Ask The Trainer #103 – Building A Big Upper and Inner Chest

Ask The Trainer #103 - Building A Big Upper and Inner Chest

QUESTION:

Hi. I am having trouble getting the upper part of my chest to grow, as well as the inside part of my chest. Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

Christian


ANSWER:

Hi, Christian. People who are trying to build up their pectorals generally gravitate towards the most notorious exercises for building the chest, which is bench press, along with several machine variations of this exercise.  I think bench pressing is generally a great compound exercise for upper body strength, but not the best exercise for overall chest development.

Often times you will come across guys at the gym who can bench press a ton of weight, yet their pectoral development leaves little to be desired. That’s because bench pressing is not the best exercise for overall pectoral muscle stimulation. The Guillotine Press (also called the Neck Press) is a far superior movement, in my opinion. When people bench press they tend to bounce the bar, arch their backs, and contort their bodies in a way that redirects stress away from the pectorals, and disperses it to a plethora of other random parts of the body.

Guillotine Press

EMG tests have shown that the Guillotine Press triggers more muscle fibers in the pectorals than any other chest exercise. This movement is similar to a bench press, but instead of lowering the bar to the center of your chest, you’ll instead lower it to the base of your neck, just above your clavicles. You’ll want to perform this movement in a slow and controlled manner. As you lower the bar to your neck, you should flare your elbows outwards. I personally prefer performing this movement on a Smith machine because I don’t have to worry about the bar wavering, and I can strictly focus on activating my chest muscles to control the resistance.

Another reason I like doing this exercise on a Smith machine is that most of these machines are equipped with safety guards that will allow you set them just where the bar is about to come in contact with the neck. That way you never have to worry about your muscles failing and the bar comes crashing down on your neck!

If you don’t have access to a Smith machine and you want to try doing the Guillotine Press with free weights, be sure that you use safety stands, or have an extremely reliable spotter watching over you so that you don’t need to worry about the bar collapsing on your neck! Also, plan on using at least 1/3 less weight on this exercise than you would a standard bench press because it’s much more difficult! Within just a few months of incorporating this exercise into my chest routine, I noticed a significant increase in the development of my upper and middle Pectorals!


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Cable Flys

Low to high cable flys are a great exercise to engage the muscle fibers of the clavicular pectoralis, which represents the mass of the upper chest. In my opinion, it’s one of the best overall exercises for filling the upper pectorals. It also activates the pectoralis major to help build the center of the chest. This exercise allows constant resistance in the horizontal plane of adduction to trigger the muscle fibers of the middle and upper chest, something that cannot effectively be achieved by performing a bench press.

To do low to high cable flys, begin by standing between 2 pulleys set at their lowest adjustable position. Grab hold of the handles of the pulleys and take a step forward so that you’re in from of the pulleys and your arms are drawn slightly back. Have your palms facing forward. Your upper arms should be at about a 30-degree angle away from your sides. Using the muscles of your chest, draw your arms up and inward until your knuckles come together at shoulder height, or just a little bit higher. The motion that you’re making with your arms will resemble an upside down V shape.

Hypertrophy

Your goal here is hypertrophy, so execute both the neck press and the low to high cable flys at a relatively slow and controlled cadence. I have found that taking about 3 seconds to perform the concentric portion the movement, and 3-4 seconds to perform the eccentric portion of these exercises really torches my chest and expedites the development of those muscles!

Use a weight that will force your set to end between 8-12 reps. Remember, neither of these exercises are power movements. You won’t see anyone performing these movements with any freaky weights. Just be sure to toss your ego in the closet before doing them, because if you do them correctly using good form, your pecs will get absolutely wrecked using relatively light weights!

Substitute these exercises for 2 of the exercises from your usual chest routine, and I can all but guarantee a thicker, fuller chest within a few months!

I wish you all the best of success in your bodybuilding and fitness aspirations!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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