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Pec Striations


My pecs are thick from heavy bench presses and dips, but I don’t have any striations. Yet I’ve done hundreds of sets of crossovers over the last year or so. What’s wrong?

You could do thousands of sets of crossovers over many years and still see no striations in your pecs. Alternatively, you could no crossovers whatsoever yet still see striations. (Similarly, you could do countless sets of crunches yet never see your abs.) The key issue is your bodyfat percentage. No matter how large your pecs are, and no matter how many crossovers you do, if your bodyfat percentage is too high you will never see your pec striations. (Similarly, no matter how much ab work you do, if you have too much fat over your abs you will never see your six pack.)

If you want your pec striations to be visible, gradually reduce your bodyfat percentage to under 10% – sufficiently under to produce the required visibility.

Also don’t do crossovers thinking that they will build big pecs. They may help you to build some additional detail in your pecs, which you would see only if you are very lean, but they won’t build a lot of muscle, at least not if you are a typical, natural bodybuilder.

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One-Arm Low (Or High) Cable Crossover


One-Arm Cable Crossover

Targets:
Pecs, with emphasis on the upper and middle chest fibres.

Best In Workout:
You can use this move as a pre-exhaust exercise preceding the compound presses necessary for mass, or you can put this last in your workout to flush and pump the muscle full of water, blood and nutrients.

Sets & Reps:
Perform 3-4 sets with 15-20 reps

D-Handle:
Grasp a D-handle attached to the low cable and place your non-working hand on the same-side hip. Similar to the single-arm overhead press, using only one side of the body will help engage and recruit more stabiliser activity than you typically experience. As your core fatigues, you can hold the opposite handle in the non-working hand, helping you anchor and balance yourself.

Stance:
Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and tighten your abs. Standing halfway between the two low cables with a wide stance provides a stable foundation.

Slight Bend:
Stand up straight and keep your working arm slightly bent. You should work to keep that slight bend in your elbow fixed throughout the entire set. Doing so will help focus the attention on the chest fibres. If you open and close the bend in your arm, you will lessen the effectiveness and shift some of the focus off the chest and onto your arm.

Range Of Motion:
Pull the handle up and across your body. Bring the handle all the way across so that at the end of the range of motion, the handle is in front if the opposite shoulder. During the typical cable crossover, the handles meet in front of your chest or face, but working one side at a time allows you to cross your body, engaging more pec fibres for a longer ROM before returning to the start position and repeating.


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Angle Pairings for Optimal Pre-exhaustion


Here is a list of the bodyparts and the first (isolation move) and second exercise (compound move).

Legs – Leg extension and Squat
Lying Leg Curl and Leg Press
Back – Decline Pullover and Close-grip Pulldown
Shoulders – Cable Lateral Raise and Overhead Press
Triceps – Pressdown and Bench Dip
Chest – Cable Crossover and Decline Bench Press
Biceps – Dumbbell Curl and Chin-up (underhand grip)

The biceps is generally not thought to have a compound exercise, although the chin-up is as close to being a multi-joint movement for the biceps as possible.

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/pre-exhaust-training/


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Pre-exhaust Training


The simplest way to describe pre-exhaust training is that it is a method using isolation (also called single-joint) exercises to target a particular muscle group before moving to compound (multi-joint) movements for the same muscle. The objective of the technique is to get the target muscle fatigued as possible before subjecting it to multi-joint exercises. Take the chest for example. Before hitting your bench presses, a pre-exhaust exercise would be the flat-bench dumbbell fly or even the cable crossover or pec-deck machine.

During the flye, only the pectorals are involved in performing the movement. When the chest is fatigued, you move to the bench press, where the pecs gain assistance from the shoulders and triceps. During a typical bench press the chest gets help from the delts and the tricpes, that that assistance limits the amount of fatigue it can achieve. Since the triceps and delts are much weaker than the chest, the bench press always ends because the triceps or delts fatigue, not because of the exhaustion of the chest-muscle fibres.

