The Quest for a Big Chest
Just about every guy that goes to the gym will tell you one of his goals is to build a bigger chest, these same guys unfortunately are going about their chest workouts in a way that will not allow them to get the results they want.
The decline dumbbell fly, the cable crossover, the plate pinching press…
None of these exercises will develop the full, thick upper chest that so few have, yet many desire.
When it comes to building an impressive chest, or any muscle group for that matter there are a few key points that need to be considered including
The targeted muscle group
The decline fly is an isolation exercise for the chest that works the outside portion of the lower chest. Regardless of how heavy or how many reps you do on an isolation exercise like this you’ll never build the size you’re after because you’re targeting the muscle incorrectly.
The progressive overload
In order to build both size and strength a muscle, in this case the chest, must be subject to progressive overload. Progressive overload (an increase in tension on the muscle) is applied by gradually increasing the weight being lifted.
A push-up and a barbell bench press are both chest exercises, however the bench press is far more effective because more and more weight can be added to the bar, with bodyweight exercises such as the push-up (even when weighted) the same tension can’t be replicated.
The rep range utilized (aka. Is it practical to go heavy?)
In order to grow big we need to lift big. Isolation exercises (which we’ve discussed already aren’t particularly effective) can be downright dangerous when performed with heavy weight in the low rep range.
For example, both a weighted dip and an incline dumbbell press can safely be performed in this low rep range with heavy weight, but when compared to a dumbbell fly it’s that much harder to maintain strict form – which in turn leads to potential injury and poor form.
Build Upper Chest Size & Strength with the Incline Barbell Bench Press
The barbell bench press is the ultimate mass builder for the chest, with emphasis placed on the upper chest giving it that 'full' look.
3 Reasons Why the Incline Barbell Bench Press is the Most Effective Chest Exercise
The Incline Barbell Bench Press Targets the Upper Chest
When it comes to building an aesthetic chest the upper portion of the chest, targeted by performing incline presses is king.
A large upper chest gives the full, pumped chest look that most guys are after. Meanwhile too much work on the decline bench can lead to a droopy looking chest due too much lower chest development.
The Incline Barbell Bench Press is Safe For Heavy Lifting
Unlike exercises such as the fly and lateral raise which are downright dangerous to perform at heavy weight as keeping correct form is near impossible the incline barbell bench press is not a problem.
Provided you have good form, a spotter or the rails set up correctly in a power rack you're good to go!
There's Endless Progression With the Incline Barbell Bench Press
6 years ago I struggled to bench press an olympic barbell without any weight on it.
Today my incline barbell bench press is continuing to progress in weight while my chest continues to grow.
This is not an exercise you need to 'cycle in and out of your routine' like fitness magazines and personal trainers tell you - the incline barbell bench press is, in my mind undoubtedly the best bang for your buck chest exercise that you can continue to progress on.
How To Incline Bench Press Correctly
Set up an incline bench in front of a weight rack, making sure you adjust the incline to a comfortable position. The back of the bench should be facing the weight stack.
Sit on the bench placing your back firmly against the backrest.
Using an overhand grip, grasp the bar with your hands spaced about twice your shoulder width apart.
Lift the bar from the rack by pushing up with your chest muscles and hold it straight over your chest with your arms fully extended. This is the start position.
As you inhale, lower the barbell slowly until it touches your upper chest.
Hold for a count of one while squeezing your chest muscles.
Return to the start position as you exhale, pushing the bar using your chest muscles. Hold for a count of one.
But What About Dumbbells?
The incline dumbbell press is another great chest exercise that I'd recommend you add to your arsenal. However, the barbell remains king.
Progressive overload with dumbbells can be quite difficult unless you have a complete array from 40lbs to 140lbs. The range of motion with smaller, lighter dumbbells can be superior to that of the barbell, however when it comes time to lift heavy the sheer size of the dumbbells can limit your range of motion.