Every veteran lifter knows a great workout or two for building pecs. They know that if you switch the same exercises from flat to incline benches, you'll get a great upper chest workout, and that if you move them to decline benches, you'll get a sensational lower-pec workout. But what should you do when you want some solid training advice for building up your inner-pec region?
Not a lot of lifters focus on this area, which is a bit of a mystery. I mean, who wouldn't want to give their chest some real eye-popping dimensionality? One way to do that is to thicken up the pecs right where they run up against your sternum.
Here are two great ways to give this neglected portion of your chest some love.
1. Use a Closer Grip on Barbell Presses
The close-grip bench press is a common triceps exercise. And, since it's a multijoint exercise, it also works the shoulders and chest. Thanks to the closer grip, this press shifts a lot of the pectoral emphasis to the inner-pec region. Even though the movement's range of motion covers a lot of ground and puts a greater portion of the load on the triceps, the close-grip hand position is still one of the best ways to re-focus the training emphasis to your inner pecs.
That's true even when you do these presses in different positions. Decline and incline close-grip benches can move the area of maximum stimulation to hit, respectively, the lower and upper parts of your inner pecs. By using an adjustable bench on a Smith machine, you can even shift the emphasis to some of the in-between areas of your chest. Simply set the bench to some of those intermediate angles you don't normally use.
2. Emphasize the Peak Contracted Position on Your Cable Flyes
With single-joint crossovers and flyes, including those done on the pec deck machine, where you train in the movement arc can make a big difference. When your hands are far apart, you put more emphasis on the outer pecs, and when they're closer together, you hit the inner pecs. In general, movements that emphasize peak contraction do a better job of accelerating inner-pec development. But it does depend on how you do the exercises.
Namely, holding and flexing your pecs in the peak contracted position on every set works incredibly well with cable crossovers and flyes, as well as on the pec deck machine. Try the single-joint variation with dumbbells, however, and you actually lose tension on your pecs at the top.
Whatever pec exercise you're doing, try the "one and a half" technique on cable and machine flyes. It's a good way to add to inner-pec development. With this technique, you alternate full-range reps with partial reps done over the top of the range of motion—one of each of these movement counts as a single rep.
Another one that doesn't work with dumbbells is dedicated partial-rep training, in which you allow your hands to separate no more than about 18 inches. (See all three of these techniques combined in a single finishing move.)
Both using a closer grip and emphasizing the top half of the range of motion require you to adjust how you perform common chest movements. If you want to start seeing those tectonic cliffs and valleys on your chest, learn how to insert these techniques into your regular workouts every now and then. For faster progress, make them an integral part of your workout for 4-6 weeks straight.