The ability to push with your arms is predominately due to the strength in your chest. You can build strength and size in the major chest muscle, the pectoralis major, with a workout plan that features three workouts per week. The bench press targets the chest. Your bench press and chest workout can be performed at a maximum of three days per week.
Fit in three chest workouts per week. Your pectoralis major needs about 48 hours of rest in between training sessions for it to be adequately healed and developed. Not allowing your chest enough recovery time will adversely affect your results, so skip a day in between chest workouts.
Start your first chest workout of the week with the bench press. Bodybuilding.com recommends that you only perform the bench press one day per week. Therefore, your other two chest workouts during the week should consist of other chest exercises.
Perform the bench press with correct technique. Lie on your back on a flat bench with your eyes set directly underneath the racked barbell. Grab the bar with your hands placed slightly wider than your shoulders. Pick up the bar from the rack so that the weight is on your arms, and slide your arms forward so that the bar is now in line with your chest. Lower the bar towards your chest by bending your elbows and flaring them out to your sides. Stop the bar just short of making contact with your torso and then extend your arms to return the barbell to the starting position.
Complete the bench press at a volume of five sets of five repetitions. As you start out, begin with a weight that’s lighter than what you would use normally for the bench press. On the following week, bump up the weight by five pounds and perform the same workout. Every week, increase the weight by five pounds until you can’t lift a heavier weight. This workout plan allows you to increase the amount of weight you bench press while allowing your muscles enough time to adapt to the stress.
Select other chest strength exercises to include in your workouts. You can further develop your chest with the chest fly, pullover and pushups, for example.
Complete the chest fly and pullover at a volume of three sets of eight to 10 repetitions for each. Do three sets of pushups, with each set consisting of the maximum number of repetitions you can do.
- Change up your bench press workout every once in a while by using a pair of dumbbells. This forces each of your upper limbs to work independently.
- Doing the bench press could be dangerous as you're holding a weighted barbell over your head. Recruit a friend to act as a spotter to reduce your risk of injury.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.