Author, fitness model, and trainer Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
One of my first training clients had one simple goal: to take his shirt off at the beach. He was closing in on 50, not too proud of his physique, and felt his overall health sliding down quickly. His pecs and arms were his major concerns. He was angry, so he vowed to do “whatever it takes” to strengthen his core and gain pec definition. I suggested one of my favorite upper body moves for pec development and contour. And, as a bonus, you’ll get great core activation too.
The pec (pectoralis major) must be attacked from different angles because of its round shape and multiple points of origination. One point of origination is the sternum (breastbone) where the pecs come together in the middle of the chest. Once chest day rolls around, most people jump on the bench to press and focus only on those types of movements. But if you want to hit the sternocostal head of the pecs, you may want a different tool. One move that I've found is the single-arm fly. Especially when done with a resistance band, it adds great variety to your workouts and home gym.
From a standing position, mount your resistance band about six inches below shoulder height (this can be done sitting, or even better kneeling, as well). Stand facing your mounted exercise cable, holding it with your left hand. Your left arm and the cable should be fully extended, parallel to the floor, but not pulling on the cable. Then rotate your body approximately 45 degrees to the right. In this starting position, the straight line from your mounted cable, through your arm and to your shoulder should be midway between your arm fully extended in front of you and fully extended laterally. Essentially your arm is positioned 45 degree from the midline of your body.
From there, tighten your core and glutes; this will prevent the band from twisting you back towards it, and also prevent you from twisting away from the band with your torso. Look straight ahead, keeping your hips and shoulders square to the front. Tighten your shoulder blades as well; this is all key to making sure that your chest is the prime mover in the motion.
Now, maintaining a soft bend in your elbow, pull the cable toward the center of your chest, as if hugging a tree. The band will increase in resistance as you reach your midline; use this and relish it, squeezing your chest that much harder. Return to the start position and repeat; do 10 to 12 reps per arm, then repeat on the other side. Do 3 sets.
The exercise is a potent way to develop that sternocostal chest size and strength that all guys, whether in their 40s or not, crave, and it’s proof that you don’t need to lift heavy, stratospheric weights to chase well-proportioned chest development. Attack this a few times a week, unless you have a history of shoulder issues or rotator cuff injuries. In that case, this move may not be for you.
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