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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

                single arm cable chest excercise-2

                  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.

                  chest squeezing excercise-1

                    chest squeezing excercise-2

                      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 March 8, 2019

                      How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                      How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                      When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

                      Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

                      Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

                      How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

                      How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

                      Think about your current workouts:

                      If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

                      In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

                      A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

                        A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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                        Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

                        Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

                        Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

                        Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

                        This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

                        Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

                        Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

                        The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

                        Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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                        Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

                        Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

                        The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

                        The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

                        Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

                        Meet Strong Stan

                        Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

                        While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

                        While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

                        Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

                        Meet Flexible Fiona

                        Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

                        Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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                        To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

                        Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

                        It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

                        Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

                        Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

                        What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

                        In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

                        In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

                        So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

                        You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

                        If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

                        If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

                        Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

                          Final Thoughts

                          If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

                          Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

                          Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

                          With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

                          More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

                          Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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