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4 Chest Cheat Codes For A Fuller Chest (No Bench Press Needed)

4 Chest Cheat Codes For A Fuller Chest (No Bench Press Needed)

Let’s face it— Every guy wants a bigger chest.

Building admirable pecs is nearly impossible, ESPECIALLY if you stick to the conventional bench press and push-up mentality. Guys do them for months (even years) and still can’t even fill out a medium shirt!

That’s because these movements just aren’t optimal for chest growth!

But I’ll give you 4 chest cheat codes along with 3 pec-specific movements to add into your routine with ease. Unlike the bench press or push up, these hacks will wake up those dormant pecs and have them firing on all cylinders—all by simply modifying your current routine!

1. Don’t Just Press—SQUEEZE!

While most chest exercises involve pressing movements, people often neglect the “squeeze”. The pecs are responsible for a few movements, including horizontal adduction or pulling the arms toward the midline of the body.

While most people do chest flys and bench press, other muscles [shoulders & triceps] often assist too much, taking the focus off the chest unless you really find exercises that put you in the best position to squeeze the chest.

Most people have a hard time feeling their chest activate during bench press. I know it took me over a year to even get a subpar contraction when bench pressing.

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Try this exercise for a great chest contraction:

I call them the Napoleon Press as Napoleon always had his hand in his suit, similar to the position of this exercise. Grab a single cable at nipple level. While squeezing your elbow into your ribs, press away for the weight stack, keeping your arm as close to your body as possible. Be sure to stand upright with a proud chest and don’t round your backer shoulders. You will feel your chest squeeze tighter than ever.

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      Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps one to two days a week with moderate weight and focus on the squeeze.

      2. Think Outside the Box with Equipment

      If you do what you’ve always done you will get what you’ve always got. It’s time to change up some of your exercises.

      Using different equipment will allow your chest a new stimulus to grow from, breaking you out of that pec-plateau. Changing up your exercise angles will give you a better ability to contract and, honestly, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity.

      Try Using Back Equipment for Chest:

      Find your gym’s T-bar row machine or set up and grab the end of the bar with one or both hands. Pressing with this set up and angle will really get you chest fibers firing. For an extra squeeze, rotate your body slightly so your are single-arm pressing across your body and upwards for the craziest chest contraction you’ve ever felt. You can also use the V-bar attachment on the end of the bar and squeeze your elbows in for a more time-efficient pump.

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              Try doing 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps one to two days a week.

              3. Quit Cutting the Motion Short!

              So why exactly do the bench press and push up just not deliver optimal chest growth? Aside from form needing to be perfected (Check out this article to perfect your bench), these exercises do not train the chest’s full range of motion.

              That means you are missing an opportunity to build a bigger chest.

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              The chest muscle brings the arms across the chest, but If you try it right now you can bring your arm pretty far across your chest, right? Now, try doing it with both arms at the same time. Pretty much impossible.

              Bench press and chest flys stop the chest contraction short. Now, that doesn’t mean they are bad exercises, but that does mean you may want to train the rest of the motion with a different exercise that can pick up the slack. More contraction equals a bigger chest.

              Try this single arm cable or machine fly:

              Set the cable to shoulder height and stand perpendicular to the weight stack. Use a single rope attachment or even grab the cable itself over hand. Keeping your body facing forward, arm almost locked out, and your shoulder blades together, bring the cable horizontally across your body. Think about touching your opposite shoulder with the inside of you elbow and you will feel your chest tighten almost to the point where it cramps.

              single arm cable chest excercise-1

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                  Use a lighter weight for this exercise and stick to the 12-14 rep range for 2-3 sets, being sure not to round your shoulders.

                  4. Contract with Intention

                  The biggest problem with people’s lifting programs is the lack of intention.

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                  Most people lift with the intention of moving weight rather than contracting the muscle. For powerlifting, that might be okay, but not for people who want a bigger chest.

                  If you are doing chest exercises and can’t intentionally contract your chest, I question the effectiveness of that exerciser towards your goal. Simply moving the bar up and down without proper form or intention of contraction will more than likely result in no chest growth at best and an injury at worse.

                  Some may call it the mind muscle connection, I call it intention. It’s a necessary component of building the muscles you want. Certain exercises put you in a better position to contract the chest which will inevitably help you in other lifts like bench press.

                  Try this exercise and do it with intention of really squeezing your chest:

                  While seated on a high incline bench, use a 10-35lb weight plate and press it between your hand tightly, allowing the only grip you have on the plate to be the pressure you apply to the plate. By squeezing your hands tight and keeping your elbows tight to your body, your chest is firing through that horizontal adduction we mentioned earlier. Now, keeping the pressure, press the plate toward the roof and back down. This maximizes the chest contraction and really wakes up those sleeping fibers.

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                      I personally like to start my chest days with this exercise. Try doing 2 sets of 12-15 reps, squeezing tight.

                      Put Your New Cheat Codes to the Test

                      Using these 4 principles and 4 new exercises, you should be able to maximally contract your chest while adding variety to your preexisting program. Coupled with the right diet, your chest will grow and you’ll get an amazing chest pump every single time you train.

                      Don’t just move things— squeeze with intention, think outside the box, and watch your shirt size and compliments increase as you finally earn the chest you want.

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                      Published on January 17, 2020

                      How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                      How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                      If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

                      Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

                      But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

                      And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

                      What is Yoga?

                      Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

                      The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

                      When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

                      Let’s see how to do that:

                      Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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                      Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

                      Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

                      Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

                      This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

                      But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

                      The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

                      But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

                      You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

                      It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

                      Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

                      In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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                      As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

                      Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

                      Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

                      Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

                      As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

                      Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

                      But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

                      The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

                      So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

                      The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

                      The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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                      1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
                      2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
                      3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
                      4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
                      5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

                      That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

                      Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

                      However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

                      It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

                      Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

                      Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

                      Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

                      Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

                      This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

                      This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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                      1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
                      2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
                      3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
                      4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

                      This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

                      Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

                      Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

                      You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

                      Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

                      The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

                      Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

                      Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

                      Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

                      The stillness and the watching within.

                      Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

                      More About Yoga

                      Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
                      [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
                      [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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