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Old 05-13-2008, 09:36 AM   #1
Chris Fisher
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Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

This is a bit of a common question, but I haven't been able to find much that I haven't tried before.

I need help gaining chest muscle mass/strength. Last week doing the Murph I was blowing through the runs, pull-ups and squats, but simply died on the push-ups. This has been a common theme for me for years.

I'm a former rower, now into triathlons w/ WOD supplements 2-3 times a week. I feel like I've tried everything to gain chest strength: was doing just CF for a while, I tried Grease the Groove with push-ups for 3-4 months, was bench pressing for a couple of months, however none gave me much success.

My best max Bench Press ever is 40 lbs under my body weight and the most push-ups in a row I've ever done was 60 after 4 months of GTG. It's not too necessary for triathlons, but I'm worried about muscle imbalance (I can bent over row almost 60 lbs more than I can BP) and it's holding me back on WOD's like The Murph.

Any routine/exercise suggestions for building chest mass/strength? I'm a naturally skinny guy (6'5", 190 lbs) with a metabolism through the roof. I am kind of stuck and out of ideas.

As always, any help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:46 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

Rings pushups and dips. If you can, handstand pushups as well. Planche work, flys, etc. also on rings.

With endurance it's not simply adding muscle mass (or strength). You MUST practice endurance work to get full benefit.
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:09 AM   #3
Chris Fisher
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

Okay I'll have to see about getting some rings. Not done them before, so we'll see where it goes.

Should I be doing chest workouts M/W/F? A little bit each day, GTG style? Or maybe really hard once a week with time to recover?

And thanks for that quick response, Steven.
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:23 AM   #4
Stephen Flamm
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

First and foremost, I echo Steven's advice to start ring work. In addition, if push up endurance is your goal, consider working in an 8-interval Tabata session a couple times a week.
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:29 AM   #5
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

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Originally Posted by Chris Fisher View Post
Okay I'll have to see about getting some rings. Not done them before, so we'll see where it goes.

Should I be doing chest workouts M/W/F? A little bit each day, GTG style? Or maybe really hard once a week with time to recover?

And thanks for that quick response, Steven.
On top of WODS and tri training?

I would suggest GTG if that's the case. You don't need more workouts on top of that.

Take extra rest days as needed if performance decreases.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:32 AM   #6
Timothy Bartee
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

I've typically been tall and thin also. Not as tall or as thin as you however. My bench numbers have stayed the same or gotten worse for years. It gets very frustrating. I've tried many different routines and am fairly new to Crossfit. In the past, the only sure thing I found to help my chest/shoulder/tricep strength was to gain weight.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:54 AM   #7
Chris Fisher
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

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On top of WODS and tri training?

I would suggest GTG if that's the case. You don't need more workouts on top of that.

Take extra rest days as needed if performance decreases.
Currently what I try to do is 3 days on, 1 off. 1st Day Swim and/or cycle. 2nd WOD. 3rd is long run + whatever I didn't do day 1.

I may drop every other WOD and just focus on the rings. Also, after taking a look at the planche progression I'll try adding that into the end of every workout.

Tim -- I've tried gaining weight as well. My natural weight is around 184 lbs, and it has taken me roughly 4 months to gain 6 lbs. On top of these rings I'm going to try and alter my diet again and keep adding muscle mass. I have a sneaking suspicion that my uber small pecs are a significantly limiting factor.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:15 PM   #8
Robert Callahan
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

I can sympathise with you being a taller skinny guy. What has helped me a ton with chest strength, and just strenght in general, was the book Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Using the program in this book i went in 4 weeks from a 5 rep max bench of 150 to 175, my body weight is 180, so i was just shy of body weight but i should have done at least 2 months not just one... It basically goes over lifts and then has a starting program from beginners to maximize strength gains. Only thing is with all the other stuff you are training for you probably don't have time or energy to add a whole nother layer of training. Maybe if you plan for like 6-9 months off in between events you could do a month or two of strength training and then come back to marathon training? That will probably be the most effecient way to get bigger/stronger though it will interupt your other work. Anyways hope something in there helps, good luck!

-Robert
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:17 PM   #9
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Bartee View Post
I've typically been tall and thin also. Not as tall or as thin as you however. My bench numbers have stayed the same or gotten worse for years. It gets very frustrating. I've tried many different routines and am fairly new to Crossfit. In the past, the only sure thing I found to help my chest/shoulder/tricep strength was to gain weight.
Good thing bench numbers mean very in terms of athletic performance, eh?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Fisher View Post
Currently what I try to do is 3 days on, 1 off. 1st Day Swim and/or cycle. 2nd WOD. 3rd is long run + whatever I didn't do day 1.

I may drop every other WOD and just focus on the rings. Also, after taking a look at the planche progression I'll try adding that into the end of every workout.

Tim -- I've tried gaining weight as well. My natural weight is around 184 lbs, and it has taken me roughly 4 months to gain 6 lbs. On top of these rings I'm going to try and alter my diet again and keep adding muscle mass. I have a sneaking suspicion that my uber small pecs are a significantly limiting factor.
Your lack of chest development is a bit of a bias towards triceps strength as opposed to pecs (like I have as my triceps are dominant) which isn't necessarily an indicator of anything here. It is what it is... although to bring up the strength you need to focus on contracting those muscle groups during the exercises you are doing. That will bring it up much more than randomly going around trying different exercise.

GTG would be fine for you. Especially on rings.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:40 PM   #10
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Re: Chest Muscle/Strength Gain?

Thanks for the advice. I'll GTG as soon as I get my hands on some rings.
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