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3 Workout Tips for Building a Massive Chest

Add half an inch to your pecs with these muscle-building techniques.
3 Workout Tips for Building a Massive Chest
James Michelfelder

There’s more to chest training than just presses, flyes, and cable crossovers done week after week—but that’s the only approach most guys know.

Allow us to shed some light on the science of building muscle so you can attack your pecs with a more precise strategy—one that could add up to a half-inch of muscle in four weeks.

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While the term pumping iron is ubiquitous, it’s a fairly poor description of how properly executed repetitions are performed. Mechanically pumping out your reps allows you to rely on momentum and the stretch reflex to lift the weight, rather than forcing the muscles to work their hardest to do so.

Lower the weights on presses and flyes with a slower cadence and perform the lifting motion with power. A review in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that muscle gains were maximized when the lowering phase of a rep takes two to four seconds and the upward phase lasts one to three. Additionally, a 2015 study from Sports Medicine found that muscles grow with rep durations up to eight seconds.

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It seems that with chest training especially, guys fall into one of two camps. They’re either always loading up the bar to bench-press as heavy as possible, or performing high reps on machine or isolation exercises, denying their muscles the intensity of training heavy. Don Saladino, owner of Drive495, a training facility in New York City that serves celebrities and athletes (, says that you need to mesh both approaches. “You can develop a bigger chest by lifting heavy weights, which work the type II muscle fibers, and light weights, which hit type I fibers.”

This can be done by training chest twice per week, with a heavy stimulus one day and what Saladino calls a “pump day” four days later. Note that these workouts must be spread out for optimal recovery. On the heavy day do low-rep sets of bench presses, and on the pump day work your machine presses, flyes, and other isolation moves. 

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Nobody can go all-out all the time. When you feel your performance beginning to suffer, or you just need a break from hard training, throw in a deload week. Deloading is a short period of reduced training intensity designed to lower injury risk and promote recovery for better gains to come. It’s not optional. “Deloads give your joints a break from the pounding of heavy weights,” says Saladino. “You also need them when you have adapted to a program and you’re not seeing any more gains.”

There are several ways to implement a deload. You can cut the volume you do in your workouts in half for a week—so if you were doing 20 sets in a session, perform only 10. You can also reduce the loads you lift, using only 60–70 percent of the weight you used in the previous week’s workouts. Or, Saladino says, simply begin a new program with lighter loads and focus on higher rep ranges. In short, take it easy and come back stronger.

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