Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chest By Request

After my last video went up, a few of my subscribers requested a chest video for my next upload.  Here it is, along with a few pointers!

We all know that keeping the chest up and shoulders back is ideal for maximal chest isolation.  But something my training partner and I have been trying lately, in addition to that, is contracted abdominals.  Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?  How can you keep your chest up AND your abs tight?  Well it does take some concentration, but the end result is definitely worth it.  By keeping the abs tight, you stabilize the torso and anchor the pectorals, which actually allows for an improved stretch in the target muscle.  Think about it, when the chest is lifted and the abs are loose, the pectoral does not change length all that much.  When the pecs are anchored by the abs however, a significantly greater change in length can be achieved.  Additionally, keeping the abs tight creates stability that radiates throughout the entire upper body, leading to improved shoulder and elbow position as well.  Give it a try!

Keeping the elbows positioned in such a way as to eliminate triceps, deltoid, and even lat involvement is just as important.  As you can see in the final segment in my video (my personal favorite because the lighting was so good), my elbows are pointing towards the ground, when they should, in fact, be pointing behind me.  By having the elbows hang down like that, I was forced to bring my shoulders out and around each time in order to isolate the chest, probably causing some micro-twisting in the biceps and pectoral tendons--oops!  Remember: During pressing movements, your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor at the bottom of the movement, if they aren't, your grip is too wide or too narrow!  I can't tell you how often I see people "split the difference" between close-grip bench press (a triceps exercise) and regular bench (a chest exercise)--there's absolutely no benefit to this, just do one or the other.

And since we're on the subject, here's a few tidbits for those of you who bench press (I do not, so don't ask how much I can bench--it's a meaningless number anyway :P): Bench press on a flat bench does not involve a straight up-and-down plane of movement, but rather a natural arc.  The bar needs to come down near the nipple line and move up and back towards your chin.  Also, bouncing the bar off your chest?  Bad idea--not only are you completely missing out on the most demanding part of the movement, you're risking injury and probably training much heavier than your capacity.  And another thing!  Keeping your hips on the bench, rather than thrusting or raising them in order to use your lower back, will both reduce the risk for injury and increase the efficacy of your training.  There's no shame in training lighter and with better form.  You may see trained power-lifters doing that, but well, they are trained power-lifters and they lift differently than the rest of us with a different end goal in mind.

Gotta love that thumbnail!

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