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You may think a massive amount of equipment and machines are needed to cultivate large, hypertrophied pectorals, but this isn't so. While added resistance through free weights or some other form of equipment is commonplace, hypertrophy chest training can also be done simply using your own body weight and innovative exercises. Exhausting muscles through multiple sets is the fundamental rule of hypertrophy training. Therefore, by attacking your chest with several body weight exercises per training session, you can experience the stimulation required for muscle growth.
Exercise your pectoral muscles at least two times per week with a minimum of 24 hours between each training session. You can train your pectorals as part of a whole body single training session, or you can split up training into muscle-specific days. For example, train your chest and shoulders on Monday, quadriceps and back muscles on Tuesday and so forth, until all major muscle groups are trained.
Perform two to three sets of 12 to 20 repetitions of the standard pushup. While traditional hypertrophy training involves lifting heavy weights to fatigue muscles in a limited number of sets and repetitions, gaining mass with your bodyweight follows a different formula. Lower yourself to the floor and position your hands shoulder-width apart while supporting your lower body by resting on your toes. Keep your back as straight as possible and your head in a neutral position. Slowly lower your chest toward the floor and stop when you're one to two inches above the ground. Press through your palms to return to the starting position.
Vary your routine with a wide-grip pushup. Failing to add variations to your exercises causes your muscles to adapt to specific movements so that they are no longer challenged. Begin this exercise as you would with the standard pushup but place your hands five to six inches wider than your shoulders. While keeping your back as straight as possible, lower your chest until it's two inches from the floor and immediately push through your palms and return to the starting position. Control this movement by taking two seconds to lower your chest and one second to push back to the starting position.
Target your pectorals from a different angle with a decline pushup. Rest your feet on a weight bench, box or some other sturdy object that will elevate your feet at least 12 inches off the floor. After propping up your feet, carefully walk your hands out away from your feet and position them in the standard pushup position. While keeping your abdominals contracted and your back straight, lower your chest until it's two inches from the ground. Then push back to the starting position. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by resting your feet on a stability ball, which requires extra balance.
Isolate the large front-facing pectoral muscle, also known as the sternal head pectoral muscle, with incline pushups. Face a weight bench or platform and grasp the edge of the bench while keeping your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. While firmly grasping the edge of the bench or platform, walk your feet out behind you until your back is straight. Engage by tightening your abdominals and lowering your chest to the bench. Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible. Stop when your chest is one to two inches from the bench edge. Press through your palms to the starting position and repeat.
Target the pectoral sternal head muscle group again by doing chest dips. Position your body on the wide dip bar so your hands are directly underneath your shoulders. Grasp both hands on the parallel bars so your forearms point toward your hips. Lift your feet off the ground and bend your knees while slightly leaning your chest forward. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. Stop when you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles. Push back up until your elbows are fully extended.
- Execute each repetition in a two-second lowering period and a one-second lifting phase. Slowing down each repetition intensifies the movements.
- If you aren't yet strong enough to do a classic pushup on your hands and toes, start with your knees on the ground and raise your feet off the ground, bending your ankles.