In bodybuilding – particularly competition – all muscles are important, but as some are more prominent than others, some are clearly more equal than others. If that weren’t the case, then Tom Platz wouldn’t have gotten such acclaim for his thighs. Arnold for his chest. Dorian Yates for his back, etc. They would have gotten criticism for their extreme parts.
Now, you don’t have to have extreme development of a body part to look great, but some body parts – like the aforementioned – need to be developed to a high standard because they are so prominent. Particularly the chest – the centrepiece to the upper body – which is what this article is all about.
The chest – scientific name pectoralis major – is used for bringing the arms across the body, or for pushing away from the body. In case you are wondering where the pectoralis minor is, that’s situated underneath (underneath as in sat under) the pectoralis major.
Like any muscle, they can only be worked for how they were designed to be worked, so for proper pectoralis major development you need to utilize exercises such as dumbbell flys – an Arnold favourite – which use the chests pulling-across function, or pressing movements such as the bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline, decline and so forth. Cable movements are also great for working the chest.
The pectoralis major is split into 2 parts: the clavicular head, which is the top part of the pectorals, a thin band of muscle running just under the clavicle. The sternal head is the big area beneath, which includes the nipple. As a rule of thumb, when you do a chest exercise, you work all areas of the chest, but some find they can better ‘isolate’ the clavicular section by performing chest exercises in an incline position, and isolate the lower sternal section by exercising in decline.
The absolute key to chest development is to stretch at the bottom, and squeeze at the top. Engaging the muscles is something of crucial importance for all exercises, but, the chest seems to be an area which, like the lats, people have a hard time engaging, therefore they lift more with their arms forgetting about consciously engaging and using the chest. By consciously making use of the chest you get the best development.