T Nation

Why Train Pecs for Strength?

[quote]Gatorarmz wrote:
Pecs dont push anything fucking thing people. They assist in breathing an in pulling you humorus bone forward like a crane. The muscles responsibe for pushing things are mainly the triceps, shoulders. The pecs help stabilize your shoulder girdle when bearing loads. They also assist in pull ups and pull downs too. What do you men by pec work anyway. Pec work alone would be shit like fly’s and crossovers. Benching is upper body work not pec work.[/quote]

Woah, I don’t know where you are getting your kinesiology information, but stop going there. The pectoralis major inserts into the humerus bones and it’s major muscular action is horizontal shoulder flexion (which occurs during pushing movements).

They are not the primary shoulder stabilizers while bearing heavy loads, that falls to the “S.I.T.S” muscles. The pectoralis minor does perform shoulder girdle protraction, but that is not the muscle in question.

Also, while the pecs may assist in pull-down exercises (depending on the exercise/line of pull, etc…) they are not a prime mover in these exercises.

And yes, flys, cross overs, and pec decks all work the chest, but so do bench presses (especially dumbell variations from my experience).

Good training,

Sentoguy

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
John S. wrote:
How about the fact that when you do a upper body pushing movement(like punching) your chest is one of the main factors. and besides you don’t want strength imbalances.

Most of your power for punching comes from the hips.[/quote]

Depends on how you punch. A short range punch or a straight one like those taught in Wing Chun would be helped by a lot of pec and triceps power (even if technique is probably a lot more important in this case). And even a hook punch, the arm is coming accross the body. Heavyweight boxers seem to have pretty decent chest size.

Fact is, look at guys in strongman - which seems to be all about functional strength - they all have big chests. And biceps for that matter.

Frankly I’m sick of the ‘such and such a bodypart isnt important for functional strength’ debate. Every skeletal muscle group is ‘functional’ or you wouldn’t have it.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

Woah, I don’t know where you are getting your kinesiology information, but stop going there. The pectoralis major inserts into the humerus bones and it’s major muscular action is horizontal shoulder flexion (which occurs during pushing movements).

They are not the primary shoulder stabilizers while bearing heavy loads, that falls to the “S.I.T.S” muscles. The pectoralis minor does perform shoulder girdle protraction, but that is not the muscle in question.

Also, while the pecs may assist in pull-down exercises (depending on the exercise/line of pull, etc…) they are not a prime mover in these exercises.

And yes, flys, cross overs, and pec decks all work the chest, but so do bench presses (especially dumbell variations from my experience).

Good training,

Sentoguy[/quote]

Thank you Doctor, You must enjoy making money from all the pec tears you repair. Benching properly should not hit the pecs directly at all. The pecs will have to assist in the lift, but my point was is benching is not a “pec exercise” alone. I say again it is an upper body exercise. If your using perfect proper form the elbows should be tucked in a way that the pecs are protected by the triceps, rotator cuff, and back muscles from any trauma while benching. I would love to take you threw a bench workout and see how long you pecs can handle before you get the mysterious twinge in your tie ins. Elbows tucked means triceps. Kinesiology…

[quote]sumabeast wrote:
besides pec hypertrophy for bbing, and big bench for pwerlifting, why should we train the pecs for strength?
[/quote]

so they get stronger

[quote]Gatorarmz wrote:
Sentoguy wrote:

Thank you Doctor, You must enjoy making money from all the pec tears you repair. Benching properly should not hit the pecs directly at all. The pecs will have to assist in the lift, but my point was is benching is not a “pec exercise” alone. I say again it is an upper body exercise. If your using perfect proper form the elbows should be tucked in a way that the pecs are protected by the triceps, rotator cuff, and back muscles from any trauma while benching. I would love to take you threw a bench workout and see how long you pecs can handle before you get the mysterious twinge in your tie ins. Elbows tucked means triceps. Kinesiology…
[/quote]

My my, aren’t we touchy.

I never said that bench presses worked “only” the pecs. They are a compound movement and therefore more than one muscle group is involved.

Yes, the triceps and anterior deltoids are involved as well, I never said they weren’t. As long as there is elbow extension, and horizontal shoulder flexion, the triceps, anterior deltoids, and pectoralis major muscles must all come into play.

