The optimal chest training

The optimal chest training

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The next muscle group in this series is the chest muscle. This muscle is not that large in terms of muscle volume, but a well-shaped chest muscle is very important for a complete physical. Ladies, for you too! In this article we will discuss what the functions of the chest muscle are and what an optimal breast training looks like!

Anatomy of the breast

The chest muscle consists of two parts, an upper part and a lower part. These are not the pectoralis major and minor as many people think, but 2 different parts of the same muscle, namely the pectoralis major (in the same way that the biceps, for example, has two heads).

From the fact that there are 2 different heads of this muscle, we could conclude that both heads have different functions; and that is also the case.

The upper part, which has its origo on the collarbone, has its fibers (viewed from the insertion) slope upwards. The lower head of the chest muscle has its origo on the sternum, and when viewed from the insertion the fibers run more horizontally. The lower fibers of the pectoral muscle also partially adhere to the ribs, and thus, viewed from the origo, slope upwards towards the joint insertion of all pectoral muscle fibers on the upper arm.

The chest muscles themselves do not adhere to the shoulder blade, but their position is very important when training the muscles in the upper body and especially when training the chest muscle. Learn more about this optimally under the heading.

Jan Willem breast training

Functions of the chest

As you may already know, a muscle can only actively shorten. When this happens, this muscle brings the origo and the insert closer together. From the fiber direction of the muscles it is therefore very easy to determine what the function of this muscle will be. The function of the chest muscle is thus horizontal shoulder adduction; Moving the arm inwards in a horizontal movement relative to the body, as happens with a fly movement.

Since the upper fibers run obliquely downwards from the origo (so obliquely upwards from the insertion on the upper arm) these fibers can also contribute to shoulder flexion; Bringing it upwards / upwards like with a frontal draw.

When training the chest muscles, many people think of the movement their hands make in relation to the body; However, as a trainer I notice more and more that this can be confusing; a good tip: think from your elbows! Not from your hands. Since the pectoral muscle adheres to the upper arm, everything below the elbow joint is not of interest to the pectoral muscle.

During a benchpress it is therefore elbows to the outside, elbows to the inside. With a fly just like that; not so much up and down.

The optimal chest training

Many bodybuilders do not necessarily choose the benchpress as the main exercise in their schedule; I don't do that either, but it's because of an injury.

The benchpress

It is indeed the case that many other muscle groups work with the benchpress (as with all compound exercises) and that is why the benchpress is not the best exercise to isolate the pectoral muscle.

Studies show, however, that the size of the chest muscle is strongly related to 1RM on the benchpress, from which some conclude that heavy benchen is perfect for hypertrophy of the chest muscle. Now I am always very careful with cause-and-effect conclusions, since there were some reservations about it, but there is at least a correlation.

The bench press is also an exercise that is very easy to overload, so when you can do this exercise pain-free, it is definitely recommended.

Top chest

Since the upper part of the chest muscle provides shoulder flexion, as we have seen, it is advisable to train these fibers specifically; That is why incline breast exercises certainly also deserve their place in an optimal stimulus for the chest muscle.

You will have to play along with the degree of 'incline' to find out which one is best for you; according to some literature, around 45 degrees is optimal, but bear in mind that each degree that you go up further shifts the focus further to the upper fibers of the chest muscle, but also the shoulders.

In addition, the chest muscles are in a slightly more favorable position (slightly shortened) when you rotate internally; (this means as much as palms towards your feet.)

Jan Willem chest

Sensitive shoulders? Read more!

However, people with sensitive shoulders will also know that internal rotation can often be a sensitive / painful position for your shoulders; So be careful when trying out different exercises and positions. You can say it out loud by now, but no one exercise is irreplaceable. If something hurts in the wrong way, don't do it.

In general you can (especially with sensitive shoulders) the best retraction and depression persist; shoulder blades back and down. (see the back article for more explanation about this). Well-developed back muscles, and especially the lower parts of the trapezius, are extremely important for the proper training of the chest muscle.

However, it may help to come into light protraction when you move concentrically, in order to optimally shorten the chest muscle and therefore to train optimally; In other words, when your elbows move towards each other, let your shoulder blades move slightly apart and forward.

A trick that I've been using lately, as some people have noticed on my instagram, is to place a foam roller between the back of the chair and your shoulder blades. This way you can move a lot more freely.

Focus on technology, not on weight

Just like with every muscle, not only mechanical stress is important; it is therefore not just about the kilos that are moved. Metabolic stress also has its place in hypertrophy, and in addition, pounds say nothing at all about the total burden on the muscle itself. The only thing your body registers is the force with which the tendon pulls on the bone; A cable fly with a good shape at 20 kilos can therefore certainly lead to more results and even more mechanical stress than a cable fly with 50 kilos with which your crap kites.

Since metabolic stress is tiring and this fatigue can get in the way of your heavy lifts, it is advisable, just like with any other muscle group (CONTINUOUS), to first take your heavy exercises and conclude them with the insulation work.

Finally, you will always be able to generate more output with exercises where you can brace yourself well than with exercises where you have to brace yourself. In other words: a seated cable fly can generate a much larger potential training incentive than a standing cable fly. A because you cannot smuggle and B because you can focus all your strength on moving the weight instead of partly also on giving posture and counter-pressure.

The average person optimally trains the chest muscle 2 to 3 times a week, with a total of 16-20 work sets per week.

Jan Willem Chest

Example schedule for breast training

Training 1

A Bench press, 3 sets, 6-8 reps

B Incline dumbbell press, 3 sets, 6-8 reps

C1 seated cable fly (internal rotation), 3 sets, 10-12 reps

C2 seated ncline cable fly, 3 sets of 10-12 reps

* The exercises C1 and C2 are performed as a super set.

Training 2

A Decline Barbell press, 3 sets, 6-8 reps

B Incline seated cable press, 3 sets, 8-10 reps

C Seated cable fly, 2 sets, 20 reps, every 4 reps a different height, work from incline to decline)

Jan Willem van der Klis

Instagram: @Jay_Whey

This blog is written by

Jan Willem van der Klis

"My focus is on obtaining and disseminating the best possible knowledge to optimize training and nutrition"

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