How to Build a Bigger, Stronger Chest

How to Build a Bigger, Stronger Chest

A strong, muscular chest can help you to stand out in the gym, and in life.

Unfortunately, many people can become confused by the information overload surrounding best training practices. Because of this, they fail to provide the muscle with the necessary stimulus needed to promote growth over time.

We need a simple, yet effective approach to chest training. One that will work for lifters and fitness enthusiasts of all experience levels. Nick Bare, Founder of Bare Performance Nutrition, exemplifies a Hybrid Athlete approach to training, and in doing so has a wealth of knowledge in the training space.

Using Nick’s formula, this article will provide you with valuable tips, tricks, and strategies to make noticeable strength and hypertrophy gains in your chest.

The chest can be worked through 3 planes of motion, with the goal of activating both heads (upper & lower) of the pectoral muscle. When Nick programs his chest training sessions, he makes sure to plan for each of the following patterns of movement:

  1. Flat Press
  2. Incline Press
  3. Cross Body Fly

To promote growth of the muscle, you must stress it through progressive training. Failure to overload each of these movement patterns means that you could be leaving gains on the table.

Now that we understand the basics, let’s get into the step-by-step approach to growing your chest!

An often-overlooked aspect to muscle growth is the ability to focus and train with intention. To show up as the best version of yourself to a session, consider Nick’s BPN pre-workout supplements of choice!

Flight / Pre-Workout

Embrace tunnel vision focus, elevated levels of power output, and increased energy. Our signature pre-workout is formulated with trusted ingredients like CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine and Caffeine Anhydrous; with an effectiveness that’s proven by your results.

Endopump / Muscle Pump Enhancer

Step into a world of stronger mind-muscle connection and more purposeful workouts. Through increased blood flow, nitric oxide production, and oxygen delivery, you can be more deliberate and focused on the tension and muscular contractions during your sessions.

Creatine Monohydrate / Creapure

Being the most widely studied supplement in the fitness industry, creatine is proven to increase muscle mass, strength, power, and performance. BPN sources through Creapure, the purest form of creatine monohydrate in the world.

For best results, mix these supplements together in 12-20 ounces of water and consume 30 minutes prior to your training session!

Warm-up Routine:

If you want to perform at a high-level, you need to emphasize the warm-up portion of your training sessions.

Nick says that he sees a big difference in performance on days where he primes his body through cardio, as opposed to days where he doesn’t. In just 10 minutes, you can elevate your heart rate, promote blood flow, and awaken mind and body, preparing it to move big weight!

*You can use cardio equipment of your choice, just make sure to maintain a raised heart rate.

Specific to a chest training workout, it’s important to warm-up your upper body and rotator cuffs. Do the following two movements before every chest workout to stay mobile and injury resistant.

  1. Use a band to open your torso, promoting greater range of motion during the workout.
  2. Perform 2-3 sets per side of internal and external rotations with a light dumbbell to promote strong, healthy rotator cuffs.

Once you’ve readied your body for the work ahead, you can attack the main movements of your strength and hypertrophy training!

Compound Movements/Strength:

The barbell bench press is the compound movement of choice for many who aim to develop strength and size in the chest.

Compound movements, such as the squat, bench, and deadlift, are the most effective means for providing the body with a necessary stimulus for growth, because they recruit multiple muscle groups throughout the movement.

For instance, a bench press works not only the chest, but also the shoulders and triceps. This is especially true during heavier or more fatiguing sets, when the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is the highest.

When training compound exercises, it’s crucial to practice proper form and technique. The ability to lift more efficiently will keep you safe and healthy, so that you can become stronger over time, with no hinderances.

Below are three cues that Nick focuses on every time that he sets up on the bench press:

  1. Shoulder blades tight – your shoulders should be pinned down to the pad of the bench. Stability in the upper half of your body will help you to perform the press most effectively.
  2. Butt on the bench – this cue serves as the second point of contact for your body. Keeping your butt on the bench will help you to maintain tightness through your core and legs.
  3. Drive through the heels – like all compound movements, the bench press is a full-body lift. By driving through your heels, you can better recruit your legs into the movement.

Once form and technique are dialed-in, you can strive to progressively add weight and reps to your training.

For compound movements, it’s most effective to train in lower rep ranges. During these heavier sets, you can place your focus primarily on force production and power output, providing your muscles with an important stimulus for growth.

Secondary Movements/Hypertrophy:

To best balance strength and hypertrophy, train compound movements first, followed by secondary exercises that focus on tissue growth, as opposed to solely strength gain.

To promote the growth of any muscle, you must first break it down through your training. Higher rep sets of 8,10,12, or 15+ reps promote tissue damage. Pair these longer sets with shorter rest periods (45-90 seconds), and you can best promote the hypertrophy of your muscle fibers.

These secondary exercises are also a great opportunity to incorporate incline and cross body movement patterns into your chest training.

A sample of the hypertrophy portions of Nick’s Chest Training Sessions are as follows:

Understanding Training Volume:

All great training has one thing in common: it measures and manipulates volume, to encourage progress.

For the purposes of strength training, volume can be improved through any of the following factors:

  1. Weight Lifted
  2. Reps Performed
  3. Sets Completed

Over time, you should see an increase in training volume through one or more of the above measurements.

When done properly, your body grows stronger as an adaptation to the increased training stimulus.

Techniques:

Below are some specific strategies that Nick implements into his training to increase total volume, and further stress the muscles being trained.

  1. AMRAP sets – Completing a movement to complete muscle failure.
  2. Supersets – 2 movements paired together, completed back-to-back with no rest between each.
  3. Compound sets – 3 or more movements completed sequentially, with no rest in between.

These techniques are a great way to stress and grow any muscle, but above all else, focus on the basics of progressive overload and strength development over time, to achieve best results!

Fuel Your Muscles:

Training is just one piece to the puzzle when it comes to strength and hypertrophy development.

When we break our muscles down, we must build them back up through recovery. A primary way that we do this is through nutrition, specifically in consuming adequate amounts of quality protein that aid in the repair and rebuilding of muscle tissue.

Surprisingly enough, many people struggle to fuel their muscles appropriately, before, during, and after training. If this is you, consider including the following supplements into your diet.

Whey Protein Powder – A perfectly balanced blend of 88% fast-acting whey and 12% slow-digesting casein proteins, this product is the best choice for flavor, mixability, and digestibility. And unlike many other protein products on the market, Informed Protein tests and verifies that that every scoop of BPN Whey contains the listed 25 Grams of protein.

Vegan Protein Powder – This naturally sweetened, plant-based protein blend provides athletes with 20 grams of protein per scoop, from ingredients such as pea, watermelon seed, and pumpkin seed proteins. And because it’s formulated with an effective digestive enzyme blend, this product will promote optimal digestion and nutrient absorption of your daily diet.

Collagen Protein – Sourced from grass-fed bovine collagen peptides, the benefits of this product reach well beyond muscle repair. Just one scoop per day supports strong bones, joints, and ligaments, ensuring that your body is healthy and prepared for each training session.

Strong Food – Crafted from real food ingredients, this product is much more than a snack. With just one serving (3 scoops) of this supplement, you receive whole food nutrition in the form of carbs, fat, and protein, formulated with quality as the top priority.

Want to follow an effective training plan that promotes both strength and hypertrophy gain?

Subscribe to Nick’s Training App and get the first month for just $1!

Within the app, you will have access to multiple training programs, from the Hybrid Athlete series, Go One More Daily, and his latest style of training, the Strong Athlete program.

Don’t wait. Find your potential and start the process of becoming better each day!

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