Are you getting a bit tired of the “build a big chest” advice that doesn’t pass the test of rational assessment? If so, you’re not alone. I keep seeing the same burned out advice that was merely ripped off from the bodybuilding magazines of the past ten years and regurgitated as chest building “secrets.” Even worse, some of this advice might not help you at all in your quest to build your pectorals.
Here’s the salient piece of advice you’re getting from today’s Internet bodybuilding gurus in order to build a big chest:
“Do pressing movements and don’t do flye movements.”
Funny, some of the top bodybuilders of yesteryear were said to have begun their best chest development when they dumped the presses in favor of flyes. I remember reading an article by pro bodybuilder Scott Wilson (back in 1987) which stated exactly that. He said his pectorals never made any progress until he eradicated the notion that pressing movements were the way to build chest size and flyes were the way to shape them.
I tend to listen to those guys more closely because steroid use was (at least) not as rampant back then as it is now.
Let’s bust the “build a big chest” only with bench pressing myth right now. How? By applying our common sense to the biggest alleged reason that bench pressing is the king of pectoral movements. Here’s the most widely purported reason:
“Pressing movements bring in the most muscle fiber recruitment and put the most overall stress on the chest muscles.”
The first part of this statement can fool you. It holds some validity only because presses are “compound movements” and they call the shoulder and arm muscles into play. However, if the additional muscle fiber recruitment can only be accounted for by bringing more muscle groups into play, then it’s not doing anything to help pectoral growth. Any weight volume on bench presses that’s being handled by your shoulders and triceps will be relegated to… well… helping you build your shoulders and triceps.
The second part of this statement is cancelled out by what we’ve just concluded. Bench presses DO give us more overall stress on the entire body. However, this doesn’t necessarily equate to more overall stress on the chest. There are individuals out there who have just the right genetic structure among their arm/shoulder/pectoral tie-ins so as to get good results from pressing movements in their quest to build a big chest.
By contrast, there are many in the ‘Scott Wilson’ group. These individuals get minimal pressing movement results in their efforts to build a big chest.
The remedy? Try using heavy flyes as the cornerstone of your routine to build a big chest.
“But Scott, won’t heavy bench pressing make my body into an anabolic machine that oozes higher levels of testosterone?”
Oh boy, that’s a topic for another entry. Until then, you can get another dose of common sense with my entry called "Natural Testosterone and Workout Duration."