myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same muscle

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Harpoon
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myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same muscle

Post by Harpoon » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:48 pm

from wikipedia...
A variety of resistance exercises can be used to train the pectoralis major, including bench pressing (using dumbbells, barbells or machines at various angles such as decline, incline and flat where the hips are above, below and level with the head respectively), push ups, flyes (using dumbbells or machines at either flat or inclined angles), cable crossovers or dips. Multi-joint press exercises are better for building muscle mass, while fly and crossovers are more suited for shaping and increasing striations. This muscle is often said to consist of four portions (upper, lower, inner and outer) but the pectoralis actually contracts evenly across all heads during most exercises and as such no portion can be 'targeted'.[4]
How much of this is true?

I do incline presses because I want to buff out the upper part of my chest (pectoralis major), but if it doesn't really matter (either the muscle contracts or not), is there a point? How does this carry on to other exercises?

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by commodiusvicus » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:14 am

The Pec Major muscle has two heads: clavicular and sternal. Incline presses will indeed build the upper part of your chest, but only because it's a separate head.

Generally speaking, you can strengthen one part of a muscle if it's a muscle with more than one functional region. The trapezius muscle, for example, has three different regions (upper, middle, and lower), and each region has a different function. You can train one part of the muscle by training the movement that it participates in. For instance, you can do shrugs for the upper region of the trapezius, which controls scapular elevation.

Some muscles, on the other hand (for example, the rectus abdominis [six pack] muscle) have only one functional region. Any time someone tells you something "hits your lower abs", they're full of it. Here's a good explanation as to why http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Myth ... hor7441959" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by robertscott » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:20 am

um, you can hit the lower abs. Check out Bret Contreras's EMG study on it

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Dub » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:37 am

Do you have a link to these studies? I got interested. I believe you can't develop your "six-pack" in parts. It's still the same muscle. Some moves might have more reaction or stimulation on the lower part of the abdominis, but the move still works the whole muscle, and I don't think you can have untrained lower abs or anything like that, like you would have to hit them seperately.
On thought came into mind about the m. pyramidalis. It's located in the lower abdomen, and origos from the pubic bone. Could Contreras mean that as lower abs?

Sort of similar with the pectoralis. Since the insertion and the function is roughly the same, you will work on the whole muscle, the whole muscle will contract. Mainly in incline presses the clavicular part is most likely more active and provides greater force to the movement. Some people even say that the pectoralis major has tree heads. Some people don't include the abdominal part as a part of the sternal head. Pectoralis major is also attached to the upper part of the rectus abdominis. Altough opinons vary from that fact also. I've heard of training lower pecs also, and I think that might mean the abdominal head.
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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by robertscott » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:57 pm

it's not so much that you isolate the lower abs, just emphasise them. Here's the Contreras article:

http://bretcontreras.com/2010/11/abc-as ... lower-abs/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Ironman » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:52 am

robertscott wrote:um, you can hit the lower abs. Check out Bret Contreras's EMG study on it
The whole thing contracts because the fibers run the length of the muscle, there is no bone or anything separating them. There is also only one neural connection. So it simply is not physiologically possible in the human body. A reading showing the results you are talking about would require an explanation as it seems to be impossible, and therefore more likely a faulty reading.

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Ironman » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:05 am

However, I believe that you can “target” one part, or steer more activation toward one portion or another.
That's not a very convincing assertion.

I conducted two experiments where I measured upper vs. lower abdominal activity, the tables for which can be found in my glute eBook.
Oh in the ebook eh? Well isn't that convenient. I have all my dragon pictures in the pocket of my other pants......


Now forget about the tables and look at this video of Shakira belly dancing. Then read these 6 studies that have nothing to do with what I am asserting......

Does he not realize that having read nothing else he has ever written, my impression of him is that he is a royal dumb ass at best, and maybe even intellectually dishonest, or trying to sell a few ebooks under false pretense?

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by robertscott » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:51 am

Ironman wrote:
Does he not realize that having read nothing else he has ever written, my impression of him is that he is a royal dumb ass at best, and maybe even intellectually dishonest, or trying to sell a few ebooks under false pretense?
hehe, to be honest mate, I'm not sure he knows who you are...

my opinion of him after having read loads of his stuff is he's the bees knees, so I believe him.

Also anecdotally (I know, I know, anecdotal evidence means nothing...) I know that certain exercises I have done in the past have emphasised the lower portion of my abs. In fact, I am 100% sure I can target the top, middle and bottom sections of my abs.

Also, considering the guy makes his living off this sort of thing, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to want to get folk to buy his ebooks. We've all got bills to pay, and he gives away loads of what I consider good info for free on his website and on t-nation anyways.

