The secret of the 130-cm chest
In the following article, Jerry Brainum tells you how to build a 130-centimeter (52-inch) chest. He will share with you what did those guys do, who own one.
A well-built chest is a trademark of all bodybuilding competitors. Take a look at Lee Haney’s chest: It outshines anyone else’s. If you meet him personally, you can see his pecs bulging like carved stones of concrete. Or, where would Arnold Schwarzenegger be now, without his massive pecs, which helped him win 7 Mr. Olympia titles? Contents
These men were not born like that. They all trained persistently, heated by perpetual motivation. Excellent genetics also played an important role in their case. You might not be able to build pecs like Arnold or Lee, but anyone is capable of progress in this area. To achieve that, you need to work hard and apply the right training techniques.
By “chest” we usually mean the pectorals and the ribcage. You have limited opportunity to develop your ribcage: The younger you start training, the bigger it can grow. Your bones stop growing after the age of 21; from then on, you cannot change them. However, you can still make your chest look bigger after your bones stopped growing, by building the saw muscles (serratus anterior). These are small, finger-thick muscles running on both sides of the chest. Since the role of these muscles is to raise the chest, they can be stimulated by various pull-over exercises. So, the saw muscles will make your chest look bigger by raising it.
The most outstanding example for the advantages of developing saw muscles may be the former three-time Mr. Olympia winner, Frank Zane. One of the most famous “trademark” poses of Frank was the one with the stomach vacuum, with his arms bent behind his head. This pose showed off Frank’s bulging saw muscles perfectly. This made him look much more muscular than he really was (which doesn’t mean he wasn’t muscular anyway).
In the past, I often had the chance to see him train at Gold's Gym in Venice, so I can tell you that Zane was a firm believer of dumbbell pull-over. He never skipped this exercise during his chest workouts. He would do it lying crosswise on a higher flat bench; he slightly bent his elbows to spare his joints, and let the dumbbell down in a slow and controlled manner behind his head. If you want saw muscles that can measure up to his, try this technique, with 4 sets of 15 reps. If you are a beginner, 2 sets will suffice. The pull-over exercise should rather be done with smaller weight, but higher reps (10 or above).
Although the pectorals play an important role in several moves, as well as in stabilizing the shoulders, their primary function is to cross the arms in front of the torso, like embracing. There are 2 types of exercise that provide significant stimulation to the pecs: presses and flyes.
Presses comprise several types of exercises. You can do them on a flat, an incline or a decline bench; or you might do some of each type within one workout. These three variants target different parts of the pecs. If you do them on a flat bench, you can stimulate the central, thick part; incline presses will stimulate the upper part, while decline presses the lower part.
Presses are compound exercises. This means, they also work other muscles beside pectorals, e.g. the shoulders or triceps. Since these exercises move a larger mass of muscle, the amount of growth that can be achieved with them is more large-scale, too, compared to isolation exercises like flyes. So far, most bodybuilders experienced the best results by combining presses and flyes.
The highly-praised traditional bench press (on a flat bench) has become somewhat less popular in the past few years. Many bodybuilders believe this exercise is overrated, because it puts too much load on the triceps and the shoulders, and it is dangerous as well. And it can really be, if you are using too heavy weights or doing it carelessly. But even if you do bench presses in a correct form and following a warm-up, you might still get a serious tear in your pecs, especially if you use steroids.
The latest research has revealed that steroids weaken the tendons between muscles. This means, they increase the danger of suffering serious injuries like muscle tears.
Some believe that steroids contribute to injuries by making the muscles disproportionately stronger than the tendons. Although pectoral tears are rare, their occurrence increases in parallel with steroid use. That is, heavy bench presses and steroid use carry a risk of pectoral tears. And I have seen it enough times to believe it.
Is the bench press exercise also overrated apart from the risk of injury? I wouldn’t say that. Because it is so simple, it is a suitable exercise both for beginners and experienced bodybuilders, both for men and women. But you should always make sure you are doing it correctly. This also involves a warm-up of 15-20 reps, with gradually increasing weights. Researchers recommend different grip widths; however, medium or shoulder-wide grip is the best for building pecs. Too narrow grip puts more load on the triceps, while too wide grip puts too much strain on the wrist and shoulder joints. The best solution is to experiment yourself, which grip width feels the most natural for you. Since everyone has a different body structure, with different origin and insertion points for the muscles, optimal grip width may vary from one person to another.