Benching properly? In what context? Using which variation of bench press? Close grip benches are primarily tricep dominant. Dumbell benches involve much more pecs (as I stated before). Benches to the neck are also primarily a pec exercise. My point is that there are many variations of the exercise, and the term “proper form” is relative.

Also, you don’t need to resort to making childish threats or assumptions that I don’t know what I’m doing as far as benching goes. Or that I have ever caused anyone to tear their pecs from the way I have instructed them to bench. And I have been through plenty of chest workouts, done bench pressing, felt it in my pecs and never felt a “mysterious twinge”.

Good training,

Sentoguy

Also, you don’t need to resort to making childish threats or assumptions that I don’t know what I’m doing as far as benching goes. Or that I have ever caused anyone to tear their pecs from the way I have instructed them to bench. And I have been through plenty of chest workouts, done bench pressing, felt it in my pecs and never felt a “mysterious twinge”.

Good training,

Sentoguy

I’m sorry if I made you feel threatened. You made fun of my kinesiology theory. The main difference between our mindsets is that you said “chest workout”. I am a pwoerlifter. So I do bench Training. Forgive me if I’ve wandered so far from bodybuilding to argue w/ bodybuilders. Carry on gentlemen.

[quote]Gatorarmz wrote:

I’m sorry if I made you feel threatened.
[/quote]

Woah, now let’s not get ahead of ourselves. LOL. just messin with ya.

[quote]
You made fun of my kinesiology theory. The main difference between our mindsets is that you said “chest workout”. I am a pwoerlifter. So I do bench Training. Forgive me if I’ve wandered so far from bodybuilding to argue w/ bodybuilders. Carry on gentlemen.[/quote]

Hey man, I wasn’t trying to make fun of you, it’s just that your comment about the pecs not being a prime mover in bench pressing isn’t necessarily true. The pecs are involved in nearly every (if not every) variation of bench pressing (obviously to varying degrees).

Also, I’ve got a lot of respect for you powerlifters, you guys are some strong dudes. But, would you argue that having bigger stronger pecs doesn’t help in bench pressing?

After all, it’s really not debatable that a muscle’s ability to generate force is correlated to it’s cross sectional area. Therefore, training to improve pec cross sectional area (bodybuilding training) would be beneficial towards improving strength in the bench.

Good training,

Sentoguy

Now that I see we a have similar sense of humor, let’s roll. I completely agree w/ you that bigger pecs will help generate more force under the bar. I really hven’t disagreed w/ you at all thus far. The thing is the guy asked about benching as a pec exercise. I don’t believe benching is a good pec exercise, but a strength exercise.

Now I do completely agree w/ you on the dumbell movements for the pecs due to the more natural motion used w/ dumbells which allows the pecs to be more involved in the movement. I just hate to see guys write off benching because their pecs aren’t getting bigger. Some people want results now, like a drive through workout w/ a #2 combo w/ cheese, if you get me.

Guys need to have more faith in bench work. I haven’t done fly’s in a few years, but I know they work to get bigger pecs. I just bothers me when we forget the reason for lifting in the first place. We all want to enhance our performance as humans right? BB’ing has gotten so clouded w/ vanity that I just don’t know what to say to these guys anymore. The basic compound joint exercises are a must for size as well as strength, not appearance.

Our appearance is guided by and I hate to say this, but genetics. I will never look like Ronnie Jackson or those guys but we do alot of the same exercises during the year. I think you understand me, so I’m gonna shut up now.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Gatorarmz wrote:

Also, I’ve got a lot of respect for you powerlifters, you guys are some strong dudes. But, would you argue that having bigger stronger pecs doesn’t help in bench pressing?

[/quote]

If it didn’t, how would it happen that powerlifters blow a pec sometimes when benching?

I have to chime in on the punching thing. The statements made so far show how much martial artists have stayed with the myths and really need to look at a MA as an athlete.

Most of the power of a punch does not come from the hips. To say so shows a lack of knowledge concerning bio mechanics. The muscles that turn the hips in a punch cannot and do not generate much force or movement. Power is force multiplied by acceleration. When throwing a punch the hips don’t generate much force and they don’t move that much. What is moving very fast is the fist.

