When it comes to building muscle, balance between body parts is crucial if you want a well-rounded, impressive physique. Your quads should be proportionate to your hamstrings, your biceps to your triceps and your shoulders to your lats. One aspect that's not thought about as much, however, is an imbalance within one muscle group. If one side of your chest is bigger than the other, or your upper and lower chest are uneven, change your training to eliminate the imbalance.
Higher or Lower?
One potentially common issue among aspiring bodybuilders, and even general gym goers with a love of weight training, is an imbalance between the upper and lower parts of the chest. This is usually caused by an over-reliance on exercises that work the middle and lower part of the chest, such as bench presses and push-ups. To fix this, trainer Anthony Mychal recommends performing upper-chest activation exercises at the start of each session. These include flyes and V-presses with resistance bands and front raises, pressing two weight plates together. Strength coach Charles Poliquin asserts that the best moves for targeting the upper pecs are those performed on an incline.
Left a Bit, Right a Bit
Having one pec bigger than the other may sound odd, but it's certainly possible, particularly if you favor your strong side when performing barbell chest exercises. An effective way to fix this is to perform all your movements one arm at a time. One-arm flat dumbbell bench presses will weed out any right-left imbalances, notes Tony Gentilcore of Cressey Performance in Boston. Coach Ben Bruno says that one-arm incline push-ups off pins, along with McGill bench presses -- performed like a regular one-arm press, but with only one side of your torso on the bench -- will address imbalances.
Turn Up the Volume
Increasing your training volume, along with upping the frequency of your workouts, can bolster your chest growth. This tactic is particularly useful if your chest is smaller and weaker than other body parts, such as your legs or back. If you usually perform three or four chest exercises during each workout, increase this to five ti six. Also, instead of following a traditional once-a-week focus on each muscle group, work your chest twice, with sessions spaced three to four days apart.
How you perform each exercise plays a major role in developing your chest. Use perfect form on every repetition and try to feel the targeted muscle working on each rep, advises personal trainer Hugo Rivera. Additionally, if one pec is bigger than the other, there's no harm in doing a little extra work for the weaker side.
- Anthony Mychal: The Best Damn Guide for Building Upper Chest Size and Strength
- Poliquin Group: Pecs, Lies and Surgical Tape
- Tony Gentilcore: Exercises You Should Be Doing: 1-Arm Dumbbell Press
- Ben Bruno: 8 Unilateral Pressing Variations
- HugoRivera.net: Natural Bodybuilding Workouts That Fix Disproportionate Muscle Growth