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How to train chest ?

How to train the chest ?

In this post, I will discuss in detail the pectoral muscle group. In my experience, it is among the muscle groups most targeted by fitness enthousiats (due to the aesthetic aspect it has). To be able to grow it correctly and in its entirety, it is necessary to master the good strategies and techniques that I will approach in this post. At the same time, I will present the key exercises that allow you to recruit it properly. Finally, if the chest is a weak point for you, I will go over some techniques allowing you to fix it.

Muscle anatomy

The pectoralis major is a muscular group which is inserted on the sternum (A: middle of the thoracic cage), the clavicles at the top (B), the costal cartilages (C) and the muscles of the rectus abdominis at the bottom (D). To simplify its understanding, we can decompose it into three heads, each containing itself several muscle fibers. The image below represents the pectoralis major as explained previously:

Chest anatomy

The yellow region (1) is called the clavicular head and therefore constitutes the upper part of the chest. It is also the most difficult area to grow of the whole. It requires putting a lot of tension, a precise working angle, even intensification techniques to manage to develop properly. We will see below the appropriate exercises for the recruitment of this part.

The orange region (2) is the sternal head of the pectoralis major and also the largest part of it. Generally, it is the group head that grows the most easily. With a few basic exercises performed properly and regularity, you will get to see the first results quickly.

The red region (3) constitutes the costal head of the pectoralis major. Although it is not as difficult to develop as the clavicular part, it still requires exercises and a particular angle of attack to be respected, in order to better solicit it and make it evolve.

Polyarticular exercises

As mentioned in my previous article on the basics of training, there are two main families for working out a muscle group : polyarticular exercises and isolation exercises. This is also the case for the chest. For this muscle group, the most famous basic exercises are : push-ups (body weight), bench presses (incline, flat or decline) with free weights (barbell or dumbbells), dips, presses with guided machines.

For the clavicular region of the chest, it is important to give priority to all bench press exercises at an inclined angle (30 ° to 45 °). I also recommend that you always start your pectoral sessions with this part, as it requires the most effort to grow properly.

Incline bench press

For the middle beam, all the lying positions can be used during the exercise. As examples, you can perform exercises such as the bench press, or even guided machines without angle of inclination (see image below). This pectoral area being located in the middle, it generally intervenes in most of the exercises that target the pectoral muscles, which is why it should not cause you any problems.

Flat bench press

For the lower section, a bench press in declined position allows to put more tension on this part of the chest. Dips are also a good alternative that focuses on this chest part. A basic exercise targeting this region is generally enough per session to allow the development of the lower one, as long as you put enough intensity.

Decline chest press

Isolation exercises

The purpose of isolation exercises is to isolate the work of one muscle from the others. This type of exercise complements the basic exercises. In order to isolate the chest, it is possible to do all the exercises apart (with cable or dumbbells), but also with guided machines. For the clavicular bundle, it is interesting to use a spreader on an inclined bench or a deviation from the cables opposite inverted (trajectory of the movement from the bottom to the top).

Upper chest flyes

For the middle region, prefer the recumbent spreads and the spreads with the pulley opposite by tilting the bust at around 45 °. A gap to the guided machines also allows to vary the work and the tension on this region.

Chest flyes

Finally, for the last bundle, it is possible to work using the cables flies opposite, keeping the bust straight and pulling the cables down from the pectoral muscles.

I remind you that the goal is not to do all the exercises presented in the same chest session (which makes no sense !). You must rather choose among them those which give you the best feelings and which allow you to progress, for each targeted muscle part. Of course, it is quite possible to modify your program over the long term by removing / adding exercises and not always doing the same workout.

Chest as a weak point, how to fix the imbalance ?

Catching up on a weak body part is not always easy, including the chest. Nevertheless, identifying the source of the problem causing stagnation compared to the adjacent muscles and applying the correct techniques, will allow you to get it back on track. The first element to define: is your chest not growing as a whole or is only one region concerned by this problem?

If it is a global problem, it means that your chest do not intervene enough during the basic exercises (competition with other muscles, the triceps and the shoulders in particular which make most of the work instead of chest ! ). In this case, we must rely on isolation exercises and intensification techniques: pre-fatigue, post-fatigue, very long and light series, to precisely teach them to work in poly-articular exercises and improve blood flow to their levels. It is only after this learning that it is possible to return to a classic format by gradually increasing the weights. Adding a second session for the chest is another way of increasing the volume of work and “accelerating” their rebalance process, provided that you have recovered well from the first session.

If it is rather a local development problem, it will be important to focus the work more on the region concerned and slightly sacrifice the work of the other sections during your pectoral session. As you will be more focused and fresh at the start of the session, the first reflex is to always start your session with the part which is lagging. Adding exercises aimed at this region in addition, or combining them in intensification techniques, will allow you to increase the volume of work and accentuate the stress on it. Slightly reducing rest times can also be a good complementary technique to intensify training. Finally, if all these strategies are insufficient, it may be worthwhile to change the program or incorporate exercises that are unusual for the concerned part.


1 thought on “How to train chest ?

  1. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do believe that you need to write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t discuss such topics.
    To the next! Kind regards!!

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