1. Do rows
Bent over and dumbbell rows build the upper back muscles, keeping them in balance with your pecs. Your chest won’t grow if the body senses imbalance, so do as much work for your back as for your front side.
2. Do Suspended Flyes
Forget lying on the bench. Use gymnastics rings or a suspension trainer like the TRX and perform a flye motion. Moving your body weight through space rather than moving dumbbells activates more pec fibers.
3. Use less of an angle
Most guys do incline or decline presses at too steep an angle, transferring the stress of the exercise to their front delts and, worse, their shoulder joints. Use a shallower angle of 20–25 degrees to work the pecs more safely and directly —- Did you know: Pectoralis comes from the Latin word pectus, which means chest or heart and soul.
Boost Your Power
Just looking at a barbell loaded with heavy weights can be intimidating. So much so that you might psych yourself out of a set before you even attempt it, dooming yourself to failure. Instead, load the bar with smaller weight plates. Instead of the 45s, use 25s, 10s, and five-pound plates. Sure, it’s less economical than loading the big wheels, but your brain won’t register the weight as being the same. Because it looks lighter it will feel that way when you attempt the lift, giving you the mental edge you need to nail the set or even hit a new max.
Pec Number of the Day: 4.2 Average bench-press max increase (in pounds) when male lifters were observed by peers versus lifting alone.
Roundtable Perfect Form
Our expert panel tells you what mistakes to avoid.
“You’re doing it wrong.” It’s the last thing you want to hear in the gym, but chances are it’s true. See if you’re making these mistakes.
➔ “Jerking the bar off the ground with your arms on power cleans. The bar ends up floating out away from your body and causing lower-back injury. Start with your hips below your shoulders, chest up, and push through the feet.”
Joe Kenn Strength coach for the Carolina Panthers, www.bighousepower.com
➔ “Lowering your body too quickly to the floor on a lunge and letting your chest fall forward. This results in bad posture and can strain the lead leg.”
Clay Birwel, trainer in new York City, www.highperformancenyc.com
➔ “Not fully extending the arms on a pull-up. This is pure cheating and won’t help you get better at full range pull-ups. Start every rep from a dead hang.”
Steve Cotter, President of the international Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, www.ikff.net