(I'm a little worried now that Ironman's going to rip me apart...)

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:39 pm

I think Contreras is a well-meaning guy with a lot of knowledge. At some point he bough himself an EMG, learned to use it, started studying himself and writing articles about the results. I don't know that he has acquired the scientific knowledge or know-how to properly conduct these experiments or to interpret the results. I think his conclusions are often interesting, but I wouldn't stake my life on any of them. He's currently in a PhD program in New Zealand. Hopefully he will fill in the theoretical and analytical gaps in his knowledge.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Ironman » Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:35 am

robertscott wrote:
Ironman wrote:
Does he not realize that having read nothing else he has ever written, my impression of him is that he is a royal dumb ass at best, and maybe even intellectually dishonest, or trying to sell a few ebooks under false pretense?
hehe, to be honest mate, I'm not sure he knows who you are...

my opinion of him after having read loads of his stuff is he's the bees knees, so I believe him.

Also anecdotally (I know, I know, anecdotal evidence means nothing...) I know that certain exercises I have done in the past have emphasised the lower portion of my abs. In fact, I am 100% sure I can target the top, middle and bottom sections of my abs.

Also, considering the guy makes his living off this sort of thing, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to want to get folk to buy his ebooks. We've all got bills to pay, and he gives away loads of what I consider good info for free on his website and on t-nation anyways.

(I'm a little worried now that Ironman's going to rip me apart...)
No, that's not what I meant. Not me specifically. I mean that if someone reads this article, and it is the first thing they have read of his, they are going to have a very bad impression. Like say he wrote a bunch of other stuff that's really brilliant, but all you've seen is that article. Then he would have made a very poor impression on all such people, well provided they actually look at his links and stuff.

So the article leads me to believe he may be an idiot, or have some sort of agenda. But of course I won't state that he definitely is, because that's the only one I've read.

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by robertscott » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:51 am

it's cool man I know you didn't really mean "you" as in "you specifically".

I suppose it works both ways, if it was the first thing of his someone read they might think he was full of $h1t, but because I've been a Contreras fan for a while I'm much more likely to believe him

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by KPj » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:46 am

Ironman wrote: A reading showing the results you are talking about would require an explanation as it seems to be impossible, and therefore more likely a faulty reading.
That's my issue with it, although i've not been able to articulate it like you have. I just knew there was something I didn't like about it. I also remember reading a little about EMG data and I don't think it tells us everything. I didn't absorb enough to explain why, but I absorbed enough to know there's more to it and it's currently beyond my understanding.

This, and why would we want to emphasise the lower abs anyway? Even if we can, what is the advantage?

That and his "To Crunch or Not to Crunch" article made me question his intentions a little, as if to some extent he likes to be controversial.

I do really like 99% of his stuff, though, the above is only a small criticism, really.

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Jungledoc » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:06 pm

Can you turn on different parts of a light bulb? Even just emphasize different parts?
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by tyciol » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:07 pm

robertscott wrote:my opinion of him after having read loads of his stuff is he's the bees knees, so I believe him.
Faith can be misplaced. I have a generally very high opinion of guys like Christian Thibaudeau, for example. A lot of his stuff makes complete sense, and I want to place my faith in him. But then I come across pseudoscientific crap he's published like how to do a reverse squat with a lat pulldown to hit the hamstrings, and I realize he can make mistakes.

The same should be possible with Bret Contreras. We shouldn't put blind faith in stuff they say, controversial things must be tested even if they come from trusted sources. All him supporting lower abs means is that his arguments for it are worth considering, not that we should accept a claim without arguments.
robertscott wrote:Also anecdotally (I know, I know, anecdotal evidence means nothing...) I know that certain exercises I have done in the past have emphasised the lower portion of my abs. In fact, I am 100% sure I can target the top, middle and bottom sections of my abs.
I agree, anecdotal evidence means nothing.
robertscott wrote:Also, considering the guy makes his living off this sort of thing, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to want to get folk to buy his ebooks. We've all got bills to pay, and he gives away loads of what I consider good info for free on his website and on t-nation anyways. (I'm a little worried now that Ironman's going to rip me apart...)
While I agree with this, 'the evidence is somewhere you must pay for' shouldn't make us assume that the illegible evidence is legitimate.

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Re: myth or fact? targeting different parts of the same musc

Post by Ironman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:51 am

KPj wrote:I also remember reading a little about EMG data and I don't think it tells us everything. I didn't absorb enough to explain why, but I absorbed enough to know there's more to it and it's currently beyond my understanding.
I'm also a little a skeptical about it. I doubt that reading is the only factor. I'm also not sure if it has quite the level of accuracy it is said to. It might be more ballpark than exact. Kind of like body fat calipers.

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