Throughout the fitness industry, it is widely believed that performing certain body exercises will help you lose weight in certain areas of your body. For instance, doing a combination of different ab exercises will get you that six-pack you’ve always wanted. Countless personal coaches claim that doing their specific set of exercises can tone different parts of your body.
Unfortunately, most of these people are trying to sell you something. It has been conclusively proven that it is impossible to isolate specific muscles for definition. This means that an exercise that claims to work the upper pectoral will also work the lower pectoral and vice versa. There is no exercise that will work one area but leave every other area alone.
There are three different sections to your pectoral muscles that all need to be worked on in order to build a strong and sculpted chest.
Many who are looking to grow their chest can focus on isolated exercises that don’t move the shoulder blades. These movements may seem effective, but they actually neglect the most important muscle, the Pectoralis Minor. This muscle is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder blades and promoting fluid arm movement and range of motion.
On top of the pectoralis minor lays the Pectoralis Major. As mentioned above, this is the muscle that most weightlifters target when they want to grow their chest. It is responsible for moving arms in toward the body and rotating your elbows out.
The Serratus Anterior muscle is another that can be neglected by those who are only focusing on visible growth. It lies directly under the Pectoralis Major and is essential for stabilization and movement. It helps the Pectoralis Minor stabilize the shoulder blades during movement and holds the rib cage up so your lungs have more room to expand.
Knowing the anatomy of the human chest is important. However, most people think that knowing the different muscles means that you can learn different movements to isolate each one. This is an incorrect mindset and will do more harm than good to your body long-term.
The answer to the question of muscle isolation is a complicated one. The answer is both “yes” and “no”.
It’s been proven that you can perform certain exercises that only target one muscle group in your body such as your arms, chest, or buttocks. Performing these exercises repetitively over time will break down that muscle and build it back stronger and more toned, thus aesthetically growing the area.
While you can perform isolation exercises that target a specific muscle group, you cannot target specific muscles within that muscle group while neglecting the others. If you are doing an exercise that targets your Pectoralis Major, it is impossible for both the Pectoralis Minor and Serratus Anterior to not be activated to an equal or lesser degree.
The human body is a complex system of interconnected muscles that are all required to perform certain movements. While you can target specific muscle groups, you cannot turn specific muscles on and off within that group.Also read: Top 10 Business Intelligence Tools of 2021
We’ve learned that it is physically impossible to isolate the internal pectoral muscle for strength and growth. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t intentionally incorporate movements that target it as part of the larger pectoral muscle group. To do that, you need a combination of compound and isolation exercises.
Compound exercises are exercises that mimic realistic movements in everyday life and target entire muscle groups at one time. Squats, presses, deadlifts, and rows are all examples of compound exercises that strengthen entire muscle groups with one fluid motion.
Isolation exercises are exercises that are meant to target one specific muscle rather than an entire group. Bicep curls, Russian twists, and leg extensions are popular examples of isolation exercises. These exercises can be effective for aesthetics and strength training if integrated properly. For instance, focusing on chest workouts will build strength and increase your ability to do compound lifts like rows, overhead lifts, and presses.
However, isolation exercises can become dangerous if you focus on only one group while neglecting other areas. For instance, if you want to grow your upper body and only focus on your chest and arms, you may unintentionally neglect your core. This strength imbalance could lead to severe injuries and even permanent damage down the road.
The only way to target specific muscles within a muscle group is to find out what angle activates that muscle. Joints can only move in so many directions, but each of those directions requires a different muscle within that group. This means that, while you won’t be able to ONLY target that muscle, you can choose an exercise that puts stress on a specific muscle more than the rest in the muscle group.
For instance, overhead presses will target your Pectoralis Minor and Serratus Anterior more than your Pectoralis Major. On the other hand, bench presses will activate your Pectoralis Major more than your Serratus Anterior.
Combining functional fitness with your aesthetic goals is a journey that can sometimes take a lifetime. The key is being intentional about becoming familiar with your body and how it moves. If you prioritize overall strength, power, and flexibility, the aesthetics will begin to show naturally.
If you are trying to grow your pectoral muscles and are frustrated because you aren’t seeing the results you want, try changing your perspective. Isolation exercises will only show results if you combine them with compound exercises that increase overall strength and stability.
The primary reason for exercise is to keep your body strong and healthy as you age. Without that mindset, it can be very difficult to remain consistent enough to achieve your aesthetic goals. However, once you have that solid foundation, you will find it that much easier to stay healthy and strong.
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