The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    P o S e R kAiXuan's Avatar
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    Upper / Lower Chest Isolation Sheriffs

    This is for all you NON-Isolation freaks or sheriffs.
    I just read some older posts and didnt want to bring the threads back up so I'm just making a new one. Sometimes you guys really jump on the no-isolation bandwagon a little too fast. YES, its true you cant isolate one muscle. BIG DEAL. People post about working upper / lower chest and other dynamic muscles or groups and automatically get flamed or post wasted because you think they are trying to "isolate" even when there is no mention of the word. YES, you can work your lower chest. YES, you can work your upper chest. The key word is EMPHASIZE. Lets try to not jump on people so quick by automatically thinking they are trying to "isolate" a certin muscle.
    Last edited by kAiXuan; 05-01-2004 at 02:56 AM. Reason: worded better
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  3. #2
    WBB OG Silverback's Avatar
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    Nice post, i sometimes think that its an 'easy' option for someone to flame one questioning certain aspects of lifting. I believe that what you describe as EMPHASIZING is a more valid term than isolate and people should take heed.

    At the end of the day though i wouldn't concern myself with intricacies like this, especially at the beginner stage of training. So many miss the forest for the trees and try to carve up when you should be shooting for overall mass if its size your after, this game is about long-term consistency/committment not short-term solutions as many would like to believe.
    The only limits are the one's you place on yourself...

  4. #3
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    Good post. I agree with this. Although you cannot TOTALLY isolate a portion of the chest, you can emphasize one portion more than the other. Think of it this way. Consider an incline press which one could consider to emphasize upper pec. There may be greater tension on the clavicular portion of pec major while the lower/mid portions provide a stabilizing component to movement to allow smooth motion of the humerus. If upper and lower fibers pulled at the same tension, the humerus would horizontally adduct perpendicular to your body (following the vector created by forces at ~90 degrees from one another) and you'd end up with a heavy barbell on your lap (unless of course you have exceptional shoulder strength and scapular stability).
    Last edited by NaturalBuilder; 05-01-2004 at 09:50 PM.

  5. #4
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    can you explain the word emphasize (not the dictionary definition) but in the context you are using it.give me an example (not just inclines emphasize upper chest etc)
    thanks
    the one
    the grass could be greener, and itll always be greener on the other side, but you just never know....this could be the one

  6. #5
    P o S e R kAiXuan's Avatar
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    To emphasize just means to stimulate one area of a muscle greater than another. Isolate would mean to Directly stimulate one area of a muscle.
    -deFenDeRs oF thE unDerRateD

    If it doesnt make dollars, then it doesnt make sense

    I never knew how skinny I was untill I started gaining a little weight

  7. #6
    y0 aidano's Avatar
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    It's more about what you de-emphasize, i.e. you don't emphasize your lower chest so much as de-emphasize you upper chest. There's an important distinction between the two.

    People wonder why I call myself Mr. T. One dude asked, 'does the T stand for tough?' I said no. Another dude asked if the T stands for my last name, Tureaud. No it does not. The 'T' in Mr. T stands for tuna. T loves tuna.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Spartacus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidano
    It's more about what you de-emphasize, i.e. you don't emphasize your lower chest so much as de-emphasize you upper chest. There's an important distinction between the two.
    very good point.

    also, you can only de-emphasize when you doing certain excercises. biceps are a lot harder to change emphasis than delts.

  9. #8
    En botella whey! Max-Mex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kAiXuan
    This is for all you NON-Isolation freaks or sheriffs.
    I just read some older posts and didnt want to bring the threads back up so I'm just making a new one. Sometimes you guys really jump on the no-isolation bandwagon a little too fast. YES, its true you cant isolate one muscle. BIG DEAL. People post about working upper / lower chest and other dynamic muscles or groups and automatically get flamed or post wasted because you think they are trying to "isolate" even when there is no mention of the word. YES, you can work your lower chest. YES, you can work your upper chest. The key word is EMPHASIZE. Lets try to not jump on people so quick by automatically thinking they are trying to "isolate" a certin muscle.
    What's the point in "emphazing" any particular part of the chest if the chest grows as a whole? That's what I want someone to make clear to me.
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  10. #9
    Banned KingJustin's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that you can "emphasize" the upper chest when doing inclines or the lower chest when doing declines, but that it is impossible to "emphasize" the medial head of the triceps and not the lateral head.

    The upper chest (Pectoralis Major, Clavicular) can be "emphasized" seperately from the lower chest (Pectoralis Major, Sternal) the same way that the lower chest can be emphasized seperately from the triceps.

    That's my understanding, mainly because I trust exrx.com.

  11. #10
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    im with max-mex
    the grass could be greener, and itll always be greener on the other side, but you just never know....this could be the one

  12. #11
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    from what i have read on this board excercises like decline bench and pec dec put more stress on your shoulders than they do your chest. but maybe that is due to poor form. chest out shoulders back is what i repeat in my head when doing chest... watcha guys think?

