If you’ve been incorporating the tips I’ve provided in the last couple of articles here on Labrada.com, I hope they have helped you see progress and break plateaus. It’s amazing how a simple tweak or adjustment can break barriers that seemed insurmountable before. We’ve already covered both the biceps and triceps so let’s move on to chest training and this is a mistake that I used to make myself a lot and I know that once I corrected it, I saw new gains almost immediately. The same can be said for people I’ve trained and past lifting partners. It actually isn’t an exercise either. This mistake is actually centered on how you perform every exercise.
Chest Training Mistake: Not Squeezing the Chest Muscles
It doesn’t matter which exercise you are talking about that targets the pecs – bench press, incline, flyes, crossovers, dips, or even pushups. Many people just bang out rep after rep to get through the set. There’s no doubt in my mind that these athletes and fitness enthusiasts are committed to the training and giving their best effort with each set but if they committed one extra second per rep, they could be paving the way to some serious progress. Taking a second at the end of the concentric (or lifting) portion of the movement to squeeze or trying to flex the pecs makes the exercise a little more challenging, helps pump more nutrient rich blood into the muscles, and many bodybuilders feel it help them add detail and hardness to the chest which helps improve their presentation onstage.
Here’s a demonstration to help illustrate my point. Right now drop down and do ten pushups like you normally would. Just knock ten of them real quick. Ok, now after about 30 seconds, do ten more but this time, when you’re pushed up at arms’ length, try to flex your chest for a count of “one thousand one” before lowering yourself back down. You might not notice a change or anything significant with one rep but you may notice that doing ten is a little tougher. Now imagine doing that same squeeze or flexing with every rep during your next chest training session. Most workouts have anywhere from 100 to 200 reps on average so that is 100 to 200 extra contractions of the chest you weren’t previously doing.
Here’s another demonstration. Place your right hand over your left chest muscle. Take your left arm and perform a flye-like movement. First do it without squeezing the chest. You should notice the chest working but nothing serious. Now do it again but this time when your arm at the top of that flye movement, squeeze the chest as tight as you can for a second. Did you feel the muscle get tighter and harder? Now imagine doing that with a dumbbell in your hand or while performing cable crossovers. After a few weeks of trying this new strategy during your chest training, you should notice some changes that will make you proud.
Next time, I’ll share the mistake I see people make when it comes to shoulder training. Let me know in the comments if these tips are helping you out.
About the Author
Roger “ROCK” Lockridge is a writer whose work has been seen all over the world. He is most known as a writer for Iron Man Magazine and Bodybuilding.com. In 2009, he was named Bodybuilding.com Male Writer of the Year which along with the Female award is the highest award for writers in the bodybuilding/fitness world.
Roger is also known for his work against child abuse and domestic violence and he was featured as a part of the domestic violence documentary “30” as the only child survivor and the only male survivor in the film.