T Nation

How Much Work for Different Chest Divisions?

Lets say we’re doing 8 sets for chest.
How much of that would you give for upper chest vs sternal vs costal?
Im currently doing:
DB Incline: 2 sets
Low DB Incline: 2 sets
Decline DB: 2 sets
Low to High Fly: 1 set
Sternal Pec Fly: 1 set

How much do you do for the diffrent devisions? I see a lot of Chest routines with way more focus on Sternal and Costal Pecs (Middle and Lower) as opposed to Upper, my Upper Chest is kind of lagging.

As far as I’ve read the research, low incline is best for upper chest, with traditional incline being a lot more shoulder focused. Id drop DB incline and do 3 sets of low Incline, 3 sets of the decline. Id probably ad a set each to the flyes, but thats just because i never feel like 1 set of something is quite enough.

3 Likes

That makes sense, thanks!
While we’re on it, whats your opinion on how to divide up back work? Like Lats, Upper Back Thickness and Lower Back.
With 10 sets of Back work, how would you divide that up? Thanks again!

I think you’re into a good thing with setting yourself a volume limit. I don’t know if 10 sets is the right number, but the concept does prevent you from just throwing a billion moves at something to be “complete”.

I think you have to do a little bit of gap analysis: what do you need most? I’m of the mind that if you get thicker you’ll get wider, so you can knock those out together to an extent. I don’t need a ton of trap work, but some folks do. I always have to keep my low back strong, but that doesn’t take a ton of volume. And I find I think I fit my clothes better if I do some lower lat work.

So 10 sets for me would probably look something like:

  • 2 sets hammer strength rows
  • 3 sets DB rows
  • 2 sets supinated pull-downs
  • 1 set DB shrugs
  • 2 sets hyperextension

This is kind of a fun thread idea!

1 Like

Yeah, kinda got the idea from Paul Carters thread on the driver of muscle growth, learned so much from reading that thread and i settled on 10 sets for back, 8 sets for chest, 8 for legs and 8 for Biceps and Triceps, but wasn’t sure how one would split that up for the different regions of the muscle groups.

For something like Arms, wich from you avatar seems you know a thing or two about, how would you go about diding up work for that? Doing lower weight and shorter rest and MMC like John Meadows recommends, or do you do more compound and heavy weight?

This looks good to me. Just personal preference but Id do 3 hammer strength to two DB rows.

I prefer this style for all my training as a rule.

So for arms, something like CGBP and Chin Ups? And for arms, would the heavy compounds be the majority of the Arm Training volume, or would that just be a top set and then doing more isolation exercises that hit the shortened and lengthened positions to fill the rest of the volume for arms?

1 Like

My back was pretty Whack so I started separating back width or lats from back thickness or traps/mid-back.

One back day, all pulldowns are rows with elbows “in” for lats.

Another day shruggings and rows with the elbows “out” for mid back.

It was effective, only it got a little boring after awhile.

2 Likes

Id include these for the first 2-3 sets of each, but my focus on weight rather than short rest extends to my isolations too. I’d rather get 2-3 good heavy sets of preacher curls in than sacrifice weight and reps for the sake of short rest.

2 sets Close grip chins
2 sets DB hammer curls
2 sets preacher curl - medium to wide grip
2 sets spider curls - close to medium grip

would be my go-to 8 set bicep workout

Thanks.
First, I’m probably this forum’s most annoying Meadows whore, so keep that in mind.

I think you can take a couple approaches with arms. Biceps is all about form - curl up and “out”; keep it a curl and don’t just get the bar up to your shoulders.

Triceps can definitely grow from performance lifts so long as you’re getting to lockout; I don’t think most of us have to stress MMC as much here unless we’re cutting our reps short. Dips, floor press, etc. are great.

I think (and this isn’t arms-specific) there’s a point of diminishing returns on getting stronger for size. So, if you can’t curl the bar for 10 reps, it’s not the right time to start stressing about how to build your workout. However, if you’re heaving through sets of 12 with 135, it’s time to start planning for joint health vs. straight overload.

My arm workouts are typically short and fast now, because it’s boring and they’re obviously my only strong point so whatever. Depending where you are on the scale above (and whether you want an arm day or to tack them onto something else), I’m happy to offer a “what I would do”.

How you prioritize chest work should be determined by first defining your primary weightlifting goal (ie, appearance enhancement vs increasing strength vs sports performance vs general health), then assessing your current status vis a vis that goal. As I read your post, it suggests to me that 1) your primary goal is appearance-related, and 2) your upper chest is lagging in that regard. Assuming my inferences are correct, I would suggest you devote all of your chest training to the upper region.

To that end, the next order of business is figuring out which exercises actually work that area for you. That is, you should endeavor to pick exercises for which you have evidence that they actually work (for you), as opposed to doing them because some ‘expert’ says they work. (I’ll give you an example that may seem counterintuitive in that regard. Without question, the best upper chest exercise I have ever done is decline guillotines, and it ain’t close. As for traditional incline work, I get little to no upper-chest stimulation from it.)

2 Likes

I’ve found that if i do Low to High Flies first, then Incline DB and Low Incline DB, then Decline, i at least feel my upper chest working on the decline.

