This is one of the most common questions I am asked:
How do I get a bigger chest?
Not only does it give you the strength for handstands, more push-ups, a better bench press, and a stronger overall upper body – it also gives you a larger presence, makes you feel more confident, and helps your shoulders feel great.
It also helps with sagging chest, shoulder pain, poor posture, and man boobs.
Most of us know that doing push-ups and using weights will help build muscle, but there are many other aspects of fitness that go into maintaining the health of your chest. If you ignore these, then you’re at a huge risk for shoulder injuries that could sideline any upper-body exercise for weeks or months. At best, you are minimizing your potential gains and increasing (not decreasing) your recovery.
Here are my four tips for getting a bigger chest. These are often overlooked, and will help you excel at building a stronger, bigger, and more powerful chest!
1. Mobility Work
In particular, self-myofasical release. Most of us have horrible posture. We sit at work, round our shoulders when we stand, and hunch over our phones. This means that our chest muscles are TIGHT – and not in a 90s cool kind of way. It also means that even if we have a large chest, we aren’t showing it because we don’t have proper posture! The solution to this is using self-myofasical release, a form of soft-tissue manipulation. This accomplishes 2 things in particular: it (1) releases muscle knots, and (2) activates dormant muscle fibers.
- When you release muscle knots, this allows the chest to open up. That means that your chest actually LOOKS bigger. It also allows your muscles to recover more quickly, which means you get STRONGER more quickly.
- Self-myofascial release also helps to activate more muscle. This makes your body able to use more of the muscle during exercise, and that means more strength! This of course leads to bigger muscle. 🙂
2. Controlled flexibility, and strong back muscles.
You’ve got to be have controlled flexibility in order to make your chest stronger. This is where yoga comes in, because of its strong focus on flexibility. The stretch that I’ve included in this photo is a simple strap behind the back stretch, and it improves your chest flexibility while simultaneously strengthening your upper back.
3. A slow, controlled low-plank hold.
This is my favorite yoga exercise for building chest muscle. Lots of guys can do a quick set of push-ups, but not many can actually hold themselves up in a low-plank position for 30, 45, or 60 seconds. This is TOUGH! Not only is it difficult, but it helps you build muscle. Why? Because muscle mass is most effectively built through slow, controlled movement. Quickly moving through the exercise to reach a certain number of reps as fast as possible is great for building explosive strength, but it isn’t as effective at building muscle mass.
The combination of isometric (holding your body in the low-plank position) and eccentric (the negative, lowering down aspect of the push-up) is an extremely effective combination that leads to more muscle mass! You can get an awesome workout for your chest in just a couple of minutes using this technique.
4. Restorative work.
You’ve got to take care of your body! We spend a lot of time on the intense aspects of fitness (the workouts), but most of us don’t spend nearly enough time on recovery. This is why yoga is so important. It allows your tight, tense muscles to stretch and recover. Recovery is the ONLY time your muscles are getting stronger – the stress on your muscles that happens when you workout actually breaks down muscle fibers, it doesn’t make them stronger. You get stronger as a RESULT of the workout. Stretching helps you accelerate your recovery time, and this means you can get stronger, more quickly. The more stretching and flexibility work you do, the faster your muscles will recover!
A simple, but extremely effective stretch for your pecs. Hold for at least 45 seconds on the wall. Focus on pulling your chest away from the elbow on the wall.
These tips will help anyone, whether you’re a bodybuilder, couch potato, or professional athlete.
There’s much more to building a strong chest than just doing the strength exercises. Using the techniques and tips listed above you’ll get stronger more quickly, prevent injury, and even have a larger chest!
Need some more help? I have in-depth tutorials, full-length workouts, and workout programs to help you build chest strength, strong shoulders, and much more in the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area.