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Heavy benching builds a big chest—that’s a saying you commonly hear around the gym. Pressing movements should form the backbone of your chest routine, and the bench press done on the flat bench is without question the king. While there’s no doubt that starting off with the bench press in your workout will result in making excellent gains, that still doesn’t mean you should rely on it exclusively. In fact, decline presses emphasize the lower chest region, and incline presses the upper chest, so not only should you be including these two presses at different angles in your workout, on occasion you should be doing them first when your muscles are fresh.
You can also substitute dumbbells for the barbell version and vice versa.
The two movements are remarkably similar, but dumbbells require better coordination, because each side is working independently. This ultimately offers a slightly greater range of motion and for some bodybuilders with shoulder problems, provide less stress.
Throw in flye movements, cable crossovers, and/or pec-deck flyes at the end of your workout. These are isolation exercises, good for targeting the chest but won’t force you to go too heavy unless, with good form, you’re really looking to pack on the size with heavy weights.
Beginners can do 2-3 chest exercises of 2-3 working sets (which means, don’t count your warm-ups) of 10—15 reps. Experienced bodybuilders can do 4-5 total exercises, starting with various angled presses using a variety of equipment (barbell, dumbbells, machines) for 3-4 working sets. Heavy sets should go down to 6-8 reps. Finish up with the isolation exercises (choose 1-2) with a relatively lighter weight, doing three sets of 10-12 reps.
Keys to building size and strength in your chest are to challenge yourself with weights that keep the reps on the lower end early in your workout when your strength is high (after warming up), hitting your pecs from a variety of angles, and pumping through those last isolation movements until you’ve given it your all.
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