Q: I’m trying to get that crisp division between my pecs. I want to be able to see the inner part of my chest muscles from the lower part all the way up to the collarbone. I do lots of cable crossovers, but I’m only seeing a bit of detail in my lower chest. Any suggestions?
A: One problem may be fat in the area. A bit of adipose covering the pecs will blur or negate any detail. You need to be fairly lean to see the chest-muscle division (cleavage) from top to bottom.
If you’re fairly lean and simply lack development, cable crossovers isn’t the best exercise. A move that stretches your pecs against resistance will provide more stress down the center, like dumbbell flyes or cable flyes—but on either you need to focus on the stretch, not the contraction (don’t try to exaggerate the stretch, however, or you could injure your shoulder joints).
End-of-set X-Rep partials in the part of the stroke where you feel a distinct pull on the pecs can help too—on those two exercises and even on bench presses. Here’s a quote from respected muscle-science researcher Jacob Wilson, BSc., MSc., CSCS, that verifies that:
Partial-range reps in the lower range of a muscle can actually add sarcomeres to a muscle fiber, which would fill out the area of a muscle where it is inserted.
The inner pecs consist of the insertion points of the pectoralis major, so you see how short-stroke X Reps in the stretch or semi-stretch position can add to development there. We believe that’s especially true on stretch-position exercises, like flyes for the pecs. It has to do with the stress and pull on the muscle at the insertion point. But even on a big midrange exercise like squats, if you stop your reps above parallel, you don’t get a lot of stretch in the quads, and you can end up with turnip thighs, that is, not a lot of development down near the knee where the muscles insert.
So elongating the target muscle against resistance is important on most exercises. The answer for your particular inner-pec-detail problem is dumbbell flyes or cable flyes, using a variety of stretch-amplifying techniques, like X Reps at the stretch point at the end of a set; Double-X Overload, which is an X-Rep partial in the bottom (stretch) position between each full rep; StatS, a static hold in the stretch position for 30 to 60 seconds (slight pulses are recommended).
Cable crossovers can give you pretty good occlusion, or blood-flow
NOTE: For more on highly-effective X-hybrid techniques, including static contraction that produced pounds of muscle in subjects after only one workout, see the X-Rep Update #1 e-book; for more on DXO and the program we used after our X-Rep transformation to gain 10 more pounds of muscle, see the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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