What drives that fist is the wrist pronators, elbow extensors, shoulder abductors and flexors, and yes the almighty hips. Ask yourself which joint moves the most? It is a worthy question, because all of these joints move at the same time. The answer is two joints, the elbow and the shoulder. Everything else is either stabilizing the force or adding what it can, but don’t forget that the triceps and shoulders generate the most force.

My point is that ALL of the muscles are involved, but shoulder flexion and adduction, coupled with elbow extension are king here, not hip rotation.

The myth that the hips generate most of the power comes from the need for coaching cues. We punch from the floor and need to be stable from the toes and up. If we were relaxed at the hips and just used the upper body we would only be able to use a small fraction of the potential force. Like the quote goes, “you cannot shoot a canon from a canoe”. Plus, with hip rotation you get more range of motion and the final punch ends up being in a more stable position. I.e. arm horizontally abducted somewhat… back to the coaching cues.

To cue a MA it helps to have them focus on the hips and it is easy to do so by saying that that is where the power comes from. How would it go if you said that the hips need to be active to add to, but primarily stabilize your power?

If anyone here doesn’t believe me, try isolating hip rotation. Go to a cable machine and set up a D Handle at hip height. Grab the handle with your left hand. Anchor your hand to your right hip and turn to your left and face away from the stack. You should end up with your left hand across your body and griping the handle to hold it against your right hip bone. Now do some rotations. How much weight can you use? Really not much huh?

How much weight can you incline bench press though? A lot more, huh? How about if you train one armed Db incline press? Less now because you need to stabilize through the waist, but still a lot more than you can do on the hip rotations.

As for the OP (sorry for the highjack), as some alluded to already, ask yourself, if you have them, how could there not be a purpose? Plus, the overhead stuff is over rated. For one only around a third of the population can overhead press without some negative consequences. Two, I think it was on DeFranco’s site that he addressed this with football players. If you look at dozens of pictures of players making contact and pushing their opponents, their arms are surprisingly close to perpendicular from their spines. We end up pushing with a more vertical spine more often than what would be intuitive.

Roland

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
Sentoguy wrote:
Gatorarmz wrote:

Also, I’ve got a lot of respect for you powerlifters, you guys are some strong dudes. But, would you argue that having bigger stronger pecs doesn’t help in bench pressing?

If it didn’t, how would it happen that powerlifters blow a pec sometimes when benching?[/quote]

Intuitively that makes sense, but remember that it is usually the stronger muscle that has been compensating for a weakness somewhere else that blows.

[quote]bigjoey wrote:
sharetrader wrote:
John S. wrote:
How about the fact that when you do a upper body pushing movement(like punching) your chest is one of the main factors. and besides you don’t want strength imbalances.

Most of your power for punching comes from the hips.

Depends on how you punch.[/quote]

This is true. If you have awful technique and hit like a sissy, sure, you won’t use your legs, hips and back. If you punch correctly, you’re not going to punch from your chest.

Seriously, who does those wing chun punches anymore? That’s so fucking 80s.

Sure. But, like any other punch, it starts from the legs/hips. If you’re throwing hooks using just chest you don’t know how to throw a hook.

No they don’t in fact. Look at Ali, smallish pecs. Tyson, smallish pecs. Joe Lewis, Lennox Lewis, Marciano, Hollyfield, Frazier, Foreman…I could go down the line of top heavyweights historically and none of them has large pecs by bodybuilding standards.

They have big chests because they’re big guys. Again, from a bodybuilding perspective, I don’t think very many of the top strongmen have huge pecs. I rarely see a guy in one of those competitons and think he has a huge chest, while I am routinely impressed at the size on their arms and backs.

Sure, every bodypart is important, it’d be foolish to argue otherwise. But it is possible that various athletes don’t emphasize pec-specific movements such that they get significant hypertrophy in their chest. That isn’t to say they can’t bench a lot or that they have no muscle there at all. But clearly a bodybuilder is going to hit the chest a lot more than a boxer, or a strongman, or a number of other athletes. Bodybuilders want size and symmetry (I imagine that most of us want those two things as well). A boxer just doesn’t have time to spend on building big pecs–if bigger pecs helped, boxers would spend more time on the bench and less at the bag.

