Building bigger pecs is on the agenda for most men. Monday is often known as ‘international chest day’, with people queuing for the benches and pec deck machines. Gym conversation is rife with the number one question: how much do you bench? However the bench press is far from the best exercise to build big pecs. When done incorrectly it can put your shoulders in a vulnerable position, drastically increasing your risk of injury. It is also imperative to warm up the shoulders properly before any chest exercises.
We explain the function of the pecs, why bench press is not king and show you one of the best exercises to build a big chest.
Firstly, it is important to understand the anatomy.
The chest is comprised of two muscle groups, the Pectoralis Major and Minor. The major makes up most of the mass that you can see, with the minor being the deep muscle fibres which attach to your ribcage. The pec major originates along the collarbone, sternum and ribs, and inserts into the upper arm by the bicep. This means the chest and upper arm are directly connected.
It is also crucial to understand the function of the chest.
The primary functions of the pecs are to flex (lift up), adduct, (squeeze in) and internally rotate the humerus (upper arm).
It is easy to see the fibres of the muscle running from the origin to the insertion, showing how different angles will optimise the stretch and squeeze of each of these fibres.
To properly squeeze the pecs, you must lift up the arm slightly, bring it across your body and rotate your arm inwards.
To properly stretch the pecs you must do the opposite. Lower your arm slightly, move it backwards away from your body and rotate your outwards.
What exercise have you just performed? The Chest fly.
The chest fly is the optimal exercise to work the pecs, as you are working the full range of motion of the muscle, both squeezing and stretching it all the way.
The bench press in contrast, neither properly stretches or squeezes the chest. So while you can lift a lot of weight, you are not optimising the muscle’s range of movement. If you only bench press, you will see limited gains.
Why the chest fly with our Dynamic Bands is one of the best exercises.
As the Dynamic Bands extend, they apply more resistance. This means at the end contraction point of the chest fly, the band is applying the most resistance. Which means you optimise the squeeze part of the exercise which so many people struggle with. Combine this with pressing workouts on our stunning Parallettes and Power Rings and your chest gains will skyrocket. You can make amazing gains doing this before your press ups and dips.