It may seem to you that it is harder to build the inner chest as opposed to the outer chest. There are three basic reasons why:
The truth is this: In order to most effectively build the inner chest, you must remember that it’s not about the extension of the arms, but it’s about the rotation of the shoulder. For you to acquire a peak contraction in the chest, it requires the shoulder to completely rotate forward as you are contracting with resistance. Unfortunately, because of the inherent constraints of most chest exercises, building a great chest becomes more difficult.
Quite frankly, most exercise equipment is inadequate when it comes to maximizing the development of the chest. In fact, I had to design my own piece of exercise equipment – the Iron Chest Master – in order to find an adequate remedy for this problem. Prior to understanding arc movements, my chest was the weakest part of my physique, and I had to discover a solution through work, research, testing and study so that I could balance my entire body.
Ultimately, at the conclusion of this process, what I discovered was simply this: Every muscle group in the body is made in an arc formation, and in order to build and maximize the muscle size and shape we must stay within that arc that the muscle was created in. This not only builds the muscle, but it protects the joint.
Let us use the bird as an example. I studied the anatomy and the movement of a bird in flight. The largest and leanest muscle group on a bird is the chest. I also noticed that the structure of a bird’s upper body is similar to a human when it comes to the chest and the shoulder joint. The bird flies using an arc, which develops the chest as it protects the joint. As the bird flies, he receives resistance from gravity, but he also produces lateral resistance as he pushes against the air. This maximizes the development of his chest. I duplicated this movement in the Iron Chest Master.
The Iron Chest Master allows its user to move in the same arc formation as a bird in flight, mimicking the arc movement and developing the chest in the same manner using the downward pressure of gravity during the pushup phase, along with lateral resistance from resistance bands, creating a peak contraction and complete development of the inner chest.
Let me explain some of the limitations of a few of the most popular chest builders.
The pushup is a convenient exercise that can be done just about anywhere without a person ever having to go to the gym. There is a right way and a wrong way to do a pushup, and neither of these ways will adequately train your inner chest.
The most effective way to work your chest while doing a pushup is to make sure you assume a power position, meaning that your hands are far enough apart that your triceps and your forearms reach a 90-degree angle, and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are on the same plane as your chest proceeds down toward the ground.
The objective is to open your chest and force your shoulders back. If you don’t think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish, you will almost automatically place your elbows close to your body, bringing your hands closer together. As a result, the movement will no longer focus on the chest. Instead, the resistance and the pressure moves to the triceps and places your shoulder joints in a compromised position.
Even when the pushup is done correctly it has no lateral movement or lateral resistance. The pushup does not allow for a full range of motion, which is what is required to isolate the inner chest.
Dumbbell Press and Bench Press
The dumbbell press is better than the barbell bench press because the movement can be adapted to the body, and the hands and arms can move independently from one another. However, dumbbells still can’t create any lateral resistance that directly affects the inside of the chest because the resistance always comes in the form of gravity, from the floor to the ceiling.
Both pushups and bench presses will never allow you to achieve a peak contraction, because they lack a full range of motion and lateral resistance
One of the fundamental problems with a chest fly is that the motion involves the use of the bicep. The further your hands slide away from your body, the more the biceps are involved in stabilizing the weight. The bicep is a much smaller and weaker muscle group than the chest, so the bicep limits the amount of weight you can use. Also, there is no direct lateral resistance. This is yet another case where resistance in the motion is delivered by gravity, and it is generated vertically from the floor to the ceiling. At no point does the manipulation of the hands compensate for this.
Cable crossovers allow you to build the middle of your chest, but once again, there’s an obvious limitation when it comes to training the inner part of the chest: All of the resistance comes from behind you, and there is no way to change its direction. Cable crossovers will permit you to stretch the shoulders back to open your chest wide, and then you can drive both the shoulders and arms forward, squeezing in the center. This gives you one of the best center-chest contractions available through normal means, but it still doesn’t provide you with any focused, lateral resistance. Moreover, this movement completely lacks the power position, which is your body’s strongest position.
Many people attempt to replicate the basic motion of chest flys and crossovers at home by sliding their hands together from wide to narrow positions using paper plates. Not only can it be very dangerous to slide your hands along an unguided path while all of your bodyweight is hovering over your shoulders, but it ultimately isn’t accomplishing what you want. At no point is any lateral resistance being applied to your chest during the movement, nor are you obtaining the power position. Therefore, when you do this exercise, you are training your chest in an inefficient and unsafe fashion and achieving few benefits, if any.
I hope this explanation of chest exercises has been beneficial to you. For more great fitness tips, feel free to check out the rest of the blog at RonWilliamsFitness.com, and also the Ron Williams channel on YouTube!