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How to pump up the pectorals!

The chest muscles belong to the largest muscle groups of the body, their development is of great importance both for the beauty of the figure and for strength indicators. For the harmonious development of the pectoral muscles, it is necessary to load each of its parts evenly. The load on each section of the pectoral muscles depends on the selection of strength exercises and on the options for their implementation. Any distortion in training will lead to a violation of harmony, so it is important to consciously treat the study of this zone. Let’s consider how to pump up the chest so that it does not have weak points, and its shape is close to perfect.

The anatomy of the pectoral muscles

To understand the question of how to pump up the chest and choose the most effective exercises for this, you must first get acquainted with the anatomy of the pectoral muscles. This muscle group includes the large and small pectoral muscles, as well as serratus anterior ones.

Let’s analyze in detail the structure and functions of each of these muscles:

Greater pectoral muscles

These muscles are attached to the upper parts of the shoulders and spread out like a fan, joining the collarbones, sternum and the top of the abdominal prelum. The large muscles of the chest consist of three heads originating from the top of the shoulder bones:

  • The clavicular head is located on top, going to the inner halves of the collarbones;
  • In the middle part there is a sternal head that joins the cartilage of the upper ribs;
  • The lower part of the greater pectoral muscle is formed by the abdominal head, which is attached to the rectus abdominis muscle.

All the heads of the greater pectoral muscles are involved in flexion, rotation of the shoulder joint, bringing the arms to the torso and their movements across the body. The clavicular heads also provide arm bending and lifting them above the head.

Smaller pectoral muscle

Under the large pectoral muscles, the small pectoral muscles are located, the volume of which is five times less. They connect the coracoid processes of scapula, which are located at the outer edge of the clavicles, with three ribs (from the third to the fifth). Their main function is the movement of the scapulars down and forward. Despite their modest size, small pectoral muscles are very powerful, their development significantly affects the increase in strength and muscle mass.

Serratus anterior

These muscles encircle the chest from the sides, extending from the inner edges and lower corners of the scapulars to the front side of the nine upper ribs. Their main function is to press the scapulars against the body and control their movement up and forward. The width of the chest largely depends on the volume of the serratus anterior, their pumping is necessary to build a harmonious torso. Also, their training is necessary to prevent injuries to the shoulder joints when performing heavy presses.

How to pump up your chest: The theory

To pump up the chest, you need to pay attention to the study of each part of this muscle group. To do this, you need to use as many different exercises and options for their implementation as possible. Chest growth is well influenced not only by the popular bench press and pec deck machine, but also by some exercises that are designed for other muscle groups:

* Chest Dips are not only a triceps workout, but also an excellent load for greater pectoral muscles;

* The thrust of the upper cable with a narrow grip on the handle works well not only on the back, but also on the sternal head of the greater pectoral muscle;

* Lifting dumbbells in front of you trains not only the deltoids but also the clavicular head of the greater pectoral muscle.

You can shift the load to different areas of the chest by changing the angle of inclination of the bench press:

* The upper head receives the maximum load when tilted 30-45° forward;

* Medium is loaded on a bench without a tilt;

* Lower is loaded when tilted 30-45° back (legs higher than the head).

To pump up the chest, you need to take care not only about the increase in muscle mass, but also about increasing the volume of the chest and improving its shape. This can be achieved by:

* A pullover with a barbell or dumbbell helps to expand the chest, increase its bulge and depth;

* Pec deck in a crossover stretches the muscle fibers, improves their blood supply and helps to create a clear definition of the pectoral muscles.

To pump up a wide chest, it is necessary to increase the volume of the anterior serrated muscles and increase the mass of the outer part of the greater pectoral muscles, which is achieved by performing a bench press with a wide grip. To pump up a high chest, a press with a narrow grip will help, working out the central part of the pectoral muscles.

Tip: To pump up the chest faster and more effectively, many athletes use Anadrol or Dianabol tablets, or in the case of people who strive for the ultimate muscle gain, Testosterone and Nandrolone are used for this purpose. By using these substances, you can gain within a few months what you usually can within years of un-supplemented intensive training.

What exercises can you perform to pump up your chest

There is no single exercise that would give the same load to all parts of the pectoral muscles. Therefore, it is necessary to include a whole set of chest exercises in the training program and use various options for their implementation. This will allow to carefully work out each section of the pectoral muscles and as a result, pump up an excellent chest.

Here is a list of the most popular exercises that load the chest:

* Bench press lying on a horizontal and inclined bench (with a different slope);

  • The same, but using dumbbells instead of a barbell to press with;

* Bench press in the hummer machine;

* Dumbbells flies lying horizontally and at different angles of inclination;

* Cable crossovers from different positions in each set;

* A pullover using a dumbbell, barbell, or on the upper cables standing;

  • Close grip bench press;
  • Different types of push-ups from the floor;

* Push-ups using different objects to allow for a greater working load.

Changing the exercises and their implementation options within your training, you can comprehensively work out the entire volume of this muscle group.


The best chest exercises: Research results

Not all chest exercises have the same effectiveness, some of them allow to pump up your chest faster. This was confirmed by studies conducted at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports of the University of Wisconsin (USA). The experiment involved 14 men aged 19-30 years, whose electrical activity of muscle tissue was measured during training.

Of the 9 popular chest exercises performed by the participants of the experiment, the greatest activity of the pectoral muscles was observed during the bench press. Only 2% less efficiency was shown by the cable crossovers, in third place with a result of 93% was a chest press sitting in the trainer. The rest of the exercises took lower places in the rating, showing efficiency from 79% to 61%.