  13. #12
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    You can "emphasize" your upper chest. There is no lower chest. The "upper chest" is the pec minor and is very little when compared to your pec major. Working the upper chest might have some impact on your chest development but as far as people thinking it will greatly help how it looks, it won't. There will be some minute detail changes but as a whole your pec major development will dwarf whatever you do with your upper chest.

    As far as stressing different fibers of a muscle more to get a certain part of it to go, it won't happen. Basically when a muscle contracts it contracts all the fibers at one time. Its an "all or nothing" principle.

    So the point becomes, are you are the point where you need to make small changes to your body to get more proportional? Personally, and this is just my opinion, unless you are at the national level or higher, really trying to do anything with your "upper" chest will be a waste. Get it to go as a whole first to see the best results. Really, the look of the upper/lower/inner/outer will have more to do with genetics than anything else.
    Last edited by WillKuenzel; 05-03-2004 at 04:09 PM.
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  14. #13
    Senior Member bill's Avatar
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    lol i was waiting for you to post HY
    very good points imo.
    P.S. is the same for the back i always understood do bent rows and such for mid back mass and thickness , chins for lat width ???

  15. #14
    No me llames cerdo... EdgarMex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield
    You can "emphasize" your upper chest. There is no lower chest. The "upper chest" is the pec minor and is very little when compared to your pec major. Working the upper chest might have some impact on your chest development but as far as people thinking it will greatly help how it looks, it won't. There will be some minute detail changes but as a whole your pec major development will dwarf whatever you do with your upper chest.

    As far as stressing different fibers of a muscle more to get a certain part of it to go, it won't happen. Basically when a muscle contracts it contracts all the fibers at one time. Its an "all or nothing" principle.

    So the point becomes, are you are the point where you need to make small changes to your body to get more proportional? Personally, and this is just my opinion, unless you are at the national level or higher, really trying to do anything with your "upper" chest will be a waste. Get it to go as a whole first to see the best results. Really, the look of the upper/lower/inner/outer will have more to do with genetics than anything else.
    Newbies should be referred to this post when asking anything about isolating/emphasizing a particular muscle/group
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  16. #15
    P o S e R kAiXuan's Avatar
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    Some great points guys.
    -deFenDeRs oF thE unDerRateD

    If it doesnt make dollars, then it doesnt make sense

    I never knew how skinny I was untill I started gaining a little weight

  17. #16
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bill
    P.S. is the same for the back i always understood do bent rows and such for mid back mass and thickness , chins for lat width ???
    There's a bit more muscles in the back than there are in the chest so there is a bit of merit to that but its along the same lines of the chest, just not quite as extreme. Look at Chase for an example, probably never does chins but has an awesome back.

    I say all this but if you look through my journal, you'll find tons more incline work than you will flat bench. You can also notice that my chest is one of my most seriously weak muscle groups (next to my calves ). In that, you'll also notice that my shoulders are particularly strong. Lots of incline work, lagging chest, strong shoulders, that should tell you something. Of course I'm just one person though but that's my personal experience.

    LOL, despite my personal negative experience with inclines, you'll still see me doing them for some reason.
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  18. #17
    Simplistic
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    I have the same problem with inclines. I have much stronger shoulders. I have recently switched to decilnes and seen a noticable difference in my chest development.

  19. #18
    Still Plugging Away -TIM-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield
    LOL, despite my personal negative experience with inclines, you'll still see me doing them for some reason.
    Yeah, I'm reading your post and before I read what's quoted above I was thinking to myself, why the hell does he keep doing them if he knows it's not working. But you answered it...you're stubborn tuttut
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  20. #19
    mind/body zen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield
    As far as stressing different fibers of a muscle more to get a certain part of it to go, it won't happen. Basically when a muscle contracts it contracts all the fibers at one time. Its an "all or nothing" principle.
    Is that really true, or are you assuming that the pectoralis is really one muscle? The difference in the context by which you are explaining could best be answered by a neurologist or neuro-muscular scientist. If there is only one grouped set of nerve impulses serving the entire pectoralis, then you are probably right. But are there?

    It is easier to illustrate the differences by looking at the deltoids. Most of us divide the deltoids into anterior, posterior, and medial. This is for good reason. Even though it's all called your deltoid, it is functionally responsible for different angles of force around the shoulder joint.

    So I am just asking. Do you know if the entire pectoralis fires on an all-for-one basis?
    Last edited by zen; 05-03-2004 at 09:16 PM.

  21. #20
    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield
    You can "emphasize" your upper chest. There is no lower chest. The "upper chest" is the pec minor and is very little when compared to your pec major. Working the upper chest might have some impact on your chest development but as far as people thinking it will greatly help how it looks, it won't. There will be some minute detail changes but as a whole your pec major development will dwarf whatever you do with your upper chest.

    As far as stressing different fibers of a muscle more to get a certain part of it to go, it won't happen. Basically when a muscle contracts it contracts all the fibers at one time. Its an "all or nothing" principle.

