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If you want to build a chiseled chest then the only 3 chest exercises you need are shown in this video. The focus here is not necessarily on building the strongest or biggest chest but rather on chiseled pecs that are full from the bottom to the top. We are going to hit the upper pecs, lower pecs and middle pecs through three carefully selected chest exercises.
We start as always with a little bit of anatomy. We know that while it is impossible to isolate and contract only one head of the chest over the others, it is possible to influence the fiber activation given the different orientation of the muscle fibers in each of the three heads of the pec muscle. The upper chest fibers run towards the clavicle and respond best to motions that bring the arm from a low and away position to one up and in. The abdominal head fibers of the lower chest respond best to movements that bring the arm from a high and away position to one down and in. The sternal pec fibers are activated best through arms that bring the arm straight across the chest.
When selecting the only 3 chest exercises we start with the most basic of exercises, the bench press. However, instead of using the classic flat bench press version we choose the incline bench press. There is a good reason for this. Science shows that a slight 30 degree incline on the bench is best to not only hit the upper pec fibers the best while minimizing the dominance of the front delts but that it also hits the sternal portion of the chest hard as well.
The arms move from the low and away position to one up and in when performing the exercise this way. The use of dumbbells also allows the hands to travel a little closer to each other at the top to achieve more adduction of the arms rather than what happens when they are fixed in place on a barbell during a barbell bench press.
Even though you lose some of the tension on resisted adduction at the top of the rep, you still get more overall adduction resistance during the dumbbell variation of the bench press than you do with the barbell version.
Next we move to a lower chest exercise that hits the bottom part of the pecs hard. This time, it’s the high to low crossover that is our exercise of choice. This is best performed with a set of cables but it can also be done as a chest resistance band exercise. Here you want to make sure that you are bringing the arms down and across your chest on every rep. Many less informed trainers advise you to stop your arms at midline. Given that they don’t understand the anatomy and function of the chest muscles this is understandable, but still not right. In order to maximize chest contraction you want to cross your arms over each other in order to allow for a greater excursion into adduction and get better chest development.
Finally, we move onto the third and final exercise for chest to build a complete set of pecs. This one is the pullover. Now, I know what you might be thinking. The pullover is a back exercise that doesn’t work the chest. That’s not accurate. While the pullover is a great back and lat developer it can also hit the chest hard if you perform it the right way. It has to do with how you do the exercise as always.
Instead of flaring the elbows out to the sides and keeping the dumbbell close to the head (which would place the brunt of the workload on the lats) you want to straighten the arms as much as possible. The finish position of the dumbbell over the chest is the same as it would be at the end of an incline bench press. With the arms held relatively high (above the shoulders) you get the flexion of the shoulder that targets the upper pecs and minimizes the lats.
The other thing you want to do here is think about squeezing the backs of your hands together as the dumbbell approaches the end of each rep. This will further adduct your hands which will create a more intense upper chest contraction.
Finally, you can also use this exercise for chest to develop the serratus muscle. This often overlooked muscle acts as a support muscle for the lower chest and, when developed, gives that complete aesthetic look to the pecs that rounds out your complete chest development.
If you are looking for a complete workout program for building a big chest while developing ripped athletic muscle throughout your entire body, be sure to visit athleanx.com via the link below and use the program selector tool to find the plan that is best suited to your current goals.
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