Before I go into the thing you need to immediately change in your chest workout, let’s talk about what the pecs do. Then you’ll understand better why this adjustment will make the WORLD of difference.
There are two parts of your pec, the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major, is a thick, fan-shaped muscle that attaches to each of the top 6 or 7 ribs on one side, and all of its muscle fibers connect to the humerus through a small, flat tendon. The humerus is the upper bone of the arm, and as a result, these muscle fibers pull on that bone and bring your arm inward across your chest. The pectoralis minor is a small, triangle shaped muscle that is underneath the pectoralis major and attaches on one side to ribs 3, 4, and 5, and on the other attaches to the scapula, or the shoulder blade. The pectoralis minor is responsible to stabilize the scapula by drawing it in and up. Your ‘chest’ generally refers to your pectoralis major, as the minor isn’t a superficial muscle- and can’t be seen. So when I refer hereafter to your ‘chest’ I’m referring to your pectoralis major.
So because your chest pulls the arm inward, it’s the motion of pushing forward (with the triceps as well) and the motion of a fly (flapping your arms like a bird) that contracts the chest. Of course, you can vary angle and grip to hit different areas in the chest, depending on which fibers, and the rib they’re attached to, bear the pressure of the movement. I’m not going to go into that, because that’s likely not what you’re doing wrong.
The mistake you’re most likely making is with your grip. (I’m talking about gripping a barbell too. Obviously this is different with dumbbells, etc.) When most people grab a barbell, they grab it and push. They even focus on isolating the chest. But unless you’re making this adjustment, you’re not isolating your chest as well as you could.
You see… When most people grab the bar, the pressure of the bar rests in the palm of the hand. Doing that brings your thumbs down, and your elbow out. A proper barbell grip (and this will make the WORLD of difference for you if you’re not already doing this) should consist of you grabbing the barbell like a handful of spaghetti. When you break spaghetti noodles in half, you push from the thumbs with your outside fingers rotating back in toward your body. It’s the same motion as if trying to break a stick, or bend a metal rod held out in front of you. Trying to focus on bending the barbell when you’re grabbing it will bring your elbow IN during your press. What that will do for you is it will bring your upper arm in, and focus the pressure of the press in your chest, instead of spreading the tension out throughout your shoulder joint. In order for me to focus on changing this grip, I like to put my thumb along the length of the barbell so that I can actually focus on trying to bend the bar.
It doesn’t seem like that big of a change, but the moment you do it, you’ll feel a difference! Let us know when you try it and what you think!
– The Squad