How to feel your chest when training them!

A very useful article i stumbled upon while browsing the web, credit to Nick Nilsson:

One of the most common training questions I get with regards to chest training is simply not being able to feel the pecs working at all when doing chest exercises!

And when you can’t feel the pecs working, you know darn well that actual muscle development is simply NOT going to happen.

So enough about the problem…how do you FIX it?

I’ve got a number of techniques for you to try out, some of which may work better than others for you.

But they should get you well on your way towards the chest development you’re looking for.


1. Pre-Exhaust Training

When performing a movement like the bench press, the pecs are definitely involved but can be easily pushed into a secondary role by the front delts and the triceps.

So instead of doing a regular bench press movement, you will instead do 6 to 8 reps of dumbell flyes (an isolation movement for the chest) THEN immediately go right to the bench press.

The idea here is to “pre-exhaust” your pecs so that when you do the bench press, your pecs are the weakest link and the shoulders and triceps then push the chest harder than it would normally be pushed.

When you have to stop, it’s going to be pec fatigue that ends the set while the shoulders and triceps are still relatively fresh.


2. Feeling The Flye

Now, the pre-exhaust training is all well and good…but what if you can’t feel your pecs even doing FLYES? Pre-exhaust won’t be much help.

The first thing you need to do is get off the flat bench and onto a Swiss Ball.

Get into position on the ball and wrap your entire back AROUND the ball. Don’t just put your shoulders on the ball and keep your body straight, like many people are taught with the ball.

To get the most out of flyes, you need to open up your rib cage and get your shoulders back (which helps focus the tension on the pecs instead of the shoulders).

The ball is PERFECT for this position. So lay back on the ball, wrap your back around it and consciously force your shoulders back and down.

THEN do a dumbell flye.

Imagine on the way down like you’re trying to push your chest up to the ceiling. And imagine on the way up that you’re wrapping your arms around a big tree.

When doing flyes, don’t hold the dumbells perfectly parallel to each other…hold them at about a 45 degree angle to your body (thumb end in closer to the head – pinky side outwards). This takes stress off the shoulders and helps keep tension on the pecs.


3. Tilt the Dumbells

When doing dumbell presses (either on the ball or the bench), tilt the dumbells down and in…if the dumbells were pitchers or water, it would look like you’re pouring them on yourself.

This tilt (and make sure and keep that tilt through the whole exercise) keeps tension on the pecs. If you keep them horizontal or tilting outwards, the tension goes to the shoulders.


4. Concentration Flyes

These are done standing, in a bent-over position, with light weight. They’re a great exercise for developing that “feel” in the chest. They won’t build a chest – just assist in getting that connection.

Grab the dumbell and bend over a bit.

Now, keeping your arm slightly bent but stiff (no movement other than at the shoulder), bring the dumbell up and across your body as though trying to touch it to your opposite shoulder.

5. The Rolled-Up Towel Trick

This is a technique I came up with to force the shoulders down and back (as I mentioned with the flyes above) and get the pecs involved in the bench press. This is done on the flat bench.

Roll up a towel and lay it lengthwise down the centerline of the bench. Set it on the bench right between where your shoulder blades will be. Your head should be on a flat section and your butt should be on a flat section.

Lay down on the bench, feeling the towel run right down your spine. This elevation immediately forces your shoulders back and down (the proper position for benching and feeling it in your chest).

It’s not particularly comfortable but it’s a great teaching tool to force your body into the proper position.


6. Stop Trying To Go So Heavy

Half the time, you’re probably just trying to go too heavy on the chest exercise and you just lose the feel for the exercise. Back off on the weight and feel the pecs working rather than focusing on blasting up the weight.

When you load the exercise heavy, your body immediately turns to its strongest movers. If your chest isn’t part of that A team, it won’t be called upon.


7. Don’t Grip So Hard

One of the things I’ve noticed with chest exercises is that the harder you grip the bar/handles, the more the tension gets moved to the shoulders and triceps.

Try easing up on your grip a little – not to the extent that you make the exercise dangerous, but back off on the death grip and see if you feel a difference. If you’re training heavy on bench press, though, KEEP the tight grip. In that case, safety is more important.


8. “Shocking” High-Rep Training

This is best done on the very first set of your workout with NO warm-up. You’re going to just be using a moderate weight, so don’t worry about not doing a huge warm-up. If you have a decent amount of training experience, you’ll be just fine.

We’re going to literally “shock” your chest muscles into responding here. Load the bar with (or select dumbells) a weight you’d normally be able to get about 12 to 15 “strict” reps in your regular workout.

Now lay down and CRANK OUT as many reps as you can with that weight as fast as you possibly can. Don’t worry if your form isn’t perfect…just hammer the reps out.

And when I say crank, I mean CRANK…don’t bounce the bar off your chest or anything but you must quite simply EXPLODE out of the bottom of every single rep…and don’t even think about slowing down to get the negative.

The idea here is very rapidly call upon every available muscle fiber worked by that exercise to contribute an emergency situation, especially the power-oriented type 2 muscle fibers.

And this emergency idea is why you’re not going to do a warm-up…we want it to be a TRUE emergency situation where you go from zero to kablammo!

ONE set of this is all you need. Because once you do that first set, not only will the entire area be fatigued, you won’t be able to get nearly as many reps and it won’t have the same emergency effect on your body.

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE WITH IMAGES CLICK HERE

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