October 17, 2011 Leave a comment
The Single Best Chest Workout…
If I were to name the single best chest workout for mass, it would be the chest-dip. It is said that Vince Gironda, one of the most successful bodybuilding coaches of all time, replaced all of the bench presses in his gym with dipping stations.
Despite this however, the bench press has still managed to find its way into being the most popular chest workout in the gym. How often do you get asked how much you bench, as opposed to ‘how much do you dip?’
The trouble with the bench press is it places too much focus on the anterior deltoids – the muscle on the front section of your shoulders. Since the anterior deltoids are a much smaller and weaker muscle than the massive pectoralis major of your chest, the exercise is commonly limited by how much the anterior deltoids can handle.
With dips on the other hand, the positioning of your body results in most of the force being produced by your chest. This makes for a far more intense chest workout, leading to bigger and better gains in less time. The shoulder is still involved with dips, but only as a stabilizer.
The Best Chest Workout Routine…
Dips may be the single best chest workout, but a good chest workout routine includes a variety of different exercises.
The most successful bodybuilders have almost always claimed that the best way to fully develop a particular muscle is to attack it from a variety of different angles using a selection of different exercises.
In the last few decades however, a few erroneous studies have lead scientists and many trainers to falsely claim that working the same muscle from different angles with different exercises was futile. They claimed that a given muscle can either contract or not contract, and that the shape of a muscle can only be determined by your genes. As a result of these claims, a lot of people have, to their detriment, started to do only one chest exercise – usually the flat bench press.
The latest research however, shows that the pro bodybuilders were right all along.
Newer studies have shown that there are short muscle fibers that don’t run through the entire length of the muscle. This means that you can do separate exercises to target the outer portion of your chest and the inner portion of your chest, and also exercises to target the upper vs lower portions of your chest.
To add to the body of evidence that you can target different portions of your chest separately, studies have also demonstrated the presence of muscle fibers that vary in diameter throughout the length of the muscle. This means that a given muscle fiber will thicken more in the area that you are focusing on with a particular exercise.
With the above in mind, it appears that the best chest workout routine would involve a combination of different exercises. Below are some exercises I suggest you combine for maximum results.
1. Chest Dips
Being, in my opinion, one of the best single chest exercises for men, there’s no surprise that I have included chest dips as part of a good chest workout routine.
Although chest dips do a good job at working out the entire chest, most of the focus is placed on the lower portion of the pecs and also the outer portion. This will grow your chest muscle downward and outward, giving you good separation from the abdomen, and good upper-body width.
2. Incline Bench Press
Although the bench press is not as good as the chest dip, the incline variation does have the benefit of putting more emphasis on the upper portion of the pecs. By combing incline bench presses with chest dips, you will give your chest more of a square stone-slab-like appearance.
3. Cable Crossover
The cable crossover, if you have access to one, is a good adjunct to the above two exercises. This is because it allows you to cross your arms over one another, giving an intense workout to the inner portion of your chest. This will help you to get that good midline separation line between your left and right pecs.
To increase the focus on the inner pecs, do partial reps rather than use a full range of motion. Start with your arms just a little further than shoulder-width apart in front of you. To perform a rep, move your arms toward one another, letting them cross over as far as possible. Then slowly take your arms back to the starting position.
If you don’t have access to a cable crossover machine, I suggest you do narrow-grip bench presses or narrow-grip pushups. You will notice that with a narrow grip your arms will come much closer together when the weight is pushed up away from your body, than when you use a wider grip.
The above exercises are just examples, though they are some of the best chest workouts around. A good chest workout routine involves a variety of different exercises that target different portions of the chest. With the above examples you will effectively target the lower, upper, outer and inner portions of the chest. This will help to give you huge gains in every direction – inwards, outwards, downwards and upwards, giving you that unstoppable hulk-like and herculean appearance in your chest.
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