Getting a well-toned and defined chest is no easy task, but by following a few simple tips, the process can be made much simpler.
Pre-workout Tip – The Warm-up
Before beginning any workout, and a chest workout especially, a warm-up is key. This warm-up lays outside and above the “three ways” mentioned above, and can be the difference between the success and failure of any workout plan.
A warm-up should start with a small amount of cardio simply to get the body moving, the blood flowing and the body’s temperature rising, according to a Macrh 20, 2009 article from the Mayo Clinic. A few minutes on a exercise bike or treadmill, some laps around the room or even jumping-jacks – almost anything will work as long as it gets the body warmed up.
The next part of a warm-up should be to stretch the muscles that are going to be used. The key is slow, steady movements. Jerking or pulling on the muscles could result in a strain or tear which would sideline the entire workout program. Several excellent chest workout stretches can be found here.
Workout Tip #1 – Variety
One of the best chest exercises out there is the simple push up. It can produce excellent results and definition in the chest area and only requires a floor and the user’s own body weight. Other methods, such as the bench press or chest fly require weights or weight machines. But regardless of the exercises chosen, the key remains the same – variety.
Human physiology is such that we adapt to repetitively performed tasks. This means that if one type of push up is done for a chest workout, the body will find ways to become “good” at the them, which will limit their effectiveness.
Fortunately, push ups come with a myriad of options, so with a little imagination, a workout including them need never be boring. There are wide-fly push ups, where the arms are out wider than shoulder width while doing the push up, “military” push ups, in which the arms are tucked in close to the sides of the chest, and “decline” push ups, where the feet are up on a table or chair while the exercise is being done.
The advantage here is that each of these different push up types works a different part of the pectoral muscle, leading to a more balanced look. For a longer list of push up choices, take a look at this site.
Workout Tip #2 – Precision
As tempting as it may be to fire off as many repetitions of a push up or bench press as possible in the hopes of achieving a toned look sooner, that is not always the best idea. Every exercise should be performed with as close to perfect form as possible. This helps to keep the body safer from injury and will also maximize results more quickly.
This means that, for example, when a bench press is being performed, the goal is to keep the bar as level as possible when both raising and lowering it. As well, if the exercise comes to a point where the bar can no longer be lowered safely but crashes into the bar rests, it is time to stop.
A push up should be done with a straight body, and the head and eyes looking slightly forward instead of straight down. If the hips begin to drop and the body begins to bow, it is time to stop and move on.
When any exercise is carried out correctly, a more targeted muscle fatigue will result. In plain English, this means that the right muscle will be tired at the right time, leading to a better result.
Workout Tip #3 – Effort
The idea behind any chest workout is to maximize the effort output, which will in turn yield the best results. Many men give up before they are truly tired because their chest hurts and they believe to go on would be impossible, or would be a bad idea due to the pain.
The key to remember is that any new chest training plan will come with some discomfort as lactic acid builds up after the workout, making the next time around that much more difficult, as described in the January 23, 2006 article from Scientific American. As well, the muscles should be fatigued, which will be painful at the beginning of the workout.
This will dissipate both over the course of the workout, and over the course of time. When a chest workout no longer tires out muscles or causes any discomfort whatsoever, it is time to move on, as the body has adapted to the current routine and a shake-up is in order.
The rule of thumb with any chest workout is to output maximum effort. Once the workout is over, it should leave the body tired and the arms and chest feeling too weak to go on.
After The Workout
After the workout, protein is essential, and its benefits are described more thouroughly in this article at Men’s Total Fitness. The easiest form to take it in is a powder, mixed with milk or water. Protein will help speed muscle recovery for the next session.
With these simple tips in mind, any one can get started on the path to a toned and well-defined chest.