How to Build Big Pecs

By Jason Ferruggia

Arnold PecsA lot of guys email to ask me how to build big pecs. After I get finished telling them that traps are the most impressive body part I finally cave to their requests. The first mistake that most guys make is that they train chest too often. More specifically they bench press too often. When you train a muscle too frequently with too much volume you never allow your body adequate recovery time and thus you will never grow optimally. On top of that you will also be setting yourself up for overuse injuries, rotator cuff strains and pec tears.

So my first reply to the question of how to build big pecs is, “stop bench pressing so much.” If you are a beginner you can train your chest three times per week. Everyone else should train chest twice per week or once every five days. And the bench press should not be your main chest exercise. A properly performed bench press has your elbows tucked in at your side forty five degrees. Your shoulder blades should be fully squeezed together throughout the set. You never, ever want to allow your arms to flare out to the side anywhere close to ninety degrees like you see most guys doing in the gym. This sets you up for a pec tear and a whole host of shoulder injuries. Keep your elbows tucked and touch the bar to your chest just below your nipples; no higher. Brining the bar to your neck is the absolute worst and most dangerous thing you can do.

If you bench press with that kind of form you should be pretty safe and able to avoid most of the common injuries associated with benching. However, that still doesn’t give you free reign to bench fifty two weeks per year. I recommend benching no more than once per week for no more than eight weeks straight. After that it’s time to switch to a different chest exercise. In fact, the bench press is far from the best chest exercise there is. And when you do it with proper form as described above, the shoulders and triceps usually do more work than the chest does. The best exercises for building the chest are different types of weighted pushup variations. These are especially effective when done with the TRX Suspension Straps (http://www.TrxStraps.com/ ). You can also do pushups with a band behind your back, a weighted vest or with a partner holding plates on your back.

One arm pushups, dive bomber pushups and spider pushups are awesome chest exercises as well and can humble even the strongest guys. These can all be done with extra resistance as well.

Parallel bar dips are another fantastic chest building exercise. Be sure to lean forward slightly when doing them to direct more of the stress to your pecs and away from your triceps.

Dumbbell pressing variations are great for building the chest and allow for a safer and more natural range of motion than a barbell does. Flat or incline dumbbell presses should be done with your palms facing in toward your body and not down toward your feet like most guys do them. This is much safer on your shoulder.

Now you know how to build big pecs. Time to hit the gym.

Jason Ferruggia


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