Discover How To Work The Angles To Build A Bigger Chest And Back.
Are you looking to add more muscle to your chest or back? Especially through the upper chest and mid back.
If so, you’ll want to check out the video below.
Pro bodybuilder Ben “the Pak Man” Pakulski talks about how adding different angles to your back and chest workout routines can stimulate muscles, break plateaus, and maximum growth.
How to Train Your Chest and Back by Ben Pakulski
Most people know a few good exercises for thier chest training and back routines but quickly veer off course when it comes to execution. Technique and exercise order seem to suffer.
In the video you’ve seen Ben provide deep insight into how to train for a full chest and back.
His approach to bodybuilding is a little different than most. He’s much more methodical and thought out than many other bodybuilders. This is good for you.
Because he puts so much thought into his training and workouts you’ll find that he can clearly explain the methods to get the most out of your chest and back training.
Training for the chest and back can be approached in a very similar manner so it ‘s easy to group them in a single video like Ben has done.
Look at your program. Take a look at a few others too. You’ll notice most people start with flat barbell bench press when training chest. Next up is usually incline bench.
Now, both of those exercises are good choices. That doesn’t mean all it well. Things tend to derail quickly. Too often exercises are done in random order. Like bench press is followed up by flat bench dumbbell press.
There are a few reasons why following up flat bench with DB bench isn’t a good idea.
As Ben points out, your chest has the ability to contract muscle in multiple planes. If you’re constantly working flat then incline, your missing out on major chest development. You’re missing out on even more if you chose to flat barbell then flat dumbbell.
You’re only working in one or two different planes. If you have a big arch in your back on incline presses then you’re back down to 1 angle.
Chest muscle get activated everywhere along a continuum from overhead to decline.
For maximum growth it's important that you pay attention to each angle that gets worked, and not worked.
To maintain proper angles it’s important that the back doesn’t go into hyperextension. Stabilizing the core will keep everything tight and your angles on point.
Don’t do this and you’ll end up neglecting all kinds of muscle fibers in the upper chest. That’s often what happens when people complain about weak or lagging upper chest development.
Once you understand the angles, you can see that makes total sense. The hyperextension has prevented the upper chest from getting worked. Of course it’s going to lag behind.
Don’t be afraid to go up to what people would consider a shoulder angle when doing incline chest presses. It will primarily hit your front delts, but it will also get those upper chest fibers that may otherwise not be hit.
Ben’s Approach To Training Chest
If using dumbbells…
Start out on a flat bench. Do a set. Then raise the bench a notch and do another set.
The angles may look like this:
Personally I like to hit it opposite of Ben.
If you start out by doing flat dumbbell presses the amount of weight you can use when you get to 90 degrees will be severely limited. Fatigue and the steep angle won't allow you to go heavy.
I prefer to work from high to low because it allows you to work with the same weight and you get to hit the steep angles with a decent weight. As fatigue builds and the angle of the bench decreases you're moving to a slightly easier exercise. This will allow you to keep using heavier dumbbells.
I'll start out with the bench's back just below 90 degrees. If it doesn't allow for that many different angles, I'll start out at 90 degrees.
From there I drop it a notch after each set ending one notch above flat.
I find that makes a good place to stop because I usually do flat bench press first. I don't see a need to repeat it with dumbbells. Plus I like to get more sets in hitting the upper chest.
If you were to do it on a day that there wasn't any flat pressing, feel free to go all the way down.
At an angle of 90 degrees you'll see a lot of people raise their chest. Their hips may even scoot forward. This decreases the angle making it easier.
To combat this Ben suggests you lock down your core. This will to make sure you're pressing vertically.
If this isn't something you normally do...
expect to use lighter weights.
You may be wondering how angles relate to training back.
Well, it's the exact same principle.
Most people do rows and pull downs or pull ups to train back.
Just like with chest training you'll see people really arch either their lumbar spine (low back). Nothing wrong with that, it's just not optimal.
Just like with chest training it's best to hit every angle we can. Train it in multiple planes. Hit more muscle fibers where they can exert maximum force.
As you go through each angle you'll hit overlapping muscle fibers. Thats fine. We're worried about those that generally get missed so every muscle fiber in your back is attacked exerting maximum force.
How to Attack Back Angles
Start by using an angle and grip you're weakest. It's almost a 100% guarantee that you're weakest straight overhead with a pronated (overhand) grip.
This is generally weak because it's rare that this angle ever gets hit.
To get a true pull down at a 90 degree angle sit up tall contract your abs and reach back. Don't go behind your head. This is a great way to hurt your shoulders.
Once you've hit that angle then it's fine to lean back and work every angle in between.
There really isn't a need to focus on a single plane. Just make sure you get as much of a range and variation as you can.
Know Your Angles
Most people have a good idea what part of the chest is getting the brunt of the load. The back is a little different.
A good way to know what part of your back you're hitting is to think about where your elbows are pointing. Where they point is where they target your back.
Go attack those angles and watch your chest and back explode with new growth.