Heavy compound exercises are known as one of the main exercises for gaining muscle mass and they should be included in your chest training.
There are a lot of opinions regarding bodybuilding, but when it comes to the best chest workout, every bodybuilder will agree that compound exercises are a must and need to be performed first, and the isolation exercises need to be last.
Also, every exercises has its benefits and drawbacks, so you need to plan your training so it enables the maximum muscle activation.
When it comes to chest workouts, there are a lot of different exercises you can combine and get the best training there is.
But firstly, let’s see the basics of the chest workouts – the chest press.
You should start the chest workout with heavy compound presses which will help you overload your chest and not feel any fatigue in your pecs.
That way you will achieve the maximum tension and include the most muscle fibers. By using presses you can add more weight and track your progress.
There are many variations of the press with which you will target the chest and we advise you to try all of them.
However, the dumbbell and barbell presses are the main chest movements you should use to build your strength and gain muscle mass. The barbell press is the most used exercise for a very long time, but dumbbells have a lot of perks.
So we’ve decided to compare both exercises and help you start your chest routine with the knowledge you need to get the results you want.
1.Range of Motion
The main function of the pectoral muscles is to help you move your arms to the front, by pulling and contracting the upper part of the arms to the middle part of the chest.
You probably know that if you go through the entire range of motion you include the maximum number of muscle fibers and encourage more muscle growth. But, the biggest problem with the barbell presses is they bound the range of motion and decrease it to a short up and down motion by locking your arms in one position and restricting the distance of moving.
Which means that if you use a barbell you can’t reach the full potential of the exercises that need the full movement.
By using dumbbells you’re able to use the full range of motion because your arms aren’t locked into a single position.
If you compare the highest positions of the barbell and the dumbbell press you can see that the dumbbell press enables you to move your arms more and further. Because of this, the dumbbell presses allow your pecs to move more and work better by staying in a constant tension.
A lot of people have problems with a more dominant side of their body which is probably caused mostly by workouts without balance and genetic predispositions. It’s hard to change this without the right knowledge and hard work.
Each time you exercise, your dominant side will probably be more stressed and targeted than your weaker side, thus increasing the imbalance even more.
The results of this in the long term can be damaged aesthetics, increased risk of injury and reduced stability. Intense barbell press workouts can cause even bigger problems and cause enormous size and strength imbalance in the upper body.
If you use a barbell, your hands move outward while pressing the weight. This push triggers other muscles, like the biceps and the triceps, while accenting their role. This decreases the stimulus for growth, which you probably don’t want.
If you want to enable full tension on the muscles, your pecs should be doing the most of the work during every repetition. Dumbbells allow you to put a little more tension on your chest than the barbell does.
Also, they can keep the muscles in a constant tension thanks to the bigger range of motion.
Besides, a lot research proved that if you compare the barbell and the dumbbell versions, dumbbells have more perks when it comes to muscle activation.
A study from the York University has tested this using electromyography and found that all the versions of the dumbbell press (incline, decline and flat) can activate more pectoral fibers that the barbell presses.
Even though you can lift heavier weights if you use the barbell, this is isn’t enough to allow optimal muscle growth. If you use dumbbells you can increase the effectiveness of the lifting by amplifying the duration and volume of the tension.
So in conclusion, to get the results you want, you need to make combinations of both exercises in your training.