This article we will see how to develop the pectorals in a complete way by deepening biomechanics, programming and selecting exercises for pectorals, before going to see what are the best exercises for pectorals we must understand the anatomy of this muscle group and its function and deal with the most common false myths: internal pectorals, external pectorals, high pectoral exercises, low chest exercises, changing the shape of the pectorals, etc …
The pectoral ones have three bundles that perform different functions: abdominal bundles (low pectoral), sternocostal bundles (middle pectoral) and clavicular bundles (high pectoral) and there is no anatomical or functional distinction, as many pass on, between «internal» pectorals and «external».
The low chest adducts and extends the humerus on the horizontal and sagittal plane, think of the crosses on the cables to the high cable or on a declined bench
The middle chest adducts the humerus on a horizontal plane, think of the crosses on a flat bench
The high chest adducts the humerus and flexes it on the sagittal and transverse planes, think of the crosses to the cables from the bottom up.
All three bundles are activated in the adduction of the humerus on the transverse plane.
When planning the training of the bibs and deciding the exercises for the bibs that we are going to use, the Roma and the trajectories, we must take this into account.
Thinking about boldenone how to optimize the training of the chest and so for all the other muscles) it is wrong to think only in terms of functional anatomy.
The subjective structure of the person is always the basis from which to start and in the case of the development of the pectorals: ribcage, the levers of the arms, the position of the shoulder blades and shoulders clearly determine the ability to activate and express the strength of the pectorals in the exercises.
These factors must all be carefully considered, in order to make an accurate selection of the pectoral exercises that are more accurate for that subject.
The term «personal» in «personal training» isn’t there by accident after all.
A wider thoracic chest with a sharper sternum angle puts the pectorals in a favorable situation to express force by removing origin and insertion and optimizing the traction angle of the pectoral fibers, a subject with this structure will activate and work the pectorals very well in all push and cross exercises, as long as you do them well.
Note: there are no exercises to enlarge the chest, the structure of the rib cage is individual and, like all bones, development does not grow, but chest mobility can be improved.
This is emphasized when the shoulder blades are adduced and depressed and the dorsal arch is accentuated, consequently, excellent chest mobility in extension is an additional advantage for pectoral training in push and stretch exercises, in fact, it allows you to decline the angle of work recreating the ideal traction angle of the chest fibers which is not perfectly flat but slightly declined.
Exercises for pectoral muscles — interposed shoulders and kyphosis
Having shoulders in front and/or a marked dorsal kyphosis are often things that penalize pectoral training, especially in exercises such as stretching.
Having the shoulders in front makes the classic bench presses that should be chest exercises, exercises in which the shoulders steal a lot of work on the chest.
A structural kyphosis or limited thoracic mobility in extension is penalizing for the training of the pectoral muscles and for this reason in these subjects it is necessary to find the working angles and tools and the best range of movement for each individual subject, in which the pectoral works to the maximum and in safety by limiting the work of the shoulders.
The posture is very important both in training and for the aesthetic rendering of the bibs.
A kyphotic posture penalizes both the training and aesthetics of the chest in general.
If you are strongly kyphotic, it is good to spend a period of time correcting this condition (if possible because it is caused by imbalances, poor proprioception of the muscles of the upper back, and incorrect habits) before dedicating yourself to the muscle-building of the pectoral muscles.
How to correct dorsal kyphosis as far as possible I have discussed it extensively in another article.
The same exercise can be extremely safe and effective, or not at all effective and even dangerous depending on the structure of the person doing it!
How to develop the pectoral muscles in kyphotic subjects? You have to use the right selection of pectoral exercises!
I remember that exercises to enlarge the chest, understood as widening the structure of the rib cage, do not exist.
For example, it is often said that the pullover widens the rib cage but this is obviously false, once the bone structure is mature it cannot be changed .. what for example the pullover and other exercises «to enlarge the chest» can do is improve the chest mobility in some subjects, which gives the illusion of a larger rib cage.
Internal pectorals — The shape of the muscles is given by genetics
Often many guys ask how to improve the shape and fullness of the internal pectoral muscles if there are specific internal pectoral exercises.
If the size of the muscles and the amount of subcutaneous fat that covers them are factors that can be drastically modified with training and nutrition, the shape of the muscles and their overall aesthetic is completely determined by genetics cannot be changed in any way by training or by particular pectoral exercises.
In the chest muscles, the internal pectoral does not anatomically exist and as seen in the previous photo, the shape of the pectoral muscles depends on the muscle belly, the insertion, the skeletal structure and the structure of the underlying rib cage, all things that cannot be changed with training, if a person has flat chest straps can improve their volume but not their shape.
