News flash: There is a lot more to building your best chest than simply packing weight on the bar for a big one-rep max. We have it on good authority that there are numerous variations and tweaks that can (and should) be used to bring up the overall shape and aesthetic appeal of the pecs in relatively quick fashion. If you really want to build your best chest, it’s time to end your reliance on the flat bench.
For a multi-dimensional chest, you need to look at exercise multi-dimensionally. There are, of course, a series of basic angles that instantly spring to mind when working the chest. We quickly think of the flat, incline and decline bench press which emphasize the middle, upper and lower pecs, respectively.
But there is one typical mistake that lifters sometimes make that perfectly illustrates the importance of arm angle, relative to your torso. Some trainees may end up turning a flat bench press into what is essentially a decline movement without even realizing it. That’s because they have strayed from the desired lift due to a pronounced arch in the back. This exaggeration in the back changes the angle of movement of the arm in relationship to the torso enough that the body’s motion during the lift is effectively changed from a flat bench into a slight decline.
When you grasp this concept of angle of movement in terms of how your body is moving through space in relationship to itself, you are primed and ready to get the most out of each of your chest exercises to build the chest you have always wanted. So let’s dig a little deeper into exercise movement and how it pertains to pounding the pecs.
So again, instead of looking at the movement of the weight compared to the floor or bench we must look at the movement pattern of the humerus bone (upper arm) in relationship to the torso.
MIDDLE CHEST: As the arm is pulled more directly from the side of the body to the middle of the body by contracting the pecs the humerus motion is mostly in the transverse plane and the middle portion of the chest is the resulting focus.
LOWER CHEST: When the upper arm moves towards the centerline of the body in the transverse plane and slightly downward towards the hips in the sagittal plane the lower part of the chest is emphasized.
UPPER CHEST: To add emphasis on the upper chest the upper arm moves towards the centerline of the body again in the transverse plane while is moves simultaneously in the sagittal plane at an upward trajectory.
When working the chest you must be aware of how the humerus bone is moving in relationship to the rest of your body. By being aware of your arm angles during presses, flyes, cable or machine work, you can keep your chest workouts safer and more effective. Incorporate this knowledge into your training on the regular and you are sure to maximize your gains and build your best chest.