This workout from the legend that was John Meadows will help you to build a stronger, more functional and better looking lower and outer chest.
Deceptively simple, this one will burn!
What are the Muscles of the Chest?
The muscles of the chest, also known as the pectoral muscles or pecs, are a group of muscles located in the upper body.
They play a significant role in movements of the shoulder joint and are responsible for various actions such as flexion, adduction, and medial rotation of the arm. The major muscles of the chest include:
- Pectoralis Major: This is the largest and most superficial muscle of the chest. It has two parts: the clavicular head (upper part) and the sternal head (lower part). The pectoralis major is responsible for movements like flexion, adduction, and medial rotation of the arm.
- Pectoralis Minor: This muscle lies underneath the pectoralis major. It is a smaller muscle that originates from the third, fourth, and fifth ribs and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula. The pectoralis minor helps in stabilizing the scapula and assists in pulling the shoulder forward and downward.
- Serratus Anterior: Although not strictly a chest muscle, the serratus anterior is located on the lateral side of the chest and plays an important role in stabilizing the scapula. It originates from the upper ribs and attaches to the medial border of the scapula. The serratus anterior is responsible for protraction (forward movement) and upward rotation of the scapula.
These are the primary muscles of the chest. However, it’s worth noting that other muscles, such as the subclavius, the subclavius pectoralis, and some of the muscles of the shoulder girdle, also contribute to the overall function and appearance of the chest.
John Meadows, who passed away on August 8, 2021, was a renowned professional bodybuilder and fitness coach. He was born on February 27, 1972, in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Meadows had a notable career in competitive bodybuilding, earning his professional status in the sport.
John Meadows’ contributions to the fitness industry extended beyond his coaching services. He also authored articles for various publications and appeared on podcasts and interviews, sharing insights on training, nutrition, supplementation, and mindset.
Meadows was highly respected and beloved within the bodybuilding and fitness community for his expertise, passion, and willingness to help others. His untimely passing was met with great sadness, and his legacy continues to inspire and impact individuals pursuing their fitness and bodybuilding goals.
Workout for the Lower and Outer Chest
- Cable Crossover
- Decline Press
Video – Workout for the Lower and Outer Chest
John talks through all the details in the video below.
Why is a Strong Chest Beneficial?
Having a strong chest offers several benefits, both in terms of aesthetics and functional abilities. Here are some reasons why a strong chest is beneficial:
Upper Body Strength: The chest muscles, particularly the pectoralis major, are large and powerful muscles. Developing strength in the chest enhances overall upper body strength, allowing you to perform various activities that involve pushing or lifting. This includes everyday tasks like carrying groceries, pushing objects, or engaging in sports and physical activities that require upper body strength, such as weightlifting, swimming, or throwing.
Improved Posture: A strong chest helps promote good posture. The chest muscles, along with the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and core, work together to maintain proper alignment of the spine and shoulders. Weak chest muscles can contribute to rounded shoulders and a forward head posture, leading to imbalances and potential musculoskeletal issues. Strengthening the chest can counteract these imbalances and promote better posture.
Enhanced Athletic Performance: Many sports and physical activities involve the upper body, and having a strong chest can improve performance in these activities.
Whether it’s throwing a ball, swinging a bat or racket, performing martial arts, or engaging in contact sports, a strong chest provides power and stability, enabling you to generate force, transfer energy efficiently, and excel in your chosen activities.
Balanced Physique: A well-developed chest contributes to a balanced and symmetrical physique. It is a prominent muscle group, and having a strong and defined chest can enhance your overall appearance and contribute to a pleasing aesthetic.
Injury Prevention: A strong chest, when combined with a balanced exercise routine, can help prevent certain injuries. Strong chest muscles provide stability and support to the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of shoulder dislocation and other shoulder-related injuries. Additionally, a strong chest can help prevent muscle imbalances and promote better movement mechanics, reducing the likelihood of overuse injuries or strain on other muscles and joints.
It’s important to note that achieving a strong chest should be part of a well-rounded exercise program that includes exercises targeting other muscle groups as well. Balanced strength and overall muscular development are crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention.
The cable crossover exercise is a popular strength training exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the chest (pectoral muscles), but also engages the shoulders, triceps, and other stabilizing muscles. It is commonly performed using a cable machine equipped with two adjustable pulleys positioned at a high setting.
Here’s how to perform the cable crossover exercise:
- Stand in the center of the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
- Grasp the handles attached to the pulleys, one in each hand, with your palms facing forward.
- Take a step forward to create tension on the cables, ensuring that you maintain a balanced stance.
- Position your arms slightly below shoulder level, maintaining a slight bend at the elbows.
- Engage your core, keep your chest up, and maintain good posture throughout the exercise.
- Begin the movement by bringing your arms forward and crossing them in front of your body.
- Continue the motion until your hands meet in the centre of your body, squeezing your chest muscles.
- Slowly reverse the movement, returning to the starting position with controlled resistance.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Tips and variations:
Adjusting the height of the pulleys can target different areas of the chest. Lower pulleys emphasize the lower chest, while higher pulleys target the upper chest.
Experiment with different grip variations, such as overhand grip, underhand grip, or a combination of both, to target the chest muscles from various angles.
Focus on maintaining proper form and controlling the movement throughout to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury.
The cable crossover exercise can also be performed using a single-arm approach, focusing on one side at a time.
Why are Dips an Effective Exercise for Chest?
