Arnold is the history of bodybuilding; he was one of the best bodybuilders of his era, the golden era. His volume, his muscles, his body was the synonymous of perfection and elegance.
I was always impressed by his massive chest shaped like armour.
The chest is composed of two muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
The major pectoralis is the strongest and bigger of the two, it has origin from sternum (sternal head) and medial clavicle (clavicular head); his insertion is the intertubercular groove of humerus. The actions of major pectoralis are adduction and internal rotation of the humerus. It is innerved from medial and lateral pectoral nerves (C5-6). The major pectoralis can be divided in to three portions: clavicular portion, which has origin from clavicle, sternal portion and costal portion (we consider them as one portion), where they are originated from sternum and ribs. All of the portions are inserted in the intertubercular groove of humerus, which resemble a cross because the insertion of sternal-costal portion is a little bit higher and below that the clavicular portion.
The function of pectoral major and minor are:
The pectoral minor originates from the third to the fifth rib and inserts in the coracoid process of the scapula. It is innervated from medial and lateral pectoral nerves (C6-T1).
The pectoral minor is under the pectoral major and its functions are to pull the scapula, abduction and depression of ribs. So, the pectoral minor elevates the ribs (third - fifth) and expands the ribcage, especially during the inhalation.
The myths of chest...
The myth about higher chest and lower chest is true; our chest is constituted of two portions: the sternum-costal portion and the clavicular portion; so the clavicular portion is in called higher chest and the sternum-costal portion (more the costal portion) lower chest.
Another myth is about external and internal chest, most of my clients ask: "how can I work my internal chest?" and here is where we need to boost the myth: internal and external chest does not exist. Because of how chest is composed in clavicular portion, sternal portion and costal portion and the way they contract, their fibres are shortened, creating tension along the length of the muscle and not transversely. When you feel pain in your internal chest or external chest it is not because you worked more either, but the discomfort is caused by the tissues micro lesion from resistance training, and also into external and internal portion of chest there are tendons and myo-tendinous junctions, delicate areas which are sensitive to stretching and full of pain receptors.
On more myth, is the pullover a good exercise for the chest? There is a lot to talk about pullover, but yes, the dumbbell pullover works well for chest: it is not the best exercises for it, but it does work. Because during the dumbbell or barbell pullover stresses the sternal-costal portion of chest more that the lat dorsal.
The chest is one of the biggest muscles in our body, especially the major pectoralis; to bulk well our advice is to work every part of this muscle, sternal head and clavicular head with multijoints exercises and single-joint exercises. With these you can improve your strength and also help you build a massive chest.
Let's have a look the exercises, the difference between them and how to bulk pectorals.
Barbell bench press: this is one of the big exercises you should never miss in your workout, also like a squat, deadlift. You can improve your strength a great deal with this exercise. The exercise targets on the pectorals, in particular the sternal-costal part of chest, working also with triceps and front deltoid. Lying on a flat bench, plant your feel firmly on the floor, bend the shoulder blades and arch of the back. Line your chin with the barbell bar; hold the bar with thumbs around it. Lift the bar up slowly, it should be over the middle portion of chest, the elbows should be in line with shoulder while flexing them at about 45⁰, to keep your shoulders joints safe. Contract your chest muscles and slowly return the bar in line with your shoulder and repeat it. When you bend your shoulder blades you gain a bigger range of motion therefore stretching your chest more during the eccentric phase and keeping your shoulders safe.
Dumbbells bench press: the target of this exercise is the pectoralis, in particularly the sternal-costal part of chest, triceps and deltoid. It's similar to the Barbell bench press but with dumbbells you can stretch your chest more during the eccentric phase and have a large range of motion and more free movement where you need the skill to balance of dumbbells. Same as the barbell bench press, when you're lowering the dumbbells, middle chest area, always with elbow at 45⁰, stretch your chest a bit more and go up again contract your chest in all concentric phase and squeeze you chest when the dumbbells are up. You could also try to do a small intra rotation to squeeze your chest more.