This study confirmed the importance of the bench press as the main basic exercise for pumping the chest. Of course, it must be performed in every “chest” workout, but you can’t forget about the exercises that complement it either. Only an integrated approach will allow to pump up a voluminous and strong chest.

Bench press options and their impact on the load

The advantages of the bench press are not only in maximum efficiency for the growth of the pectoral muscles, but also in its versatility. Various options for performing this chest exercise shift the emphasis to different zones of this muscle group, which allows to thoroughly work out each of them. Let’s consider how the angle of inclination of the bench, the width of the grip, the position of the elbows and other factors affect the load distribution.

The angle of inclination of the bench

The bench press can be performed on a horizontal bench, on an inclined one with the head level above the legs and on a declined one with the head below the legs. In each of these cases, the load is distributed as follows:

* Horizontal, the pectoral muscles are loaded evenly, the emphasis is on the central part of the chest.

* Forward incline tilt (head at the top) – the load on the upper part of the pectoral muscles increases. In the range of angles of inclination of 30-60°, the upper chest is well worked out, and when the tilt is more than 60°, the front bundles of deltoids take up part of the load.

* Tilt back (head at the bottom) – the maximum load falls on the lower part of the pectoral muscles. The greater the tilt, the more the lower part of the chest and triceps are loaded.

Using all three variants of the body position when pressing the barbell lying down, you can work out the upper, central and lower parts of the pectoral muscles as much as possible.

Grip width

By changing the width of the arm placement on the barbell bar, you can redistribute the load between the center and the edges of the pectoral muscles, as well as load the triceps and the anterior bundles of deltoids:

* Classic grip (the angle between barbell bar and the forearm is 90°) – the pectoral muscles are loaded evenly, there is no redistribution of the load on the triceps and the anterior bundles of the deltoid muscles.

* Wide grip (the outer corner is more than 90°) – the emphasis shifts to the outer edges of the chest and part of the load falls on the front part of the deltoids. With a wide grip, the amplitude of the press is significantly reduced.

* Narrow grip (outer corner less than 90°) – the load is redistributed to the central part of the pectoral muscles, closer to the sternum, the triceps are more heavily loaded. The amplitude of the movements does not decrease.

The wider the grip, the further the load moves sideways from the center of the chest and the delts are more involved, the narrower it is, the more the central part of the greater pectoral muscles and triceps are loaded.

Elbow position

The degree of load on the pectoral muscles will depend on where the elbows are directed during the bench press. The position of the elbows is determined by the angle between the body and the humerus;

  • If this angle exceeds 45° (usually it is 60-80°, with large values, discomfort and the risk of injury increases), then the pectoral muscles are loaded as much as possible and the anterior deltas and triceps are unloaded.
  • If the angle is less than 45°, the load from the pectoral muscles is redistributed to the triceps and the front part of the deltoid muscles. The closer the elbows are to the body, the less the chest is loaded.

If the task is to pump up the chest, then you should give preference to the option of pressing the barbell lying down with the spreading elbows, as this provides the maximum load on the area being worked out.

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Movement amplitude

The bench press with an incomplete (partial) amplitude allows you to press heavier weights. At the same time, with a reduced amplitude, the back, delts and triceps are less involved and most of the load falls on the pectoral muscles. Therefore, if the goal is to pump up the chest, it is better to choose a variant of this exercise with an incomplete amplitude and weight that provides maximum muscle growth. If you train according to a shortened program and use the bench press to work out your chest, shoulders and arms at the same time, then it is better to perform it with full amplitude.

The trajectory of the movement

The barbell press can be carried out both in a straight line (exactly up) and along an arc-shaped trajectory with a rise above the head. In the second case, the amplitude of movement and the load on the muscles is greater. But using a flat trajectory allows to lift heavier weights, thereby accelerating muscle growth.

Forward and reverse grip

If the goal is to pump up the chest, then you need to press the barbell with a straight grip, because in this case, the target muscle group is loaded as much as possible. If you use the reverse grip, the load is shifted to the triceps and anterior deltoids. This is due to the fact that in this position it is impossible to spread your elbows to the sides for optimal load distribution.


A strong swayback when performing a barbell press reduces the amplitude of movement and allows to lift more weight. At the same time, due to the change in the angle of inclination of the trunk, the load is shifted to the lower part of the chest. However, with a strong swayback, the risk of injury increases, so “pressing from the bridge” is not recommended, only a small swayback is allowed.


Incorrect breathing during the bench press kills the technique of implementation and deprives this exercise of effectiveness. The only correct breathing method during the bench press is:

  • With the beginning of lowering the barbell, take a breath;

* In the middle of the downward movement, hold your breath and then lower the apparatus while holding your breath;

  • Without exhaling at the bottom point, start the press at the same delay and exhale sharply only in the middle of the lifting trajectory;

* Continue to lift the apparatus while holding your breath, take the next breath when lowering the barbell.

According to experienced bodybuilders, proper breathing seems to push the apparatus up and makes it possible to lift much more weight.

To pump up the chest, you need to try different types of exercises for this muscle group. Only by experience can you find the most suitable implementation options for yourself, because each person has individual anatomical features. By monitoring the work of the muscles and observing the result, you will be able to choose for yourself the most effective angles of inclination, the amplitude and trajectory of movement, and other factors also.

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