The chest is one of the most frequently practiced muscle groups, but unfortunately it is also one of the most resistant to training stimuli. The most popular exercise performed in gyms all over the world is squeezing a barbell on a bench. This is a heavy, complex exercise that develops the muscles of the upper body. The weight we are able to squeeze out has become an indicator of our strength. But is this the best exercise that brings us closer to the desired goal, which is a well-developed, muscular chest? If you want to learn the most effective and learning based training methods, please read this article.
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Chest – a little bit about anatomy
If you want to explain in depth how the chest muscles function, it is worthwhile to introduce them to their anatomy at the beginning.
The chest muscles form three separate groups:
Group I – surface muscles that attach to the bone around the shoulder and shoulder.
Group II – deep muscles, which are the proper layer of chest muscles.
Group III – a diaphragm that forms a partition separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.
Deep muscles and the diaphragm are responsible for many very important functions of the body, such as respiratory movements, strengthening of the chest wall and protection of internal organs. Deep muscles are:
- the intercostal muscles;
- subcostal muscles;
- transverse muscle;
- the toothed posterior muscle.
They belong to the group of surface muscles:
- the greater chest muscle (m.pectorialis major);
- a smaller thoracic muscle (m.pectorialis minor);
- subclavian muscle (m.subclavius);
- anterior toothed muscle (m.serratus anterior);
Breast muscle larger (pectorialis major) – is the largest and most visible muscle of the surface group. It is the strongest muscle that leaves and restores the arm. It is divided into two parts: clavicle and bridge and rib.
Smaller chest muscle (pectorialis minor) – located on the surface of the front chest and covered with larger chest muscle.
Subclavian muscle – stretched between the first rib and clavicle, transversely to the body axis.
Front toothed muscle – located on the side of the chest. It is one of the largest muscles of the human body, but because of its “hidden” position, it does not seem to do so.
All the above muscles have a very important supporting function in the process of breathing.
It should be noted that during any chest exercise, all parts of the muscles will be activated, but if you change the angle of your movements accordingly, you may be able to isolate yourself slightly more.
Because the fibres of the upper chest muscles (collarbone) run upwards, they are maximally activated during exercises in which the arm moves up and across the body. An example of an exercise that insulates the upper part of the chest muscle is squeezing the barbells upwards on a slanting bench. The fibers of the middle part run horizontally towards the bridge, so we can achieve their greatest activation by performing horizontal exercises, e.g. squeezing a barbell on a flat bench. The lower chest fibers running downwards can be isolated using exercises such as pumping on rails or squeezing down on a slanting bench.
Chest training – the most common mistakes
Here are some of the most common mistakes during chest training:
- too high a load;
- initiating movement with stabilizing muscles, i.e.: anterior acton of the shoulder muscles;
- no peak muscle tension;
- too much involvement of the quadrilateral muscles of the spine;
- to tear your shoulders off the ground.
During each exercise it is very important to maintain a proper posture by pulling the blades and pushing the chest forward. The extrusion movement should be initiated by the contraction of the chest muscles.
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Chest training – exercises
The most popular exercises for chest muscles are:
Squeeze out the barbells on the slanting bench upwards.
In this exercise, we focus on engaging the upper part of the larger chest muscle by setting the appropriate angle of inclination of the bench backrest from 30 to 45 degrees. The use of barbells allows to enlarge the range of movement, which contributes to greater muscle hypertrophy.
Pressing the barbell on a flat bench.
This exercise puts the greatest emphasis on the development of the middle part of the chest muscle and affects its thickness. This is the most popular exercise performed for years all over the world. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence of its effectiveness in building a muscular cage. Beginners very often make mistakes in performing this exercise, too much involving the triceps of the arms and shoulder muscles.
Push-ups on the railings.
According to many, the most effective exercise for the lower chest is the most effective. It is quite difficult technically, often performed incorrectly through too deep descent, which causes high stress in shoulder joints and holding the wrong position. Properly performed, it contributes to a very rapid development of the lower part of the chest muscle. It is also a very good exercise to increase your strength by being able to add a load.
Crucifixion of top lift cables.
This exercise puts the emphasis on the sternum-ribbed part, so both the lower and middle part of the chest muscle is involved. An additional advantage of this exercise is the ability to cross hands in the lower phase of movement, increasing peak muscle tension.
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Chest training – an example of training
To sum up, the ideal chest training should consist of upper, middle and lower chest muscle exercises. If we look at the basic exercises that people do in their trainings, we will see: barbell squeezing on a bench, push-ups on railings, classical push-ups. Each of these classic exercises has one thing in common – the lack of full movement of the arm’s adduction, which is the basic activity of the chest muscle.
Below I present an example of a training plan for full chest development, performed in the style of a drop set, so after each series we take off the load and combine the first exercise in a set with the second.
A1. Barbell pressing on a flat bench – 4 series of 6, 8, 10, 12 repetitions each
A2. Horizontal crossbreeding of ski lift cables – 4 series of 15 repetitions
B1. Pressing the barbell on the inclined bench upwards – 4 series of 6, 8, 10, 12 repetitions each
B2. Crucifixion of cables from the bottom upwards – 4 series of 15 repetitions.
C1. Handrail pumps – 4 series of 6, 8, 10, 12 repetitions each
C2. Crossing of cables from the top to the bottom of the ski lift – 4 series of 15 repetitions.
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