But i’ll try the Gullotine as well and see how that feels. Do you perform it with a barbell or dumbbells. I can’t do barbell work because of my shoulders, but dumbbells feels fine for me.

Also, with your recommendation on only doing Upper Chest Work, how would you split it in terms of exercises? How many sets of Gullotine Presses vs Upper Chest Flies for the 8 sets in this example?
Thanks!

Yeah, while the more heavy lifting style that @Pinkylifting recommends makes sense to me for Arm Training, i tend to feel heavy curls in my traps and forearms, and chins mostly in my back. So the meadows style is more intriguing to me at least.
My current arm workout is: (2 sets per movement)
Cross Body Extensions
Seated Lap Curls
Rope Pushdowns
DB Preacher Curls
Machine Dips
DB Hammer Curls
Lying DB Extensions
Spider KB Curls (with one KB)

Was wondering about adding more heavy movements, arm training is just something i never seemed to get right, never really felt the target muscles and never got a good pump.

Would like to see your spin on the 8 sets for Arms like the example @Pinkylifting gave.

Thanks!

The orginal questions about how one would split up the chest training, i’m really talking about balance.

So this can be applied to all muscle groups, even arms when talking about how much work one would do for the biceps vs the brachialis and the long head of the triceps vs medial and lateral head (i know it can’t be isolated only emphasized with different exercises)

How one would split up the workouts in order to achieve the most mass while also getting the most aesthetically pleasing physice.

Sounds like you need to try it with DBs.

I would recommend first identifying a set of exercises that work for you, ie, that both hit the upper chest and don’t bother your shoulders. Once you know what your exercise options are, we can talk about how to program them. But we can’t readily say what you should do until we know what you can do.

Edited to add: In order to increase your exercise options, you might ask posters to list the upper-chest exercises they’ve used with success, so you can take them out for a test-drive.

1 Like

If you’d like to something similar to what you’re doing now on it’s own day, I’d probably:

  1. Superset 1:
  • DB Hammer Curl: 3 sets of 10 + 5 partials each set
  • Rope Pressdown: 3 sets of 12 full ROM
  1. Superset 2:
  • BB Curl: 3 sets of 6-8. Lower slowly to stay honest, but this is your “heavy” move
  • Floor Press: 3 sets of 6-8. Pause on the floor and hold the lockout
  1. Superset 3:
  • Preacher Curl: 2 sets of 12. Flex hard at the top
  • DB Skullcrusher: 2 sets of 12. Go lighter and further behind your head than folks normally do - make this about the stretch and not about hurting your elbows

Or, if you just want to tack something onto the end of a heavier workout, you could do either of the following up to a couple times a week:

Biceps:
This is all one giant set:

  • Preacher Curl (I like the machine)
  • Seated DB Hammer Curl (just turn around and put your back against the preacher pad and start curling)
  • Standing DB Curl (just hang onto those dumbbells and stand up, keep your palms supinated the whole time and don’t get sloppy)
    I’d have 0 desire to do more than 3 rounds of that, which I guess you could count as 9 sets?

Triceps:
Same giant set idea:

  • Pressdown with feet far from the stack and standing straight up
  • Take a step in and get my shoulders over so it’s more “dip-like and keep going
  • Close-grip push-ups with my feet on a bench
  • Close-grip push-ups from the floor
    You could do 2 rounds there for your 8 sets, but it’s not quite as soreness-producing as the biceps one, so I think you do a little more. You can also really polish it off by turning around and doing the push-ups with your hands on the bench at the end.

I think arms do pretty well with fatigue. Calves too, but I hate doing calves so it’s all theory there!

1 Like

Good stuff there, i’ll definitely give that first one a shot this week!

As far as shoulders go, do you go more for compound pressing movements or do you do more isolation work for the side and rear delts?
Also, how do you split up the work on the different heads?
I read on Paul Carters IG that he is not a huge fan of pressing for shoulder hypertrophy, and likes side lateral variations more.

Would also be interesting to get @EyeDentist take on shoulder and arm training, and how to split up the work for the front delts, lateral delts and rear delts.

1 Like

His acerbic style notwithstanding, and with all due respect to my man-crush John Meadows, Paul Carter is the coach I find myself nodding in agreement with the most, and his stance regarding shoulder training for physique enhancement is no exception: Pressing is overrated. Priority should be given to training the rear and lateral heads. Training should focus on time under tension, not poundage.

As for how delt work should be divvied, that depends upon many factors, among them one’s general training parameters (days/week in the gym, etc) and limiting factors (eg, you mentioned shoulder issues). That said, when considering how to program delts, I would point out there’s no compelling reason to limit oneself by having a designated ‘Shoulder day’ on which all three heads are trained. (The front and rear delts can’t even see each other, so there’s no need to force them to work out at the same time.)

As for arms: Big arms just make your delts look smaller. Low priority.

3 Likes

I agree with everything @EyeDentist just said, especially on the coaches, with one HUGE exception:
Big arms are awesome.
You don’t buy the C-Class Cadillac to draw more attention to the hood ornament.

3 Likes