There are therefore no exercises for internal or external bibs.
There are exercises for high pectorals and exercises for low pectorals, to place greater emphasis on these areas.
In addition, the number of initial fibers and their predisposition to grow in response to training is genetic and usually, those with large pectoral muscles have a high number of fibers and in the worst cases it is very difficult to reach large muscle volumes, but this applies to all the muscles.
Furthermore, it is good to remember that the pectorals are a superficial muscle group and that radically changes appearance when you reach low-fat percentages, so it is good to evaluate yourself when you are well defined, especially if you are not a subject with very large and full of fiber pectorals.
However, what has been said so far should not discourage you, even if no one who was born with mediocre genetics on his chest will ever be able to develop Arnold’s pectoral muscles, all of whom can optimize training for their individual characteristics, develop pectoral muscles and get the most out of their genetics (read THIS article on the subject)
Proprioception is fundamental.
Often the problem is the lack of the chest is to feel it little in the exercises because you do not choose the right exercises for the structure of the subject, you do not have the right technique, or you do not take care of posture and mobility.
Developing a good proprioception is the basis, and on this topic, I wrote a detailed guide:
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPRIOCEPTION FOR MUSCLE GROWTH
How to develop bib numbers — Exercises for bib numbers
Barbell stretches are a great exercise to build mass and strength in the upper body thrust muscles, often considered the basis of chest training, but specifically, especially for people with physical structure (chest conformation, mobility, and levers) disadvantageous for these exercises, they may not be among the best chest exercises because the ROM is not complete, the tension is not constant and the stimulus is widely distributed also on the synergic muscles.
However, the mistake of discarding them immediately must not be made, unless there are really extremely disadvantageous physical conformations.
Barbell stretches like the famous flat bench must be learned with the correct technique and the right setup.
Once you have mastered the movement, learning to perform the right scapular adduction, the right mentioned dorsal arch (not emphasized by powerlifter), keep your elbows and wrists in line under the barbell and do not put your shoulders in the push phase while maintaining the set up for the whole series, it is right to evaluate whether the exercise is not suitable or was only performed poorly.
Barbell stretches are a highly synergistic exercise, an exercise that cannot be reduced to being classified as a «chest exercise», it is an exercise for the entire chain of the thrust of the upper body.
Within this thrust chain, depending on the individual structure, there will be individual muscle groups that will be stimulated more or less by the synergistic exercise.
Here is a guide to the Floor Press
Pectoral exercises with dumbbells — bench presses
If the barbell stretches are extremely subject to varying the result according to the structure of the subject, those with dumbbells if well performed represent the main category of exercises to concentrate on to build the bibs.
The Dumbbells allow you to work on independent limbs and control movement in space in all three dimensions, minimizing the work of the triceps and joint stress on the elbow and shoulders allowing you to keep the tension on the chest.
To optimize the activation of the chest, it is important to mentally try to make a convergent movement with the humerus, avoiding to close too much the angle that is formed between the arm and forearm, or rather to think of moving the elbows apart and bringing them closer together, not the hands.
It is good to avoid complete lockout (joint block), where there is no more tension on the chest, and look for excellent muscle stretching under load without forcing it. How much to go down with the elbows down is subjective, you have to get an excellent lengthening of the pectorals but stop before the tension and stress on the front of the shoulders is excessive.
When we train the pectoral muscles, we always remember that it acts on the humerus and not on the hands, so we must pay attention to the elbows rather than the hands during the various movements.
For a complete development of the chest, you have to work all three bundles and then train the stretches on different angles of inclination, it is good practice to cycle the bench inclination between 45 ° and -30 ° (declined)
Here a complete guide:
BENCH DISTENSIONS ON BENCH — BIB — GUIDE
Cable crosses — ring exercises
Given the function of the chest, it is essential to also use exercises that offer resistance with a transverse component that puts resistance differently from the classic dumbbells during different phases of the ROM.
Cables are definitely one of the best ways to achieve this effect: the variations of crosses and strains on the cables are excellent pectoral exercises.
Olympic rings are a very powerful weapon for chest training, but few in the field use them.
Their strength is not instability as many believe, but the ability to modulate the resistance line and perform convergent exercises.
There are excellent pectoral ring exercises and I talked about them in more detail HERE
Here a guide to cable crosses:
High Pectoral Exercises — technical indications
To place emphasis on the training of the high pectoral muscles, it is necessary to select exercises that have the right working angles and the right strength curve.
Basically the things to keep in mind for high chest exercises are:
In order to best work the high pectorals, the traction line of their fibers must be aligned with the resistance and this means that if we use free weights (dumbbells \ barbells) we should work on a bench with an inclined angle, of about 20-30 ° for most people a little more (up to 45-50 °) for subjects with a very large chest and large chest mobility.
