Trouble Isolating Your Chest During Workouts?
Learn How to Isolate Your Chest
Now before I begin, I want people to understand this post is not a “how to grow your chest” post (however that will be coming soon).
This post is just techniques to help you learn how to isolate your chest, whether it be for bench press or for cable flies. This should assist you in hitting the chest and not the arms, and also help even out asymmetric pectoral muscles.
Tip #1: Use Dumbbells
By using dumbbells, you avoid the overpowering of one pectoral muscle. What I mean by that is, if you can get both dumbbells up you know both muscles are able to push the same weight.
Unlike with a barbell in which if you push a barbell, one pectoral muscle could be pushing more weight than the other and you might not ever know.
By using dumbbells, you are easily able to find out which one is weaker than the other and correct it.
Along with that, I always highly recommend using dumbbells because it helps use stabilizer muscles and give you a larger range of motion, even more than the barbell bench press.
Tip #2: Use a Wider Grip
While barbell bench pressing, a more narrow grip focuses more on the triceps. Oppositely, a wider grip focuses more on the chest.
If you have done dumbbell bench pressing or cable flies, this will make sense because with those exercises the wider you go the more you feel the engagement in your chest. It’s the same concept for barbell bench pressing.
The wider you go, the more chest engagement you’ll get.
Tip #3: Curve Your Back
When you curve your back during any type of bench press, dumbbell or barbell, it’ll transfer weight from your shoulders to your chest.
When I say curve your back I mean pushing your chest upwards, so most of your back isn’t touching the bench.
I will say however, you should maintain certain points of contact. Your shoulder blades, your butt, and your feet. All three of these provide leverage for your chest so you can push more weight.
Which will increase your overall volume lifted for the day, and the more total volume lifted, the more muscle gains you’ll see.
Tip #4: Mind to Muscle Connection
This is a topic that a lot of famous weightlifters talk about, but not everyone understands.
Mind to Muscle connection is the connection you create between your muscle and your mind by feeling each movement independently and to the best of your ability.
What I mean by that is, you aren’t just going through the motions. You are flexing and feeling that muscle independently pulling/pushing the weight all the way.
With every rep, you can feel that muscle pulling/pushing and JUST that muscle (of course with compound movements there will be various muscles you should focus on, but I am referring to isolation movements).
A tip I have for practicing this connection, is to flex the muscle group being worked at the end of every rep. Over time your body will start flexing the muscle at the end of every rep out of habit, creating that connection.
Tip #5: Svend Press
This exercise is one of my favorites, simply because it is guaranteed that you will feel your chest isolated.
You want to get light weight dumbbells (2-5 lbs), in a standing position (or on your back, it should work either way) put both hands on one weight and begin to push outwards from your chest/sternum. Feel the squeeze of your chest, then squeeze it even more. Then start returning it back to your chest for 8-12 reps.
This engages your chest IMMENSELY, I highly recommend embedding this exercise to learn how your chest engages and feels when you flex.
It’ll help you create that Mind to Muscle Connection.
Tip #6: Thumbless Grip (NOT RECOMMENDED WITHOUT A SPOTTER)
This technique is when you move your thumb from wrapping around the bar, to along-side your fingers.
This technique is good for some people and very bad for other people because of the balance you have to have with your hands.
I have had multiple friends drop the weight on their neck which is super dangerous because it can mess up the way you breathe as well as your vocal chords.
I do not recommend this grip however I did want to inform you about it, in case you wanted to try it out. However I highly recommend having a spotter to prevent injury if you decide to do so.
But this grip does help isolate your chest muscles because you will not be expending energy to your forearms and can put that energy towards your chest. You will also need to use more stabilizing muscles in your chest because of the balance lost through your grip.
Let me know in the comment below if you have any questions about a certain technique or if you want a certain muscle group focused on in the next isolation post.
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