include exercises that attack it from all angles, including incline, decline, close grip and ultra wide grip pressing as well as flies. 
  3. Learn Mind to Muscle Connection: Learning a proper mind to muscle connection can be applied to any muscle group. Knowing how to properly target the chest muscles with minimal involvement of the shoulders is a key to adding mass to the chest. One of the first corrections I make as a trainer is often the cue to pull the shoulder blades down and back in order to take them out of all chest movements, as allowing the shoulders to roll forward not only puts the shoulders in an unhealthy position, but it also causes the front delts to compensate in the pressing movement. This is why you see so many people with overdeveloped front delts and underdeveloped chests..Pull the shoulders back. 
  4. Pre Exhaust With a Fly Movement: I found this to be golden during my recent bodybuilding prep. By starting the workout with a fly movement we are stretching out the muscle fibers and establishing as much blood flow as we can while the chest is still fresh. This will also help to establish the mind to muscle connection discussed in point number 3! 
  5. Eat More: While this one isn’t a training tip necessarily, it just helps to know that if you want to gain mass you’ve gotta eat. You can’t expect to be shredded all the time and put on any significant amount of muscle in any body part, much less a stubborn body part like chest. Don’t be afraid to gain a little bit of body fat for the sake of adding more muscle to your frame. 

Training Recommendations: 

  • I typically recommend keeping compound movements (presses) primarily in the 6-12 rep range to put on mass. In addition, however I have also found that working up to heavier sets such as 3-5 reps do have their place, both from a strength aspect, and in order to recruit maximum muscle fibers needed to grow. 
  • I keep isolation movements (flies) in the 12-20 rep range to etch out the detail in the muscle. I have found that dipping into the lower rep ranges on these movements tends to defeat the purpose of the isolation exercise and turns flies into presses. 
  • I recommend training chest 2x a week. Personally I have found better success training body parts twice a week rather than the traditional 1x a week split Training. Repeated bouts with proper rest in between yields great results! 
  • If you’re going to use supersets in your chest training, (which I recommend and use frequently), i find it is very helpful to superset presses and flies together (rather than flies with flies, press with press etc). While I will do this occasionally, I have found that training the chest from 2 different planes helps to take advantage of the contraction in the press movement alternated with the stretch you get in the Fly movement and creates an unforgettable pump. 

My Go to Exercises: 

  • Barbell Bench Press: Train these Heavy and take advantage of the strength and size gains that come with this heavy compound movement. The bread and butter of chest training here! 
  • Incline Press (Barbell or Dumbbell): Far too many of us have made the mistake of not taking incline pressing seriously. Although the upper pectoral is known as the pec minor, it plays a major role in the development of the chest. Prioritize incline presses if you want a fully rounded out upper chest. 
  • Banded Chest Flies: These don’t look like much, but the squeeze is indescribable lol. Throw these in the mix to etch out some detail in your chest. 
  • Hammer Strength Inner Chest Press: This one has been a favorite of mine for years, as well as a favorite of many other bodybuilders. I used this one a lot to carve out the detail in my inner chest during my bodybuilding prep. Going slow and controlled here with relatively light weight works best here. 
  • Ultra Wide Grip Pressing: I absolutely love the wide grip Bench Press. Not only does it help to build a bigger bench, but it helps to add width to the chest, giving you that “barrel” chested look. This was a favorite of many of the golden era bodybuilders (serge nubret and Arnold just to name a few) and is rarely seen in gyms today unfortunately. I tend to favor higher reps on this movement, and only rotate them in every couple weeks as they could cause some shoulder discomfort if done too frequently/incorrectly. 

There you have it guys! Give some of these chest building tips a try! Any questions feel free to send me a Message! 

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