Simply put: if you’re not doing unilateral chest work, you don’t have the right to complain about your shitty chest development. Especially for your inner chest.
Most people develop unevenly, and the weakest areas tend to be the origin point at the sternum, and the clavicular overall.
In bro-speak, I mean your inner chest and your upper-inner chest.
Now: before we go any further, there’s gonna be some exercise science major or performance specialist chiming in and waving their arms and telling you that muscles contract as a whole and you can’t target specific areas.
The first piece of advice for how to fix your chest imbalance is to ignore that person. Fuck that guy, seriously.
Dude probably has a lame physique, and has never helped anyone achieved an impressive and well-balanced one.
Now, some douche like that may come in and call me a BroScientist and argue with me. But he can’t argue with guys like Bret Contreras who is definitely a Bro, but also an ACTUAL SCIENTIST who has researched this shit.
All right, cool. Moving on.
So, one of the problems with chest development is exercise selection. And here’s where unilateral exercises come in.
Keep in mind, one of the primary functions of the pec is to adduct the humerus, or pull the arm medially across the body. Not just TO the midline of the body, but ACROSS it.
In a bilateral exercise, the range of motion of each arm is limited by the other arm: your arms meet in the middle.
This creates a massive limitation for chest development because the muscle fibers closest to the sternum more easily achieve peak contraction and overload once you cross the midline.
Performing the exercise one arm at a time allows you to do just that. Note that this mostly applies to exercises performed on machines or with cables—most free weight exercises lose resistance at the end range. So, to that…
Note: slight incline works magic for the upper chest.
– Go heavy with this one (4-6 sets, 5-8 reps).
– No need to travel past the midline, but in doing this unilaterally with some tactile stimulation drastically increases recruitment of the clavicular head of the pec. In a previous article, I talked about the benefits of touching yourself (heh) while working on a certain muscle group. This is only possible in unilateral exercises.
– High reps here: 3-4 sets of 12, 15, or even 20 reps
– Come all the way across the body and focus on flexing and squeezing to maximize contraction at the end range.
– EMG studies have shown that fiber recruitment is better with a palms-down grip, but alternate and see what works for you.
– You can vary this in terms of load and volume, but I like to make it one of my primary exercises for the session and go with either 5×10 or 8×8.
– Few things look more brodiculous than this exercise, but it’s fantastic for getting in some pressing while moving across the mid-line to optimize activation and recruitment across the sternum.
– Good luck dealing with the scathing looks while you monopolize the machine for an hour.
– Extra bro points for hammer strength.