You train four to five times a week, you have the perfect training split, your diet is on point, but you can’t seem to get your chest to grow. All your other muscles appear to be growing, but for some reason your chest isn’t responding. You’ve tried working it from multiple angles and perform multiple drop sets of flys until you are blue in the face. Why isn’t your chest growing?
Compound movements are the best for overall growth and size. They work multiple muscle groups and make your body release larger amounts of growth hormone for recovery. They are great at building muscle endurance and preparing your body for life. However, as great as compound movements are, sometimes specific muscle groups aren’t fully taxed by the exercises. This couldn’t be more evident than with the number one exercise in the world, the bench press.
Is Bench Press the Best Exercise for Chest Growth?
If you could only perform one exercise for your chest, then it better be the bench press. The bench press isn’t the best exercise for your chest, it is the best exercise for your upper body. After the squat and deadlift, the bench press is the next best overall exercise for muscle size and strength.
The bench taxes several upper body muscle groups. Besides the chest, the bench press works the delts, triceps, and even your back. Here is where the problem lies for chest development. After your newbie gains wear off, it will be harder to stimulate specific muscle groups to grow. You can no longer just look at the weights and get bigger and stronger. You will have to design your workouts for periodization by targeting specific muscle groups for 4-8-week cycles.
While the bench press is a staple of upper body development, it isn’t the best at targeting your chest muscles. Because the bench press works your arms and shoulders, often your chest doesn’t get fully worked. Over time, this lack of being fully stimulated causes your chest development to lag that of your shoulders and arms. So how do you make the bench press activate your chest muscles better?
Dumbbell and cable chest flys are two of the best exercises for activating your pecs. Unfortunately, most people can’t lift heavy enough weight to fully work your chest. This is where pre-exhaustion chest flys can solve your pec problems.
Before your next bench or incline press workout, try doing three sets of 10-15 reps with dumbbell or cable flys. Focus on perfect form and really flexing your pecs in the contracted position. Once you have performed all three sets, then move on to your presses. If you used the right amount of weight for your flys, your strength on your presses shouldn’t be affected.
Because your pecs have already been pre-exhausted, they should fail at the same time as your shoulders and arms. By moving your chest flys to the beginning of your workout, you will get more chest growth from your bench presses. As a bonus, you should have one of the best chest pumps of your life. Try pre-exhaustion flys for 4-8 weeks and you should start to notice a difference in the development of your pecs.