Dips are considered an effective exercise for targeting the chest muscles due to the following reasons:
Full Range of Motion: Dips allow for a greater range of motion compared to many other chest exercises. When performed correctly, dips involve both shoulder extension and adduction, which means the arms move down and inward. This deep stretch and contraction of the chest muscles during dips can effectively engage the pectoral muscles throughout the movement.
Compound Exercise: Dips are a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. While primarily targeting the chest muscles, dips also recruit the triceps, shoulders, and even the core muscles for stability and support. This compound nature of dips allows for efficient and effective activation of the chest muscles along with other muscles involved in pushing movements.
Variable Resistance: Dips can be easily adjusted to increase or decrease resistance based on your fitness level and goals. For instance, using additional weight through a dip belt or weighted vest can progressively overload the chest muscles and promote strength and muscle growth. On the other hand, using bodyweight alone can still provide a challenging workout, especially for beginners.
Stabilization and Core Engagement: Dips require stabilization throughout the movement, particularly in the shoulders and core. The chest muscles, along with the triceps and shoulders, work in coordination to stabilize and control the descent and ascent during dips. This added stabilization and engagement of the core muscles help develop overall upper body strength and stability.
Versatility: Dips can be performed in different variations to target specific areas of the chest. For example, leaning forward during dips places more emphasis on the lower chest, while staying upright targets the middle and upper chest. By adjusting your body position and angle, you can modify the emphasis on different parts of the chest, providing versatility in your chest training.
It’s important to note that proper form and technique are crucial when performing dips to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury. If you’re new to dips, it’s advisable to start with assisted dips or use parallel bars that allow you to have more control and support during the exercise. As you progress and gain strength, you can gradually transition to unassisted dips and explore various dip variations.
Decline Barbell Bench Press
The decline barbell bench press is a variation of the traditional barbell bench press that primarily targets the lower portion of the chest muscles (pectoralis major) while also engaging the triceps and shoulders.
In this exercise, the bench is set at a decline angle, typically ranging from 15 to 30 degrees downward.
Here’s how to perform the decline barbell bench press:
- Set up a decline bench press station and adjust it to your desired angle (typically between 15 to 30 degrees decline).
- Lie down on the bench with your head positioned lower than your feet. Your feet should be securely placed under the footpads or anchored on the floor.
- Grip the barbell with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Ensure your wrists are straight and aligned with your forearms.
- Lift the barbell off the rack and position it directly above your lower chest, with your arms fully extended.
- Lower the barbell in a controlled manner towards the lower chest while maintaining proper form and tension throughout the movement. Allow the barbell to touch your chest or come close to it.
- Press the barbell back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms while keeping your shoulders and chest engaged.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Tips and variations:
Focus on maintaining a stable and controlled movement throughout the exercise. Avoid bouncing the bar off your chest and use a controlled tempo for both the lowering and lifting phases.
Engage your core muscles and keep your back flat against the bench throughout the exercise.
It’s recommended to have a spotter for safety and assistance, especially when using heavy weights.
Adjust the angle of the decline bench to target different areas of the chest. A steeper decline (greater angle) will place more emphasis on the lower chest, while a smaller decline angle will engage the middle chest to a greater extent.
If you don’t have access to a decline bench, you can also perform a decline barbell bench press using an adjustable bench set to a decline position or using an incline bench turned around (head at the lower end).
As with any exercise, it’s essential to use proper form, start with an appropriate weight, and progress gradually to avoid injury and achieve optimal results.
Why is Protein Vital for Muscle Growth?
Protein is essential for muscle growth due to its role in muscle protein synthesis, the process by which new muscle protein is formed. Here are several reasons why protein is vital for muscle growth:
Amino Acid Building Blocks: Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. When you consume protein, it is broken down into its constituent amino acids during digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream. These amino acids are then used by the body to synthesize new proteins and repair damaged muscle tissue.
Muscle Protein Synthesis: Muscle protein synthesis is the process of building new muscle protein. To stimulate muscle protein synthesis, an adequate supply of essential amino acids, particularly branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), is required. Consuming protein-rich foods or supplements provides the necessary amino acids to support muscle protein synthesis and promote muscle growth.
Muscle Recovery and Repair: Intense exercise, such as resistance training, causes micro-damage to muscle fibres. Protein plays a critical role in the repair and recovery process. Consuming protein after exercise helps provide the necessary amino acids to repair damaged muscle tissue, promoting recovery and muscle growth.
Positive Nitrogen Balance: Nitrogen balance refers to the balance between nitrogen intake and excretion. Nitrogen is primarily obtained from dietary protein. Achieving a positive nitrogen balance means that nitrogen intake exceeds nitrogen excretion. This indicates that the body has enough protein available for muscle protein synthesis and other essential functions, facilitating muscle growth.
Satiety and Muscle Preservation: Protein is highly satiating, meaning it helps you feel fuller for longer. Adequate protein intake can support weight management goals by reducing appetite and preventing overeating. Additionally, consuming sufficient protein helps preserve lean muscle mass during periods of calorie restriction or weight loss, ensuring that the body primarily loses fat rather than muscle.
It’s important to note that while protein is crucial for muscle growth, it should be consumed in conjunction with a well-rounded diet and proper training stimulus.
The overall calorie intake, macronutrient balance, and individual factors such as age, sex, activity level, and goals also play a role in optimizing muscle growth and body composition.
Consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can provide personalized guidance on protein intake and overall nutrition for muscle growth.