Are you wondering how to train the chest? In this article, I will be going over different considerations for chest training so you can choose the best exercises and program them in the best way!
When looking to train something in the most effective way, it is a good idea to look at its anatomy. This will help determine what exercises and how much of them to do!
The chest has 3 distinct portions. These are the upper, mid and lower chest. These distinct portions are made by the way the muscle fibres run.
The entire chest inserts on the humorous, but the difference between the different heads of the chest lies in where they originate from. The upper chest (clavicular head) attaches to the clavicle while the sternal head of the chest attaches… well on the sternum. The mid-chest attaches at the mid-point of the sternum while the lower chest attaches on the lower part and beneath the sternum.
It is these differences in origin points that create the different angles of the chest muscle fibres, which is where the 3 sections come from. The clavicular head has one distinct section, while the sternal head has 2 distinct sections.
This understanding of the different sections of the chest allow us to perform specific exercises that will work the chest as a whole, but focus on certain parts of the chest.
Again, all chest pressing exercises will work the entire chest, but there are different exercises that move the weight in the same direction of the muscle fibres of different sections of the chest, thus allowing us to emphasize one area more than others with our exercise selection.
Incline presses will emphasize the upper chest.
Flat presses emphasize the biggest part of the chest, the mid part.
Decline presses or exercises like dips emphasize the lower portion of the chest.
We know between 10 and 20 sets per muscle group, per week is generally where you want to be for hypertrophy. Starting on the lower end of this and progressing through this set range is a good idea as part of your progressive overload.
With that being said, we are not applying this weekly volume to each specific part of the chest. So we would not be doing 10 sets for upper, 10 for mid and 10 for lower. That would be way too much volume.
Again, pressing exercises work the whole chest and emphasize certain parts relative to what type of press you do.
So maybe you start with 12 sets per week and do 6 sets for mid-chest, 3 for upper and 3 for lower.
Or, if you have a weak point, such as the upper chest, you could do 6 sets of incline, 3 for mid and 3 for lower. This way you are putting more emphasis on that weak point.
What Exercises And When:
When figuring out what order to do exercises in, we want to start with the heavy compounds first, then transition into the lighter isolation movements.
This allows us to use our energy in the most effective way relative to the different benefits that each type of lift provide.
We would have the most energy available for those heavy exercises at the start so we can train them how they are best trained, heavy. Later in the workout when we have less energy, we can still train those lighter isolation exercises pretty optimally since they don’t require the same energy and muscle fibre recruitment off the bat.
An example of a logical progression would be as follows:
Bench Press >>> Incline Dumbbell Press >>> Decline Machine Press
We can train the bench press heavy at the start, then transition into a moderately heavy incline dumbbell press, where we will then go into the machine press that is trained lighter and doesn’t demand the same stabilization muscles that the previous exercises do.
Now let’s do an example tailored to someone who has the upper chest as a weak point:
Incline Bench Press >>> Flat Dumbbell Press >>> Decline Machine Press
One thing to note is that I would tend to put more emphasis on the mid and upper chest, since the lower chest is relatively small, and as I mentioned would still get worked to some degree with the other chest exercise variations.
However, if the lower chest is a weak point of yours, then, by all means, some isolation work makes a ton of sense.
That’s the article! Now you know what chest training for hypertrophy is all about after learning about the anatomy and the scientific and experience-based training knowledge!
Got questions or just want to let me know what you thought about the article? Drop a comment below and I will respond!
Here are some other articles that may be beneficial for your knowledge!
Until Next Time,
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