How to Build Massive Pectoral Muscles

One of the most frequently asked questions by readers is, "how do I build an impressive chest?" For the uninitiated (in bodybuilding lingo), pectoral muscles also known as pecs are the muscles of the chest.

Most men desire a powerful, button popping chest! Six pack abs are impressive and so are biceps but the thing that stands out first, especially to the women you want to attract, is the chest.

A well built chest accords you high status and an authoritative air. The subconscious pre-selection mechanism in the opposite sex responds extremely well to impressive pecs, marking you as a suitable breeder and provider!

But it's not like I needed to convince you of that, so let's get down to business...

How do you build your pecs?

There are several different exercises you can use to develop a chest but I'll give you the three most effective exercises. Here they are:

1. Flat Bench Press

This is the 'king' of gym exercises for men, if you will. It's a compound exercise because it recruits other adjacent muscles like the shoulders and triceps. Lying down on a bench press machine, plant your feet firmly on the ground, squeeze your shoulder blades together and rest them on the bench. 

There should be three parts of your body touching the bench while completing this exercise. Your glutes, shoulder blades, and your head, with a slight arch in your lower back, lifting it off the bench slightly. By retracting your shoulder blades, you open up your chest cavity, and in doing, you isolate the tension of the weight solely in your pecs, and protect your shoulders from injury.  

Use an appropriate weight and then lower the bar gradually onto your chest (just barely touching) and lift it up gradually. You should aim to lift it up in short, quick (but not jerky) movement and lower it much more slowly. The lowering part is often referred to as the negative and is the part where the most muscle stimulation occurs. Take your time on this to get the most out of it.

Do not raise your feet and cross them as you lift the weight. Keep them planted firmly on the floor.

The other advantage to doing slow negatives is that you effectively simulate lifting a much heavier weight with only a light weight. This reduces the stress on your joints, further reducing the likelihood of injury. I learned this from the great Frank Zane when I trained with him at his home in San Diego.

Aim to do about 3 or 4 sets using the 'pyramid'. Start with light weights and high reps and then move up in weight while reducing the reps. Do this until you get to a weight where you can only do one or two sets using proper form.

Occasionally switch this up and start with the highest possible weight you can do. After warming up properly of course! One last note about the flat bench: When done properly it should feel as if you are pushing your back into the bench, rather than pushing the weight upwards.

2. Incline Bench

This is also another core exercise for the chest and works the upper chest. A well built upper chest should jut out like a dashboard and clearly delineate the neck line.

I believe a guy named Serge Nubret built the most impressive upper chest of all time. Only body building fans will know him but you can Google him and look at his upper chest! He was even better than Arnold in this one respect!

Use an incline bench press for this. Most gyms have an adjustable one, which you should set to about 45 degrees.

The correct form for this exercise is a little tricky and takes some practice. When you do it right your arms should also be more inclined (as opposed to pushing up straight forward) and you should make sure you feel the stress in the pecs.

As with flat bench, retract your shoulder blades, get a slight arch in your back, and open up your chest. Putting the tension right on the pectoral fibers. 

Focus on contracting the muscle, more than you focus on just moving the weight up and down. You will get a far better reaction and will be less prone to injury. 

Pushing too much forward ends up working the shoulders and not the chest.

It is useful to have someone spot you the first few times.

Also note that you will generally be able to do slightly less weight on this than on the flat bench.

3. Wide Grip Dips

This exercise builds the lower chest while also exercising the triceps indirectly. It basically has the same effect as using a decline bench press, but I think it is more effective, more enjoyable, and manlier! I personally dislike the decline bench position because it makes me dizzy.

Arnold's Bodybuilding Encyclopedia explains the motion best so I'll just recap what it states:

1) Hold yourself at arm's length above the bars

2) Then, lower yourself slowly as far as you can go. From the bottom, press back up to the starting position, tensing the pectorals at the top.

In this movement, the further forward you lean, the more chest you involve so try crossing your feet behind your glutes (buttocks), which will shift your center of gravity forward and hit the pectorals harder.

A few additional notes about building pectoral muscles

• You can perform the first two exercises described (Flat Bench and Incline Bench) using Dumbbells. Dumbbells produce the same effect but force you to balance even more. Machines aren't nearly as effective for balance and are better used for isolation exercises. A free barbell is better than machines for balances but not quite as effective as dumbbells.

• Occasionally use dumbbells for variety, and to improve your balance. To ensure that your stronger side (the right side if you are right-handed, and left if you are left-handed) doesn't end up bigger than your weaker side.

• There are two basic classes of exercises for the chest. "Presses" and "Flies". As the name suggests, presses involve a pressing movement and are much more effective at building pectoral muscles. They are also more difficult.

• Flies involve a pulling motion toward the chest as in a bear hug. They are best described as a refinement exercise. They are simple to execute and will really help your chest get wide and popping! 

That's really all there is to building pectoral muscles. Now get up and get to work!

"Pectoral Fly Weightlifting Exercise".

"Build a Big Chest: The Best Chest Workout for Mass".

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