Written by The FLEX staff
May 19, 2008
Think of the chests of guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lee Haney and Silvio Samuel. Sure, they've got wide, hanging pecs like so many other pros, but one quality they all share is great inner pec development.
Inner pecs is often a difficult region of the chest to develop, in large part because we tend to focus our training around barbell movements, yet by switching to dumbbells we can stress the innermost fibers while receiving all the benefits of barbell training. Dumbbells isolate specific parts of a muscle group better than barbells do, so consider switching out your current chest routine with one that's dumbbell-focused for the next eight weeks.
Start your workout with flat-bench dumbbell presses. Concentrate on getting a deep stretch at the bottom of the movement and then exploding up through the positive portion of the rep. That explosion is what stimulates the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the ones you want to target for building mass. Then, at the end, squeeze and flex your pecs, making sure to get every fiber involved in the movement.
Don't smack the dumbbells together at the top of the movement. This only loosens tension on the pecs and sometimes gets you a faceful of metal chips. Keep the dumbbells a few inches apart, at a point where you're still feeling stress on the chest.
Move on to incline dumbbell presses. Make sure that every rep is a quality one; get a full stretch at the bottom of the movement and a strong contraction at the top.
Finally, do dumbbell flyes. Flyes are a tricky movement and you must do them carefully to minimize the risk of shoulder injury. Although it's important to stretch at the bottom range don't bring your wrists out too far past your elbows. When you spread your arms too wide, you open yourself up to injury. Keep your wrists in a vertical line with your elbows, and don't let them drop below the bench pad.
You also want to avoid bringing your elbows up too high along the plane of your body. It's unnatural to keep them up by your shoulders. Instead, drop them down so they're more in line with your ribs. This will help you avoid injury.
As when performing presses, squeeze your pecs at the top of the flye movement and remember not to let the dumbbells touch. Rotate your wrists a bit throughout the course of the movement. In other words, at the bottom, your palms should face slightly away from your head. Then, when you bring up the dumbbells in an arc, begin to turn your wrists so your palms are more or less facing your head at the finish point. This will allow you to place even more stress on your inner chest.
By doing all these things--squeezing at the top, stretching at the bottom, twisting your wrists just so you'll stimulate new growth in your mid-pec region, thus giving your chest better balance and depth.
Note: Alternate this with your regular chest workout.