That different groups of people train different muscles in different ways doesn’t mean one ought to ignore a muscle group completely–it simply means that for certain athletic activities their might be diminishing returns past a certain amount of hypertrophy for certain muscle groups.

[quote]Gatorarmz wrote:
Now that I see we a have similar sense of humor, let’s roll. I completely agree w/ you that bigger pecs will help generate more force under the bar. I really hven’t disagreed w/ you at all thus far. The thing is the guy asked about benching as a pec exercise. I don’t believe benching is a good pec exercise, but a strength exercise.
[/quote]

Right on. as far as benching being a good pec exercise, I think it depends on the individual and of course the method of benching (hand spacing). Let’s face it some people are just naturally pec dominant benchers (many of course are not). Also, a wide hand spacing brings the pecs into the movement a lot more.

Of course, yeah I understand that from a powerlifting standpoint, one cares only with how much weight one can lift, and therefore there is a specific technique to benching to both maximize power and minimize chance of injury.

LOL. I get ya man.

Well, while I certainly am not going to argue you about the importance of performance, many people lift purely for aesthetic reasons. And yes, I completely agree that basic compound movements are a must for size and strength (and hey, they don’t hurt as far as appearance goes either).

[quote]
Our appearance is guided by and I hate to say this, but genetics. I will never look like Ronnie Jackson or those guys but we do alot of the same exercises during the year. I think you understand me, so I’m gonna shut up now.[/quote]

You are right of course, we all have our genetic ceiling and many of us certainly don’t have the genetic make up to win a Mr. Olympia contest. But, then again, many of us don’t have the genetic predisposition to bench press 900 lbs or squat 1,000+ lbs either.

And yeah, I think we understand each other just fine.

Good training,

Sentoguy

[quote]Roland Fisher wrote:
Most of the power of a punch does not come from the hips. To say so shows a lack of knowledge concerning bio mechanics. The muscles that turn the hips in a punch cannot and do not generate much force or movement. [/quote]

Sure, but try to generate any force without using your legs or hips.

And force=mass x acceleration. Very little body mass is in the arms. If you punch with the whole body, you have a larger mass accelerating quickly. Then you generate more force.

This is why those cute little wing chun punches don’t actually work in professional boxing–or why you don’t knock anyone out with a jab. You can flick the arm (small mass) forward really fast, but it won’t have any power. Crosses, hooks and uppercuts must utilize the entire body.

Ok. Try to immobilize your hips and then throw a cross. You’ll have zero power behind it. No hips, no power in your cross.

Ok, you can punch from your shoulder and elbow. No legs, no hips, no power. I’ve never seen any pro boxer throw stiff legged, stiff hipped punches.

Again, find me a boxer that punches solely from the shoulders in a cross or hook–no switching weight on the legs, no hip rotation.

It isn’t all from the hips. Legs, hips, back, shoulders, arms. Its the whole body. But no hips, no power.

Bingo. The hips have to move.

Because you need to turn your fucking hips to throw a goddamned cross, hook or uppercut.

And like I said, don’t believe me, go to a heavy bag, have someone hold your legs and another guy hold your hips and another guy bear hug you and then try punching with only your arms and shoulders. How much power can you generate?

This is irrelevant though. You can’t generate much force or power incline benching because you probably can’t push the weight up very fast. Whereas I could generate more force and more power snatching or cleaning, which, like punching, utilize most of the body. Except the pecs.

This is tripe. 2 out of 3 people will have negative consequences from overhead pressing? Okie dokie.

That’s football. And specifically offensive linemen, defensive linemen, and linebackers. Other positions don’t need to essentially do standing bench presses against 300 lb guys bearing down on them (at least not on every down). Boxing doesn’t involve a lot of digging your feet in and pushing against another guy who is pushing you. Except for trying to break a clinch, and the ref usually does that anyway.

But whatever. You go ahead punching from your shoulder and arms alone and I’ll use my whole body.

In regards to the punching debate, from what I was taught the power behind a punch comes primarily from the body mass moving into the target, not from the hips (or course the hips must be aligned properly, hence their rotation), nor from the arm/shoulder/chest (although the arm does add speed/acceleration to the movement, which adds power).

