MusclePharm's Cory Gregory answers these two questions: how deep should I be taking my bench press reps, and why are my dumbbell flyes not building mass?
It’s not a national emergency – yet.
But when it comes to chest growth, there are two major things I am seeing in gyms and on social media that are holding people back from big gains.
As we all know, a big chest is a big goal for just about every lifter. Why else would we work so tirelessly to have someone ask, “How much you bench press?”
For just about everyone, a big chest equals a big bench and a monster physique, but there’s undoubtedly some limiting factors or two major questions I get on a frequent basis when it comes to chest growth.
Chest Growth Problem #1 - No Growth
It usually goes like this when it comes to problem No. 1:
“Cory, I can’t get my chest to grow at all! What’s up?"
My first response is usually the following: “Do you touch the bar on your chest when you’re doing incline and flat bench movements?”
Here’s the typical response, which is the root of the problem: “No, I only go about halfway down.”
Well, that didn’t take long to find that problem. If you never work or utilize a full range of motion with the muscle, how are you supposed to fully activate and work it hard enough to grow?
In short, you can’t and you won’t ever get the full potential of your chest growth.
The usual reason I hear people not using full range of motion is that they have bad shoulders. Unfortunately, this notion has caught on far too much with far too many lifters.
Whoever made up the idea that you should stop halfway down was either blessed with a genetically big chest or had some really, really bad shoulders. If the bad shoulder part is true, hammering your rear delts (face pulls, pull-aparts, rear-delt raises) is the answer, not doing half-reps on major chest movements.
Sure, you might be saving your shoulders with a half-rep, but there’s other ways to keep your shoulders healthy without robbing your chest of some major growth.
Lifting is nothing more than a game of angles and tempos against resistance. Instead of doing a half-rep, focus on keying in your arch and form when it comes to your incline and flat bench. A good arch can keep your shoulders happy while giving your chest a chance to really grow into something big and powerful.
Check out the video I put together below to help explain keying in on arch even further.
Should I go FULL range on my Bench Press?
Chest Growth Problem #2 - Your Chest Flys Are Shoulder Flys
Now, let’s jump to the second problem I’ve seen far too often. Chest flys are a supreme assistance movement when it comes to chest development.
That’s something we can all agree on.
But here’s where I have a problem – when I see someone doing it, I see a shoulder fly, not a chest fly.
To be honest, 9 out of 10 times I see people doing a chest fly, they’re using the wrong angle, robbing them of some major potential growth.
In fact, if the angle and technique is wrong, the only thing they’re doing is hurting their shoulders – which leads to half-rep bench presses and more bad flys and more half-rep incline presses and, ultimately, you end up with one nasty cycle of chest-limiting movements.
When done properly, chest flys can help your chest grow to another level, so the absolute critical key when doing them is making sure the technique is proper.
My method for getting the technique down was simply watching “Pumping Iron” and seeing Arnold Scharzenegger go deep with them and using the correct angle to fully target the chest.
To get this down pat as well, check out the video to see the proper form and further explanation of the chest fly.
This is nothing major, and it’s nothing revolutionary, but these two tweaks to your chest workouts could pay major dividends and be the big solution to your chest problems.