Barbell incline bench press: this one is hybrid between barbell bench press and military press, aims at the clavicular portion of chest also the triceps and front deltoids. The bench should be positioned at 45⁰ inclined. Lie on the bench, under the bar, and adduce your scapula. Grab your bar little bit wider than your shoulder, the elbows at 90⁰. Lift the bar and start lowering it down at mid-chest and up again in line with your shoulder, not your face, because we need the flexed at 90 with your body, in this way you keep safe your shoulders.
Dumbbells incline bench press: the technique is not much different from the previous, but like always when you use the dumbbells you have bigger range of motion and better stretch more during the eccentric phase.
Barbell decline bench press: obviously the difference is decline, more is decline bench, which will make you work with the lower chest (sternal-costal portion) that the clavicular portion. Lie on the decline as we described before, grab the bar, with your elbows always at 90⁰, lift the bar and when is up make sure is at 90⁰ with your body and no more, to avoid injuries to your shoulders. When you have lifted the bar, lower it down with your lower chest and then go back up. Always remember to squeeze your chest in the concentric phase.
Dumbbells decline bench press: this more used that the barbell decline bench press, easier to do with barbell especially with heavy weight. The target is the same at before, the sternal-costal portion of chest, when you lift your dumbbells make sure they are at 90⁰ with your body, go in down and keep your elbows a 90⁰ from your arms and at 45⁰ with your shoulders. Keep the dumbbells near the low chest and stretch your chest well and then go up again.
Dips: this exercises in multijoints because his joints that are working are shoulder and elbows. Always start with your elbows locked; arms straight and always put your scapula in adduction to protect your shoulders. To start bend your arms and place your elbows parallel of the floor, when you are lifting keep your chest and your scapula adducted and push up with chest and triceps. The target is the sternal-costal portion of chest, front deltoids and triceps.
Press Up: Press up and Dips are the bodyweight exercises for chest. Lay on the floor in a prone position, hands next to the chest and in line with the middle part of chest, elbows at 45⁰ with the shoulders, keep in line neck, back and legs. The legs can be together or a bit apart. Put your hands on the floor and push up, use your chest and keep you abdominals contracted to keep your body in line. Don't push your bum up, or down, has to stay in line with your body. Press up targets are: chest, triceps, front deltoids and core.
Machine Chest press: in this exercise you use the machine and not the free weights; you do not need to use skills like coordination, balance or proprioception. This exercise is perfect for hypertrophy. The machine chest press must be performed like a bench press, with the scapulas adopted and elbow a t 45⁰ from shoulder. Seat and adjust the seat where you can have the handles in line with your lower chest, then grab the handles, adduce your scapula and push it on the saddle. Start pushing with your chest and push with your arms forward. The motion finishes when your arms are straight but never too close to your shoulders. Go back without dropping the weights and keep the tension in your muscles, and repeat.
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Cables flies: this exercise use cables to work with chest. Standing between the cables, bring them one a time and pull them near your body. Straight your arms in front of you, in line with your chest, pull out your chest, start by opening your arms like a cross. When your arms are completely open, close again while squeezing your chest. This exercise work with just one joint, the shoulder, and keep most of tension on your chest, working also triceps and front deltoids. When you close your arms do not push your shoulder forward.
Dumbbells flies: targets are the chest, triceps and front shoulder. Grad the dumbbells and seta on the bench, then lay down (face up) feet on the floor, pull your scapula and chest out. Take your dumbbells on top of your chest and push up keeping your arms straight and start to open them until in line with your shoulders, stretch your chest wide and go back. Close your arms in front of your chest (clavicular portion of the chest) you need the bench at 45⁰, if instead you want to work with lower chest you can decline your bench press.
Peck deck: seat on the machine with your back against the back side. Adjust the seat so that your middle chest is the same line with the handles. Grab the handles, chest out, scapula depressed and start to close yours arms forward, in line with the middle of chest and squeeze your chest. Go back and open them again, in line with your shoulder and stretch your chest.
Crossover: Similar at cables flies but with the cable starting from below, bring the cables, one a time, get between them. Standing up with your chest out and with one foot in front of the other one, hands near your hips, leaning forward. Held your chest out and rise your arms in line with your middle chest, squeeze your chest and lower them with control. Always keep the tension during the exercises.
