It’s easy to get carried away with strength/size and lose sight of flexibility. I deal with several clients who want to build a massive chest and most of them think the best method is to spend most of their gym time on the bench press. I tried that method myself, never worrying about flexibility or the relationship of my chest to it’s other supporting muscles. As a result, my chest tightened up over time, leaving me stuck in a plateau with no idea how to continue making gains.
When I first tried the stretch shown in the video, my chest was so tight that I couldn’t get it to relax (my back locked up first), so I figured maybe this stretch didn’t work, or that I wasn’t as tight as I thought. But it turned out, my chest was so tight from all that lifting that it just locked up through the stretch, a very common response. The point i’m making here is that if this stretch isn’t very simple and straightforward to you, if your chest doesn’t freely lengthen within the first 20 seconds, there is a very good chance that you chest is far too tight to perform optimally. Gaining flexibility in the affected muscles will grant a larger range of motion, which in turn leads to more progress.
Walk up to a door frame, make a right angle at your elbow joint as shown in the video, place your hand/forearm against the door frame and take a step forward with the leg on the same side as the Pec you’re stretching. Don’t lean forward; do that very last, when all other checkpoints are met and you can feel your chest elongating. Keep your sternum high and shoulders back, bringing your awareness to your chest muscle. Paint it’s shape in your mind using the picture provided below and visualize the muscle relaxing, elongating, becoming pliable. Sometimes I envision the muscle I’m stretching as water, free-flowing and relaxing in every direction. Try all kinds of visualization techniques and see what works for you!
Only lean forward when you feel your chest elongating, and make sure the chest stretch is what is allowing you to lean forward; don’t move any other unrelated muscles unless the chest itself lengthens and grants you more room to do so. If you focus on how far forward you can lean instead of focusing on your chest lengthening, you won’t get the same result if you get any at all.
Once you’ve mastered the single arm stretch, you can try both arms at the same time, keeping in mind all the same rules. When used daily, this stretch can really help to balance out the strength-flexibility relationship of your chest, open up your entire shoulder girdle, improve your posture and blow the ceiling of your chest gains!