Ask The Trainer #63 – Build A Bigger Chest


Hey Chad,

In your opinion, what do you think is the best way to bulk up my chest? is heavy weight/less reps better than lighter weight/high reps? is a wide grip on a bench press better than a medium? should I concentrate more on incline/decline bench rather than flat bench?



Hi Wes,

I’ve always been a fan of using heavier weights, working in relatively low rep ranges, say between 5-8 reps on most exercises because using heavier weights stimulates the type 2-b muscle fibers- which are the largest muscle fibers in the body. Light weight with high reps, stimulates the smaller, more aerobic slow twitch muscle fibers that help with building endurance, but not so much for increasing muscle size.

The key to complete chest development is stimulating as many muscle fibers in the chest as possible. I don’t think that the most commonly practiced chest exercises are always the most effective.

Here are a few chest exercises I really like:

The “Neck Press”: The first exercise is one of my all-time favorites. I recommend doing this exercise on a smith machine. You could do this on a standard bench press, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a good spotter.

The neck press is basically a bench press but with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip on the bar. Now, instead of the bar being lowered to the mid or lower pec area, it’s lowered to the base of the neck, just above the clavicle bones.

Many people don’t like to do this exercise because it’s much more difficult to handle heavier weights compared to a standard bench press. However, this movement involves much more pec than shoulder and is extremely effective. Perform just 1 set of 8-12 reps to 100% muscle failure.

Chad Shaw

Dips: This one is a great exercise for overall pectoral development. You can do weighted dips or use a machine which simulates the same motion. I alternate between weighted dips and machine dips.

Also, try this variation. Instead of grasping the handles with your knuckles facing the floor, try positioning your hands so your knuckles are facing inwards, with your thumbs pointing towards your body. This grip will feel awkward at first, but it will allow you to engage much more of your pecs and less of your triceps.

As you perform the negative portion of the movement, flair your elbows outwards away from your body. On the positive segment of the movement, focus on using your chest muscles to push your body back to the beginning position. Perform 1 set of 8-12 reps to 100% muscle failure.

The Cable Fly: The main benefit of using cables that you can place constant tension on the pecs throughout the entire range of motion. To perform this exercise, you’ll need to place a bench directly between the two lower pulleys of a cable crossover machine. Attach the same handles to the low pulleys you would normally use to perform cable crossovers. Unlike cable crossovers, you will be performing the flies while laying flat on your back on a bench.

Grab the handles which attach to the low pulleys and sit on top of the bench. Next, lay down so your back is flat on the bench, with your arms extending straight up so your hands point to the ceiling when they are held together. In a slow, controlled manner allow your arms to fan outwards just as you would when performing a dumbbell fly.

Allow your arms to fall back until you can feel the muscles of your chest stretch all the way out and your arms are unable to go back any further. Next, use the muscles of your chest to bring your arms back up into the starting position with your fists coming together and touching. Hold this position for 2 seconds before lowering your arms back down for another repetition. Perform just 1 set of 8-12 reps to 100% muscle failure.

I hope this advice helps you build a bigger chest. I wish you all the best in achieving all of your goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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