Common Mistakes When Training Chest and Pecs

Walk into the gym any Monday night and you are likely to see the majority of guys working hard on their pecs. 

So why is it that chest most often leads off the training week?

Well, because big pecs are always in! Just look at the Terminator, Rocky, Superman, or most action stars in cinema and it is easy to see why so many men covet massive, shapely, and striated pectorals. The funny (or sad, really) thing is, despite all of the gut busting work, very few get to display the kind of chests that make jaws drop.

You see, building perfect-pecs is not as easy as lying on a bench and mindlessly pressing a few hundred lbs. Rather, it takes a well-thought-out, progressive and meticulous approach that carefully avoids the following mistakes:

Failure to Set the Torso Correctly 

This is, in 30 year fitness professional Eric Broser's  opinion, is the most common reason people fail to build the kind of chest they desire. Before even beginning any set of presses or flye one must make sure to raise the ribcage, slightly arch the lower back and shrug the shoulders down and back.

This position must be held throughout every set!

Too Few Reps P​​​​er S​​​​et

For some reason when it comes to chest training most guys worry more about how much weight they are lifting than how they are lifting it.

While it is fun to test one’s strength on occasion with a “single” or “double” on the bench or incline press, this will do little to stimulate actual muscle hypertrophy. 90% of the time Eric advises 7-12 reps per set in perfect form if your main goal is prodigious pecs.

Over Benching

There is no doubt that the BB Bench Press is an awesome pec-building exercise.

After all, some of the best chests ever created were done so by “big benchers.” However, Eric feels most trainees rely on this movement too much, which will not only hold back muscular development, but also possibly cause overuse injuries that lead to major shoulder problems.

Make sure to use a wide variety of exercises in your chest program including, flyes, dips, pullovers, as well as DB and machine movements.

​Not Emphasizing the Negative Contraction

In an effort to push bigger weights many guys allow the BB or DB’s to quickly drop to their chests so a strong “rebound” can occur from the bottom.

Not only can this cause muscle tears and/or rib cage injuries but will also rob you of the most effective portion (as far as hypertrophy is concerned) of every rep! Make sure to emphasize the negative (eccentric) potion of every rep by lowering the weight over three to five seconds for maximum pec stimulation and development.

​Lack of Angles

If you are aware of Eric's many articles and how he coaches his students then you know how big he am on varying the angles of push/pull in order to hit a muscle in its entirety and recruit as many sets of motor unit pools as possible.

When it comes to training the chest you can press/flye from a decline all the way to a very high incline, with so many angles in between! Vary these angles to fire off every available muscle fiber and make training more fun, productive and interesting!

​Poor ROM (Range of Motion)

Do not tell your friends you can bench press 405 or DB press a pair of 150’s if you are only lowering them halfway to your chest! Eric sees this in the gym (he trains at Gold’s Venice, aka, “The Mecca”) all the time and the one common thing about all of these trainees is their utter lack of pec development.

You want a chest like a super hero? Then cut back a bit on the poundage and start lifting the weight through a FULL RANGE of MOTION – from full stretch to peak contraction.

For more training tips, check out Coach Eric Broser.
set A training session with him to improve your own gym routine or to improve your training techniques for your clients!

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