A chest workout for hardgainers must do more than just advise you to train heavy. Heavy lifting is important for hardgainers to begin to build muscle mass and size, however it isn’t the only key element of shoulder training. In this video, I’m going to show you how important it is to learn how to lift lighter on certain exercises and how to lift heavier on the right chest exercises, if you want to start adding serious size fast to your chest or pecs.
Before even getting started however, one of the most effective chest workout tips I could give anyone (not just a skinny guy looking to add muscle) is to train shirtless. Now of course, this advice is best followed if you are training in the comfort of your own home gym! That said, many hardgainers find themselves in this exact situation because they feel self conscious about going to the gym and training in front of the much larger and more muscular guys.
When you train without a shirt, you not only face your insecurities but you allow yourself a chance to watch your muscles as they work and use the visual feedback to more accurately focus your effort on the muscles you are actually trying to build. Let’s face it, if you are a beginner lifter or are not carrying large amounts of muscle you are likely not mastering the mind muscle connection with the muscles you are trying to develop. You don’t have the “feel” of what the muscle is supposed to feel like that you are training.
Training shirtless allows you to watch the muscle contract and therefore tweak your form to enable a stronger contraction in the target muscles. When you do this, you will be surprised just how much quicker you can get that muscle to respond.
Next, you will want to start with a few chest exercise activation tips to help you build a bigger chest. The most important thing you can learn how to do is to press with your chest and not your front delts or shoulders. This is easier said than done. You can learn how to activate the often dormant scapular muscles that increase your awareness of how this should feel by starting with a few sets of scapular hanging pulls. From here, do some standing barless chest presses to ensure that your shoulders are staying back and that the press is coming from the chest muscles.
You will then head to the bench press where you will face your typical hardgainer insecurity of the amount of weight that is on the bar that you are pressing. The big mistake is to think that it is not macho to be benching lighter weights. This doesn’t matter since trying to push weights you can’t handle will do nothing to help your chest grow. Start with a weight you can control and learn to press it correctly with your chest instead of your shoulders.
That said, heavy weight lifting is important for overloading the muscles of a hardgainer to build more muscle size and strength. We can do that with the use of touch up sets. These allow you to feel the heavier weights (generally 20 percent heavier than what you will use in your working sets of 6-8 reps). Just unrack the weights a few times and rack them again to feel what it is like. From here, perform one touch up set with the pins set high to allow you to get as many reps and then safely let the bar rest on the pins. You have neurologically awakened your muscles to the heavier weight and allowed your body to become more confident in the weight you will use for your working sets.