To persuade a stubborn pair of pecs to grow, you’ll need to put some more pressure on them. This means increasing their time under tension (TUT)—the duration your muscles are contracting during a given set or workout.
Yes, you could just accomplish this by increasing the total number of sets. But you can also achieve greater TUT by performing isometric contractions—that is, tensing the muscle without moving it—on every set of bench presses and cable flyes.
Try these four techniques to ratchet up the tension and see major gains.
1. Bench Press (Low Double Contractions)
Lower the bar to your chest, press it halfway up, lower it back down, then press it all the way up. That’s one rep. Use a medium-width grip. Squeeze your hands and try to “bend” the bar.
2. Cable Isometric Flye
As you bring the handles together at the top of each rep, press and hold your hands together. Hold this position for 12 seconds on your first rep, for 10 seconds on your second rep, and so on, until you’ve performed six reps.
3. Plyometric One-Arm-Up Pushup
Start with one hand on a low box and one hand on the floor, with your arms extended. Lower into a push-up, then explosively push yourself up away from the box, landing in the start position. Pause to stabilize yourself, then repeat.
4. Push-Up/Band Flye/Band Press
Wrap an elastic band around a stable structure so it allows you to perform flyes and presses. Without rest, do 10 push-ups, band flyes for 30 seconds, band presses for 30 seconds, and one-arm alternating band presses for 30 seconds. Finish with 10 more push-ups.