    So the point becomes, are you are the point where you need to make small changes to your body to get more proportional? Personally, and this is just my opinion, unless you are at the national level or higher, really trying to do anything with your "upper" chest will be a waste. Get it to go as a whole first to see the best results. Really, the look of the upper/lower/inner/outer will have more to do with genetics than anything else.
    Extremely good post.
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  22. #21
    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zen
    Is that really true, or are you assuming that the pectoralis is really one muscle? The difference in the context by which you are explaining could best be answered by a neurologist or neuro-muscular scientist. If there is only one grouped set of nerve impulses serving the entire pectoralis, then you are probably right. But are there?

    It is easier to illustrate the differences by looking at the deltoids. Most of us divide the deltoids into anterior, posterior, and medial. This is for good reason. Even though it's all called your deltoid, it is functionally responsible for different angles of force around the shoulder joint.

    So I am just asking. Do you know if the entire pectoralis fires on an all-for-one basis?
    No, the whole muscle doesnt fire at once or not at all, it's based on motor units. But the difference in motor unit firing has a lot more to do with the strength of the stimulus and the duration of the activity than with the placement of the tension.

    Comparing the deltoid to the pec major is apples to oranges. The anterior and posterior deltoid have completely different fiber orientation and different functions, the pec major does not.
    Last edited by smalls; 05-03-2004 at 10:33 PM.
    Diet is key, the calorie is king

    "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
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    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
    Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination
    alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
    Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
    30th U.S. President

    "If you want to look abnormal you have to eat abnormal,lol."--ST

  23. #22
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zen
    Is that really true, or are you assuming that the pectoralis is really one muscle? The difference in the context by which you are explaining could best be answered by a neurologist or neuro-muscular scientist. If there is only one grouped set of nerve impulses serving the entire pectoralis, then you are probably right. But are there?
    No. I doubt there is only one motor unit for the entire chest, or at least the sternal head of the pectarolis major that we are talking about.

    You do have the clavicular head (shown here) that some might mistake for the upper chest. Again though, this is impossible to isolate. Incline work can emphasize this but it won't directly hit it, and its impact on the shape of the chest will be next to nil.

    You then have the sternal head (shown here). This is the major muscle of the chest and the one that everybody wants to split up into groups (upper/inner/outer/lower/whatever). The fibers run horizontally so basically you know that there will be no inner or outer to this. If a fiber is triggered to fire by the motor unit, its an all or nothing response. The whole fiber fires with the same intensity.

    Motor units control a specific amount of muscle fibers. That number is determined by genetics so it varies from person to person. For the quad, there is an estimate of around 30-40 fibers controlled by one motor unit. The eyeball has a motor unit for each muscle fiber. In saying that, basically we don't know how many fibers or motor units are in the chest.

    Lets look at the chest in 3 segments just for peace of mind. Segments 1-3 divided equally running horizontally across the chest breaking the chest into upper, middle, and lower categories. Lets say you want to hit area 1. You'll do incline work. Well in doing incline work, do you think that only area 1 is going to contract? No, areas 2 and 3 will as well. Now for even simpler view, for the time being think of the chest as a door. It has 3 hinges. If you pull on the upper portion of the door, yes that hinge might recieve a bit more stress but will the door not close? The other hinges have to move as well.

    Through that, since they all will contract (to a certain extent), then what will build the most muscle? 135lbs incline or a 225lbs flat bench?


    I'm not going to say for certain that by emphasizing certain angles you won't get results in one particular area but what I am saying is that if you think that through minimal changes in aesthitics you'll get the look you want (which, its damn hard to change genetics), or by making the most maximal gains to an overall area, do you think you'll see the best results?

    Personally I feel the main purpose of the chest is just to pull the shoulders forward (or toward the center of the body) anyway, and exrx.net can back that up. You could be armless and still build a big chest if you can find a way to shrug enough weight forward. Angles won't change that. If you look, the chest is basically done and out of the equation just a couple inches off the chest in the bench press. The lockout is triceps. The angles towards whichever direction you push are directed by the shoulders or the serratus.
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  24. #23
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    Good thread. One point to offer. Most incline work is at too severe an angle.
    More delt work than chest, especially past 40* incline. To be the most effective, a slight incline, or even a flat bench with a 2x4 under it for angle is the highest you have to go to focus on the chest and not shoulders.
    Great point on the advanced stuff. I personally have very strong pec development and do more incline work to tie in chest, delt, trap area for aesthetics.

  25. #24
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    even if a greater incline MAY emphasis the upper part of the chest. you have to remeber the delts are in a weaker postion so they may give up earlier, thus resulting in the upper area of the chest not working as hard, relative to if you did flat bench press.
    whats the point of having greater emphasis if you do less work? the upper area will grew less as result.
    my exprience - joined gym 10 years ago, 6 1/2 years hard weight training exprience.

  26. #25
    Senior Member bill's Avatar
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    Thanks HY about the back question. Its good to see some very knowing people here.

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