The chest is composed of two muscles. The pectoralis major is the bigger of the two, and covers most of your chest. One of its jobs is to turn your arm inward. Its other job is to help pull your arm forward and down. An example of this muscle in action would be when pushing a lawn mower.
The pectoralis minor is directly under the pectoralis major. It's attached to your third, fourth and fifth ribs at the bottom. At the top, it's attached to the front of your shoulder blade. The pectoralis minor muscle helps pull your shoulder blade down, and is useful when pushing down with your hands.
To reduce the chance of injury, always take time to warm up the muscles that will be worked. Keep in mind that many chest exercises use other muscles, such as the triceps and shoulders. To help prevent next-day muscle soreness, plan a workout that uses moderate weights and includes post-workout stretching. And remember, in order to see results you should always keep up consistent exercise routines.
Ready to pump up your chest? The following five workouts are excellent for increasing chest muscularity. Here's how to build muscles in your chest and pecs.
This is one of the best chest workouts you can do. Pushups target primarily the chest muscles, and also indirectly involve the shoulders and the triceps. Pushups can be done standing against a wall, on the floor with knees bent or straight-legged. No weights are needed for this exercise. To perform this exercise:
- Place your hands a few inches wider than your shoulders, either on the floor or the wall. (Placing your hands closer will emphasize the triceps.) Keep hands level with your chest.
- If performing pushups against a wall, place your feet at a distance greater than your arms' length when they are extended.
- Lower yourself (or if using the wall version, lean toward the wall) until your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Keep tension in your abs to help support the back; no swaybacks allowed! Maintain a straight line from head-to-toe.
- Press your upper body back up to the starting position, keeping a slight bend in the elbows. Completely locking out your elbows at the top is not beneficial and may cause injury. Exhaling as you push up will provide added power.
- CHEST PRESS
The chest press is a mass building exercise. It can be done on a bench or on the floor. A bench provides for a better downward stretch. Use caution, though; this stretch should not be felt in the shoulder region. If using an adjustable bench, inclining focuses on the upper chest and declining focuses on the lower chest.
- Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders toward the floor, squeezing your back slightly. Dumbbells are in line with your chest and palms should be facing away from you.
- With the dumbbells lightly resting on your outer chest, press the weight upward and inward. The inner portion of the dumbbells should gently touch as you approach the top of the movement.
- Press upward, stopping short of your elbows locking out. Squeeze your chest muscles at the top to intensify the muscle contraction.
- PEC DECK (Without the Machine)
This exercise is great for tightening the inner portion of the chest. Pay close attention to how your pectoral muscles feel versus how your shoulders feel. Feeling soreness in your shoulders during this exercise calls for either re-examining your posture or lightening up on the weights being used. Remember, pectoral workouts may slightly work the arms and shoulders, but you want to be careful and understand how much they should be worked. To perform this exercise:
- Shoulders are down and relaxed. Lightly squeeze your back muscles. Tighten the abs to maintain proper posture.
- Upper arms are out to your sides, palms facing forward, and are parallel to the floor. Elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle.
- Focus on bringing the elbows together (not your hands) for maximum chest squeeze. Hold this squeeze momentarily, and then bring the arms out to your sides again in a controlled manner.
This exercise works the pectoralis minor, a muscle that is situated under the pectoralis major and easily forgotten. The pullover is great for building a fuller chest and muscular pecs, as when it grows bigger it pushes out the pectoralis major. Although a bench is not necessary, using one will provide for a deeper stretch. To perform this exercise:
- Lie face up on the floor or bench with knees bent.
- With arms vertically straight, hold the dumbbells above the chest. Palms should be facing each other.
- Keeping arms straight, steadily lower them backward to a position behind the head (down as far as they'll comfortably go).
- Raise arms up again to starting position.
- DUMBBELL FLYE
This works the chest in a stretched position; that is, tension is mainly felt when your arms are stretched out to either side. The dumbbell flye is great for sculpting the chest. Again, a bench is not necessary, but provides for a greater stretch. To perform this exercise:
- Lie face up on the floor with knees bent and weights close to your chest.
- Pull your shoulders toward the floor, squeezing your back slightly.
- Start with arms fully extended over your chest, palms facing each other.
- Slowly lower the weights by stretching your arms out to either side. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise. Continue lowering until you feel a good stretch in your chest.
- Remember to squeeze, or contract, your chest muscles when bringing the dumbbells together for best results.
Now you know how to workout the pecs. These five pectoral exercises can be mix-and-matched to keep your workout routine exciting and your chest muscles expanding. Paired up with sound nutrition, exercise and fitness, you'll soon attain your perfect physique.