If we use cables or machines, we must position ourselves so that the high beams of the bibs are in the right working angle with respect to the resistance (which in this case will not be given by gravity) to work at best
Perform a movement halfway between the horizontal and the frontal plane, then with the elbow not out at 90 ° nor near the side but in an intermediate position.
Note: for subjects with dominant shoulders, a slightly more kyphotic structure and more difficulty in developing the chest, the distension in inclined angles could release too much tension on the front deltoids and little on the high pectorals.
For these subjects, in high chest exercises, it is recommended to use dumbbells to open the kinetic chain, and to make extensive use of adduction exercises (crosses) both with dumbbells and with cables in slightly inclined corners.
Exercises for the bibs
To emphasize the work on the lower bundles of the chest it is important to work in corners that place the fibers of the lower bundles perfectly in line with the resistance.
A general overview of relaxation exercises and working angles based on the subjective structure can be found in this article:
The key points about low pectoral exercises are:
To emphasize the lower bibs, the working angle should be declined not so much in reference to the bench but in reference to the chest fibers and the direction of resistance.
A muscle «pulls» always approaching origin and insertion, for this reason, the exercises (for example the Dip) that see the elbow start behind the bust and finish in front of the bust stimulate the lower pectorals.
For some subjects, some movements such as dips or crosses to perfectly straight high cables (iron cross) can be annoying for the shoulders and must be assessed case by case
Exercises for the chest — use them in the most suitable way
It is good to remember that there are absolutely no «better» exercises than others. Exercises are tools, each one must be adapted and chosen according to the work you want to do.
Exercises that guarantee a good load and a good stretch under load (e.g. Dumbbell Stretches) are excellent for generating mechanical damage and high muscle tension.
The pectoral exercises that guarantee a very strong peak contraction are excellent for high repetition work aimed at the accumulation of metabolites and the pump (e.g. crosses on cables)
Pectoral exercises that involve constant tension throughout the ROM without dead spots and big changes of difficulty during ROM are excellent for working on constant tension and time under tension.
It is good to use both chest exercises that focus on stretching (such as various distensions and crosses with dumbbells) and exercises that focus on maximum shortening (such as cable crosses or machines) work on different working angles, to develop completely chest.
Progression and variety
The most common mistake when trying to specialize a muscle is to overlook the progression of overload in favor of an exasperated variety of exercises.
It is important to use a wide range of movements to fully stimulate a complex and multiplanar muscle group such as the chest, but this must not be at the expense of progression.
Progression is not intended only as the increase in load used in exercises. All training variables can lead to a stimulus progression: volume, density, intensity, frequency.
Developing the bibs — The variables
Volume Intensity and Frequency
The pectoral muscles are a medium-large muscle group that can withstand a large weekly volume and a good frequency and must be taken into account in the creation of a workout.
Universal indications cannot be given, but in a context of specialization, a range of 20-30 weekly series divided into 2-4 workouts can be an excellent starting point.
It is good to modulate the parameters during the various workouts, changing exercise (from the point of view of growth it is preferable not to perform the same exercise more than once a week), range of repetitions and recoveries in addition to the loads used.
In multi-frequency programming, 1-2 exercises per session with 2-4 sessions per week are a good reference.
About how to manage a muscle specialization I talked about it extensively in THIS article.
In THIS article I have proposed a possible specialization program for the bib numbers, in the introduction of which you will reaffirm many of the concepts presented in this article.
Bibs lacking — the causes
Bibs lacking are a fairly common problem among young fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts, what are they due to and how to develop bibs that do not want to grow?
I have already discussed in detail in THIS article the reasons why any muscle group may be deficient, below I summarize the question regarding the pectorals.
Bibs can be deficient for many reasons:
poor proprioception of the muscle group, which is therefore activated little and badly in the various exercises
incorrect technique of performing exercises in which the chest is activated a little, directly connected to the previous point
wrong choice of exercises based on individual structure, not all exercises are good for all subjects and it is necessary to customize ROM and execution based on the subjective structure
work volume and intensity with which the chest muscles train too high or too low
chest training frequency too low, which relates to proprioception and execution technique which are quickly improved with much more frequent workouts
genetics, low number of fibers, poor availability of satellite
Exercises to enlarge the chest
Once the rib cage is finished, development cannot increase its size, exercises such as pullovers cannot flood it, there are no exercises to flood the chest.
Back training, and improved posture and mobility of the shoulders and back, however, can give the impression of having widened the chest, and give many benefits in training the chest.