Some people feel that bench press does not work well enough for them; they often substitute it with incline press. You may do this exercise by barbell or dumbbells, just like the flat-bench version. However, many prefer the dumbbell version, because it enables you to stretch your muscles better. The more the muscle stretches, the more intense contraction it will induce afterwards (prestretch).
Bodybuilders often arch their backs, especially while doing incline bench presses, as this enables them to use heavier weights. As a consequence, incline bench press will transform into a flat-bench press, in fact, performed with wrong technique. It’s more useful to rather use smaller weight, but the right technique. Vince Gironda’s advice: when you are doing the barbell version, let the weight down to your neck; and, when doing the dumbbell version, the dumbbells should be facing towards one another. Otherwise, 75 % of the work will be done by the delts.
Another important aspect is the inclination angle of the bench. The larger the angle is, the larger proportion of the load will be taken over by the delts. The best inclination is between 30 and 45 degrees. This applies to incline flyes as well.
Decline bench presses have become less popular nowadays, even though these are useful exercises, too. The part where you are letting the weight down will decide which part of your pecs you are stimulating. For example, if you let the weight down to your neck, the load will be exerted on the upper part of your pecs; and, by letting it down to the lower part of your pecs, you can attack the lower part. The exact angle cannot and does not need to be defined; you may decline the bench until you can feel your blood rushing in your head. Similarly to the rest of the presses, you may replace the barbell with dumbbells.
At this point you might feel like getting off the ground. Alright then, open your wings and fly(e)!
Similarly to presses, you may perform flyes on a flat, incline or decline bench. While presses are considered compound exercises, flyes are mostly considered isolation exercises. The problem with this labeling is that you cannot separate your pecs perfectly while doing flyes. True, this move is the best for using your pecs for their primary function, which is (remember), crossing your arms in front of your chest. For this reason, flyes play a bigger role in shaping your muscles than presses do.
On an incline bench, it is best to move the dumbbells in line with your head. Arnold used to do this exercise so that the dumbbells had to touch in the top position. This way he could achieve continuous tension in his pecs. Do not let the weights down too low: Stop when your muscles have stretched out. If you let the weights down too low, your shoulders and pecs may overstretch. Make sure you are not bending your arms too much. Otherwise, this exercise will transform into a bench press. All kinds of flying movement should be performed along the arc of a circle. Use your arms as mere connecting elements; let your pecs do the job.
The lower part of the pectorals is rarely a problem area for bodybuilders. If you still want to concentrate on this area, the decline flye is an excellent choice. Be careful, though: if you do too many exercises on decline bench, your pecs might look like they are “hanging”. This exercise will bring the best results with high rep counts.
Most bodybuilders do the cable crossover as a closing exercise at the end of pec workouts. Heavy weight is not a requirement, as this is a muscle shaping exercise. Depending on which part of your pecs you wish to bomb, you may cross your arms in different positions: in front of your face, in front of your chest etc. You may modify the end result by varying your body positioning. The more you are leaning forward, the more of the load will be taken over by your shoulders. While, if you are standing upright, the pecs will do most of the job. Here too, high rep counts prove to be the most effective. I have seen champions performing this exercise with over 20 reps.
Similarly to cable crossover, pec-deck machines primarily attack the inner part of the pectorals. In order to minimize the risk of injury, make sure your arms are positioned to your torso in an angle of 90 degrees. Also important: you should exert force in both stages of the move: when contracting your muscles (of course), but you should also hold on while letting the weights back. Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner, and (similarly to flyes), avoid overstretching your muscles. Now you do not need to use heavy weights either. The advantage of this exercise is the horizontal position: this ensures that the whole of the pectoral area is under load, both the upper and the lower regions.
Although the dip is not a flying movement, it provides similar stimulus as decline flyes. Lean forward so the load is exerted on your pecs; this exercise will rather work the triceps, if performed in an upright position. If you have ever had a shoulder injury, forget this exercise. Otherwise you will learn what sharp pain is really like.
Ask your question about this article here!
You can ask questions after registration and login!
Please log in!