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If you want to build a bigger chest you are going to have to lift lighter weights. Wait, what was that? That’s right. While heavy lifting is an important part of the equation when it comes to building a bigger chest it must be complimented with some lighter training or you will not see the best chest gains that you are capable of.
In this video, I show you why it is important to lift light weights in order to build your pecs. More importantly, I will show you exactly how to make sure you are getting this right every single time you do it. To start, it is important to stress why this is so crucial to your chest growth. First of all, any heavy bench press is usually done with the goal of simply moving the bar or the dumbbells away from your chest. The use of the triceps and shoulders to achieve this is common and the amount of work that is actually done by the chest is greatly limited.
Throw in the fact that the exercise itself limits the actions of the chest because of the tendency to push the weights straight up and avoid the all important horizontal adduction of the shoulder that allows the chest to contribute more. This can all be fixed however and it can be done with lighter weights than usual.
At the bottom of the press, you want to first be sure that you are putting the pecs in a position to be the primary mover in the bench press. You can do this two ways. First you want to posturally put your chest in the right position by moving your shoulders down and back. If you peek to the side you can see that the chest will become more prominent and the shoulders should settle back a bit. The chest should literally be more forward than the shoulders if you are positioned properly.
Now, before you press you want to quickly squeeze your armpits tight to create a pre-activation of the pecs. This minor horizontal adduction of the shoulder is enough to make the chest tighten up and become the active driver of the movement from here on out. Even with just this one simple change alone you will instantly feel much more work being done by the chest and the lighter weights you are using will be enough to challenge you.
But that is not enough. You also want to now focus on what is moving during the press. The mistake is to think about the hands or the dumbbells. It is easy to do this however because that is after all what you are pressing. Do not do this. Instead, focus on the elbows during the descent and the biceps during the press. Yes, you heard me right. The elbows should travel outward as you lower the dumbbells and the biceps should attempt to be squeezed together during the press.
If you can get the biceps close then you are getting the upper arm close. This is horizontal adduction at its best and it is critical to a completely contracted chest. If you have to spin the dumbbells at the top to allow the arms to get even closer than that is ok too. The key is not to be fooled by the dumbbells. You may think that they are close to each other at the top of the movement but if you still have a decent bend in the elbow then the arms may not be adducted nearly as much as they can be and the chest is not contracted as hard is possible.
With just these couple of tips you are going to see how shifting the majority of the load to the pecs (for maybe the first time ever) will require far less weight than you think to overload them. Mix in some of these lighter sets with your traditional heavier pressing and you will get far better results than had you just lifted heavy.
It is never about what exercise you are doing but how you are doing it when it comes to getting maximal muscle gains. If you want to build muscle and get the most out of every workout, head to and use the program selector tool to find the program that is best aligned to your current fitness goals.
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