We always advice to adduce the scapula and keep them flat because it will protect your shoulder. If you assume a wrong position or you do not do the exercise properly you could end up with pain in your shoulder (article about shoulder injuries).
Many people complained about a sore shoulder, and they are always touching the front side of it. This is because in most cases they assume the wrong technique while during a bench press with heavy weights, causing an impingement in their shoulder.
The pain that you may fell is from the front part of the shoulder and it fell like a bee sting. have is from the front part of shoulder and the pain is like a bee sting. How safe the shoulder? With the good position of scapulas, so: depression, adduction, cranial rotation.
This attitude, during all exercises descript before, will ensure more stability and control of your shoulder during all movement and this help you to prevent the onset of shoulder injuries.
If during the exercise you push forward your shoulder that is the factor to make a risk of injuries.
The best way to growth the armour chest is always to do some exercises that goal is to work with all part of chest (clavicular and sternal-costal portions). With some exercises multi-joints and some single-joint. We recommended doing 2-3 exercises multi joints exercises ad 2-3 single-joint. You can work your chest 2 times at weeks not more, especially if you doing alactacid workout or workout between 6-15 repetitions because the pectoralis is a big muscle and it need time to rest. But in case of strength cycle you can do 2 or 3 times because strength cycle works with neuronal system and not with glycogen-stored. To growth very well your chest you need do 3-4 sets at exercises for 6-12 repetitions with 1-2 minutes of rest.
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An example of weekly programme of chest in split routine per 1 time at week for beginner:
Barbell Bench press: 3 sets x 10 reps, 1 minute rest;
Incline dumbbells bench press: 2 sets x 12 reps, 1 minute rest;
Cables flies: 3 sets x 10 reps, 1 minute rest.
An example of weekly programme of chest in split routine per 2 Time at week for advance:
Pec Deck: 3 sets x15 reps, 45 sec rest;
Machine Chest Press: 3 sets x10 reps, 1 minute rest;
Incline dumbbells press: 4 sets x 12 reps, 1 minutes rest;
Cables flies: 2 sets x 12 reps, 45 sec rest.
Barbell bench press: 4 sets x 10 reps, 1 minute rest;
Decline dumbbells bench press: 3 sets x 12 reps, 1 minute rest;
Incline dumbbells flies: 4 sets x 10 reps, 1 minute rest;
Crossover: 3 sets x 10 reps, 1 minute rest.
Always remember that the factors influences the hypertrophy are three:
the mechanical tension: the mechanical tension is the load impact on the muscle. During the resisten training, the muscle subject at resistanc is could doing stretch (eccentiric) and contract (concentric), this mechanical tension is that factor that is produced by the force generated by the fibers and from their stretch. This help the muscle to growth and if the load gradually increase that causes a hypertrophic adaptation while the absence of loads it involves atrophy.
The muscle damage means the micro tissue tearing of the muscle fibers and they can refer to macromolecules contained within the myocyte sarcolemma and/or other fibrous components. The response to this injury is a consequent acute inflammation. (DOMS-Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
The metabolic stress is a major factor contributing to the development muscle hypertrophy, it involves the development of the anaerobic metabolism by products such as hydrogen ions, lactic acid and inorganic phosphate and is closely linked to hormone production. The accumulation of metabolic waste is able to trigger a fairly pronounced hypertrophic response, and this can be seen very well in some typical workouts by body builder where you prefer a high muscle tension at the expense of the intensity, resulting in depletion of intramuscular reserves of macromolecules.
Without all of three you can not have a big chest.
To train it 2 or more time a week, to check your technique, increase the weight when you lift, increase the volume if it is lower. In this way you can bulk a massive chest.
I hope you enjoy my article and please share it.
Subjects in the pictures are of me and Alix Edzi, the gym in the background is PureGym Plymouth.
Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance
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Andrea Roncari (2017), PROJECT EXERCISE biomeccanica applicata al fitness e al bodybuilding. IGB GROUP S.r.l., 201-203, 268-269.
Spadoni A. (2016), L'ipertrofia muscolare: cos e' e come allenarla. Link: http://www.bodybuilding-natural.com/allenamento/meccanismi-ipertrofia-muscolare/;