- "A Scientific Analysis of Popular Chest Exercises"
- "The Necessity of Rest & Recovery"
- "Safe Technique for Leg Exercises"
- "Nutrition Calorie Counter"



Variations of the barbell or dumbbell chest press increase strength and mass for different areas of the chest ("pec's"). Exercises are often prescribed based on the belief that they train the upper, middle, or lower "pec's" to a greater degree, but how valid are these categories, and how effective are these exercises?


In a recent research study, scientists investigated the muscle activity of the sternoclavicular head of the pectoralis major (lower and mid-chest), clavicular head of the pectoralis major (upper-chest), anterior deltoid, triceps, and latissimus dorsi (back) muscles in 4 common exercises. The flat, incline (40 degrees), and decline bench presses, and the vertical (shoulder) press were tested using both wide and narrow grips. Let's look at how each of these muscles responded and determine the most effective training strategy.


Pectoralis major (sternoclavicular head)

* Greatest muscle activity occurred during the wide-grip flat bench press    

* Lowest activity occurred in the vertical press

* Both the incline and decline presses resulted in only moderate muscle activity


Pectoralis major (clavicular head)

* This area is commonly referred to as the "upper chest" and is traditionally believed as trained most effectively with incline press variations

* However, researchers found that the incline press did NOT result in greater activation than the flat press

* The decline and vertical presses resulted in low muscle activity 


Anterior deltoid

* The vertical press resulted in the greatest activation, although the incline press was almost as productive

* The angle of the incline must be considered (40 degrees in this study), as anterior deltoid activation will increase with a more vertical position

* The flat & decline presses resulted in 50% less activation than the vertical press



* The flat bench provided the greatest muscle activation

* The incline and vertical presses resulted in 50% less activation

* Muscle activation increased with a narrow grip in all exercises


Latissimus Dorsi

* Very little muscle activation in any of the pressing exercises


For programs designed to train a muscle group with only a single exercise, the best pectoralis training stimulus is provided with the flat barbell or dumbbell press. All other exercises may be considered supplementary to this. In fact, there seems to be very little evidence supporting the use of the decline press. However, if you have ever done this exercise you know there is some training effect, so it can not be deemed worthless.


For programs aiming to train a number of muscle groups with the minimal number of exercises (low volume), the incline bench press may be most beneficial as it stresses the pectoralis major (clavicular head), anterior deltoid, and the triceps simultaneously.



Rest is as important as hard training and proper nutrition. It is during recovery that improvement (the training effect) occurs. Many individuals overtrain and expect gains, when an increase in recovery is necessary. The increase in rest allows for higher quality training sessions. For anyone that trains very intensely but is at a training plateau, consider increasing your rest instead of your training.


Remember, "more is not always better, better is better". Quality rest includes both adequate sleep and total rest days, where no training is undertaken. Continually exercising without sufficient rest days can deplete muscle energy stores and cause exhaustion. The resulting fatigue may decrease performance, contribute to illness, or cause an overall feeling of daily tiredness.


Rest can also be applied by the inclusion of a week of low-volume, low-intensity training following 4-6 weeks of regular training. This week can also include the performance of different activities. Get out of the gym or put away your running shoes and try something new. Go snowboarding, play squash or try any new sport, or go for a hike.


A week of "active" rest is certainly recommended for athletes prior to the beginning of the season or just prior to a major competition. This will ensure they are well rested, injury-free, and fully prepared for maximum performance. Include daily stretching in your program as it may prevent injury and aid rest, relaxation, and the recovery process.


Optimal rest and recovery also hinges on proper nutrition. Post-workout nutrition is very important as is consistent quality eating habits. Do not skip meals and maintain a well-balanced diet (emphasize high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats). This will prepare you for your next training session or competition, as well as everyday activities.





The back squat, front squat, lunge, leg press, and step-up are all incredible exercises for the lower limb. Strength, power, and mass can be developed in multiple muscle groups by any of these exercises in combination or on their own. The quadriceps muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and calves all contribute in these exercises. As well, these exercises require the greatest metabolic, physical, and mental effort.


Many myths surround these exercises, especially with regard to the incidence of injury. It is true that if performed improperly, injuries can result, however this goes for any and all exercises. These leg exercises do not cause a greater injury risk and are in fact the cornerstone of many rehabilitation and injury prevention programs.


The proper position of the back and the knee are essential to safe exercise performance. The back should never become rounded during any resistance exercise so emphasize a straight, natural back position during all movements. The head should be up and facing forward throughout each standing exercise. 





Counting calories is usually not necessary, but sometimes a more concentrated effort with respect to diet may be necessary. Don't sabotage all your hard work with poor dietary choices. Most food packages provide a detailed nutritional analysis such as the # of total calories, # of grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, as well as the vitamins and mineral content. Check out ISSUE #1 for a great nutritional review. Following is a list of the number of calories in common foods:

Alcohol (beer or 1-ounce shot)  = ~ 150 (does not include mix!)
Apple    = ~ 100
Bagel  = 200
Banana (1 large) = ~ 100
Cheese (1 ounce/small cube)  = 150
Chicken breast (4oz/40g) = 175 (35g PRO)
Deli meat (4 slices turkey/beef)  = 100
Egg    = 74 (6g PRO)
Egg white = 12 (3g PRO)
Gatorade (355ml) = 120
Ham (3 ounces)  = 150
Juice (1 cup)  = ~ 125
McDonalds (hamburger) = 270 (10g FAT)
McDonalds (small fries) = 250
(Quarter pounder & Big Mac) = 550
Peanuts (10)  = 45
Pop (12 ounces/1 can) = 150
Potato (8 ounces) = 200 (5g PRO)
Rice (1 cup)  = 250 (6g PRO)
Steak (3 ounces)   = 135 (17g PRO)
 Tuna (3 ounces) = 100
Vegetables (1 cup raw) = 25
Yogurt (125g/1 cup)"fat-free"  = 175
Yogurt "sugar- and fat-free" = 75 
Orange = 60

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