If any of you have spent a little time in the gym looking to isolate and develop different parts of your body in the quest for the ideal body, you have undoubtedly come across the idea of upper and lower chest separation exercises.
Is this really something you should concern yourself with? Or is it simply another broscience tip?
While you do have separate and distinct musculature for the chest region, working out generally has a compound effect on the region rather than completely isolating the parts. The two primary muscles we concern ourselves with when doing a chest exercise are the pectoralis major, and pectoralis minor.
As you can see, the pectoralis major makes up the bulk majority of the “chest” muscle. This is what you will see develop as you train with resistance, grow muscle, and lose body fat.
As you can see the deep pectoralis minor muscle has attachment sites at a different angle to the pectoralis major, but overall remains hidden beneath the muscle mass of the pectoralis major muscle group. In addition, the pectoralis major has attachment sites at slightly different angles across its body relative to the sternum and clavicle.
This means you can isolate, to a small degree, the different sections of the pectoralis major with different exercises and movements. You will be working the majority of the pectoralis major muscle during any chest specific exercises.
One of the most mainstream, and most effective, chest exercises is the barbell bench press. This compound exercise (meaning it works multiple muscle groups) will give you the best chance at developing an overall proportionate chest musculature.
To gain an edge and make sure you are working the pectoralis from all angles, include barbell incline bench press in your routine. This will bring your leverage point higher relative to your torso, and put greater stress on the muscle fibers attached near the clavicle as you contract the pectoralis major.
If you want to take it a step further, include dumbbell versions of the bench press and incline bench press allowing for maximum range of motion, thus stimulating a fuller muscle stretch.
Your chest will develop proportionally to your overall muscle development when you execute these key exercises and lose the necessary body fat to reveal them. No need to stress about complete isolation of one “section” of the chest over another.
Just follow a well balanced weight training program, and incorporate a combination of bench press and incline bench press on your chest development days, and you will be on the right track to success.
Here is the link to a scientific peer reviewed article analyzing chest muscle recruitment activity using the bench press:
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*I am not a professional trainer, nor does any of my advice replace the council or consent of a physician or professional trainer. This article assumes one is training naturally, without the use of performance enhancing drugs. Do your research and diet/train at your own risk. Heavy weights have the potential of being dangerous, so use the help of a spotter if needed, and make sure you use proper form in all exercises! Best of luck in your journey! *