The only thing that we can push against in order to generate force is the ground. Therefore, the power needs to come up through the legs, through the hips, across the back, down the arm, and through the fist into the target.

Try this experiment for example. Stand at arms length from a punching bag. Now only moving the arm punch the bag as hard as you can. Try it a couple of times to make sure that you can hit the bag squarely and note how far the bag moves.

Next, take a step backwards. Now extend the arm as if you had just fully extended a punch and keeping this position step the bag as hard as you can. Try it a couple of times to make sure that you hit the bag squarely and note how far it moved.

Also, make sure that your lead foot is not hitting the ground before your fist hits the bag or the force of the step will go into the ground rather than the bag. Ideally the fist and foot should land at exactly the same time (or at least the fist should land first).

Chances are, if you have any kind of knowledge of punching structure the bag moved significantly more when you stepped into it than when you just hit it with your arm.

Good training,

Sentoguy

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
In regards to the punching debate, from what I was taught the power behind a punch comes primarily from the body mass moving into the target, not from the hips (or course the hips must be aligned properly, hence their rotation), nor from the arm/shoulder/chest (although the arm does add speed/acceleration to the movement, which adds power).

The only thing that we can push against in order to generate force is the ground. Therefore, the power needs to come up through the legs, through the hips, across the back, down the arm, and through the fist into the target.

Try this experiment for example. Stand at arms length from a punching bag. Now only moving the arm punch the bag as hard as you can. Try it a couple of times to make sure that you can hit the bag squarely and note how far the bag moves.

Next, take a step backwards. Now extend the arm as if you had just fully extended a punch and keeping this position step the bag as hard as you can. Try it a couple of times to make sure that you hit the bag squarely and note how far it moved.

Also, make sure that your lead foot is not hitting the ground before your fist hits the bag or the force of the step will go into the ground rather than the bag. Ideally the fist and foot should land at exactly the same time (or at least the fist should land first).

Chances are, if you have any kind of knowledge of punching structure the bag moved significantly more when you stepped into it than when you just hit it with your arm.

Good training,

Sentoguy[/quote]

But this may be because you are pushing the bag. Just like explosives; there are different kinds of punches.

Explosives like dynamite are slow and push, C-4 is fast and cut or shatter. I am not arguing that you are wrong. Force is produced from pushing off of the ground – but this force is best when delivered quickly.

When delivered quickly you get face bones that break and an opponent that drops, instead of an opponent that is pushed away only to come back again.

so they get big and then people will ask you how much you bench? and you can tell them a grossly inflated figure and enjoy the glow from how impressed they are!

seriously, for cosmetic balance! no acually overall muscle balance, which equals strength and health.

The muscles are limited by the strength of their antagonist muscles, so by balancing them it makes the limb/body stronger and less injury prone as a unit.

[quote]mmllcc wrote:

But this may be because you are pushing the bag. Just like explosives; there are different kinds of punches.

Explosives like dynamite are slow and push, C-4 is fast and cut or shatter. I am not arguing that you are wrong. Force is produced from pushing off of the ground – but this force is best when delivered quickly.

When delivered quickly you get face bones that break and an opponent that drops, instead of an opponent that is pushed away only to come back again.[/quote]

Well, I wasn’t trying to illustrate where the acceleration (speed) comes from in a punch. I was trying to illustrate where the mass comes from in a punch. You can have as much speed as you want, but without mass behind it your punch isn’t going to have much in the way of power.

The speed obviously comes from the acceleration of the fist itself, the rotation of the hips and the explosiveness of the footwork. Also, if you hit the bag at the same time as your lead foot lands, I think you’d be surprised at how impact you can generate.

Of course, I didn’t go into the next step which would be to step into the bag while at the same time throwing the punch, which would by the way produce the most amount of impact.

Of course, this does take some practice because you have to time the impact of the punch with the shift in bodyweight, and make sure that your structure is correctly aligned at impact so that all of your force goes into the bag/target.

Good training,

Sentoguy

rg73, you either didn’t read or you didn’t understand anything I wrote.

[quote]Roland Fisher wrote:
rg73, you either didn’t read or you didn’t understand anything I wrote.[/quote]

I your post and his post and came to this same conclusion.