For that reason the pre-exhaust method is used to break down the target musculature before adding in the help of other assisting muscle groups. In the bench press example the triceps and delts are fresh so they will not be subject to such quick fatigue (as are the already worked pectoral fibres) which further compound the exhaustion of the pecs. The ultimate goal is that once the triceps and delts are fatigued, so too is the chest. All three bodyparts involved in this exercise are completely worn out and used up. That is the basic premise of pre-exhaust.

In a normal workout you do the isolation movements at the end of your training session after the multi-joint exercises. However, reversing the scheme to target the muscle fibres in this way is a phenomenon only the pre-exhaust method can duplicate. In the normal routine, with the isolation exercises coming last, you do not know for sure if the target muscle is completely fatigued simply by using the isolation movement as your litmus test. The pre-exhaust method is a surefire way to to know the job is done because you will have completely failed and fatigued at both the compound and isolation exercises after removing the assistance muscles form the equation.

A lot of reasons why athletes tend to stay away from pre-exhaust is that it obviously limits the amount of weight you can lift on the compound exercises because you are not doing them first when your energy levels are at their highest. This can be a mental hurdle to overcome. Physically, you will probably break down the muscle better with the pre-exhaust method than ever before, despite the fact that you are using less weight on the subsequent compound exercises. Because you are going lighter on the multi-joint movements, you are actually extending the life of your elbow, shoulder, hip and knee joints.

Angles come into play during pre-exhaust training as they do in regular training. To pre-exhaust your chest before doing heavy incline bench presses, you would not use the decline flye as your pre-exhaust exercise. You would use an incline flye. You want to mimic, within reason, the angle for both exercises simply because you are recruiting the same fibres, not different ones. For chest exercises, pre-exhaust is relatively easy, but it is not so easy on other bodyparts such as back. In the end the main characteristic is fatigue of the target muscle, with exercise angles being secondary in importance.

Perfecting Pre-exhaust
Here is a brief tip sheet to get you started on using pre-exhaust, an advanced technique that can help deliver serious muscle growth.
– Try the pre-exhaust method for each bodypart for about four weeks before going back to your standard routine.
– Your rest periods between the isolation exercise and the compound movement are normal. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. This is not a superset in which you want to rest as little as possible.
– Though you are starting with the isolation exercise you will still want to perform a few warm-up sets. When you get to your working weight, you will be able to lift slightly heavier than you normally could because you have not done any presses to fatigue the muscle. Choose a weight with which you can do 10 reps to failure. The set also serves as a warm-up for the compound exercise to follow. You may need only 1-2 warm-up sets to get ready for your working weight. Remember, the weight you are able to lift when following a pre-exhaust movement will be substantially less.
– In your pre-exhaust routine do 3-4 sets of the isolation exercise (excluding warm-ups) with the same number of sets for the compound movement that follows. After you have performed the pre-exhaust method, you can complete your routine in straight-set fashion on your favourite exercises for that muscle group. Many athletes actually repeat the method with other exercises and angles throughout the routine, but be careful not to overtrain.


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Cable Crossover


cable crossover

The cable crossover is a great exercise geared towards muscle contraction and sculpting the pecs.

1) To get yourself in the starting position, place the pulleys on a high position (above your head), select the resistance to be used and hold the pulleys in each hand.
2) Step forward in front of an imaginary straight line between both pulleys while pulling your arms together in front of you. Your torso should have a small forward bend from the waist. This will be your starting position.
3) With a slight bend on your elbows in order to prevent stress at the biceps tend, extend your arms to the side (straight out at both sides) in a wide arc until your feel a stretch on your chest. Breathe in as you perform this portion of the movement.
Tip: Keep in mind that throughout the movement, the arms and torso should remain stationary, the movement should only occur at the shoulder joint.
4) Return your arms back to the starting position as you breathe out. Make sure to use the same arc of motion used to lower the weights.
5) Hold for a second at the starting position and repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.