Chest Muscles

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User's Manual
Chest Exercises
Chest Stretches
Amazing Facts
Related Links

The Pecs (or the Pectoral muscles)
The large muscles of the chest, used to draw the arms together in front of the body as in pushups or bench press.

Medial / Proximal attachments:
Medial clavicle
Sternum
Ribs

Distal / Lateral attachments:
Humerus
Scapula (coracoid process)

User's Manual

see Muscular System User's Manual

Chest Exercises

Push-ups

Main target: chest, shoulders and triceps. The abdominals and lower back are used for stability.

  • Hands shoulder width apart placed on the floor.
  • Body perfectly straight.
  • Feet shoulder width apart, balls of the feet against the floor.
  • Lower body, until arms reach 90û angles.
  • Push body until arms are straight.
  • Repeat.

If you want to simultaneously develop your forearms, try pushups using your fingertips.

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Bench Press
Main target: the pecs or pectorals (the chest) and triceps.

  • Use a spot if necessary - at least make sure others are available for help.
  • Lie on a bench with both feet on the floor over shoulder-width apart for stability.
  • Grab the bar with hands placed slightly over shoulder width apart
  • Lower the bar under control until elbows are bent at 90û (any more is unnecessary and may risk tearing tissue or sacrificing form).
  • Push bar up while breathing out.
  • Repeat.

Hand placement variations offer added benefits by targeting different muscles

Wide Grip Bench Press
Main target: chest, front shoulders
Hands placed a bit farther apart than regular bench press position

Close-Grip Bench Press
Main target: chest, front shoulders, triceps
Hands placed a bit narrower than shoulder width apart or 2 hand widths apart

Watch your balance, as it becomes more difficult using a narrow grip! Using an EZ curl bar can help you balance and retain a natural position.

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Incline Press
Main target: the upper pectoral muscles, deltoids (shoulders) and triceps.

  • Make sure a spot is available.
  • Perform bench press on an incline bench or use an incline press machine.
  • Start with your back straight, flat against the incline bench, feet on the floor, hands just over shoulder -width apart. Lift the bar to the starting position directly over your eyes.
  • Lower the barbell toward your chest, until your arms are roughly bent at 90û.
  • Pause.
  • Push the bar back up tot he starting position.
  • Repeat.

This exercise might be hard to do with little experience. A spot can check your form.

When starting out, be conservative on the weight as people are generally weaker at incline press than at decline or regular bench press.

Wide-grip Incline Press
Main Target: chest, triceps

Same as above only place hands a bit farther apart.

 

 

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Decline Press
Main target: lower and outer sections of the pectoral muscles helping to define a chiseled border, and the triceps.

  • Perform bench press on a decline bench or on a decline machine.
  • If using a decline bench, you need a spotter.
  • Lie on your back on the decline bench.
  • Secure your feet in foot braces, either at the end of the bench or wrapping your legs over the end and securing your feet below. See diagram.
  • Have your spotter(s) hand you the weight making sure you have control of it.
  • Press the barbell vertically into the air.
  • Lower the bar until your upper arms are in line with your chest to avoid over-extension.
  • Repeat.

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Dumbbell Bench Press
Main target: the pecs or pectorals (the chest) and triceps.

You can do a bench press, incline press, or decline press using dumbbells in each hand. Using dumbbells can be safer than using a barbell when you do not have a spotter beside you. Rotating the dumbbells during the exercise helps squeeze the chest muscles.

Regular Dumbbell Bench:

  • Use a spot if necessary - at least make sure others are available for help.
  • Lie on a bench with both feet on the floor over shoulder-width apart for stability.
  • Hold dumbells at arms length directly above your shoulders and chest with palms facing each other.
  • Lower dumbbells under control to a height just above the height of the chest, and to positions on either side of the chest with palms facing forward (this requires you to rotate the dumbbells 90û during the descent). Breath in as you lower the weights.
  • Push dumbbells back to the starting position while breathing out.
  • Pause while pressing the chest muscles.
  • Repeat.

For incline and decline dumbbell bench press, follow positional instructions for barbell bench press above. Just replace the bar with dumbbells obviously. Dumbbell rotation is optional.

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Pullover
Main target: back, chest and triceps.

  • Grab a barbell with overhand grip, hands shoulder width apart.
  • Lie back on a bench.
  • Hold the bar at arms-length above your chest bending elbows slightly.
  • Slowly lower the bar behind your head keeping the elbows slightly bent, while taking in a deep breath.
  • Feel the stretch in your back and sides (latissimus dorsi).
  • Exhale as you raise the bar back to its position above your chest.
  • Repeat.

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Decline Pullover
Main target: a sharp delineation around and under the pecs.

Perform pullover on a decline bench raising the bar straight above your chest.

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Dumbbell Pullover
Main target: back, chest and triceps.

  • Lie back on a bench. It might be more comfortable if you lie perpendicular to the bench, with only your upper back against it, supporting the rest of your body with your legs.
  • Hold a single dumbbell with both hands at arms-length above your chest bending elbows slightly.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head keeping the elbows slightly bent, while taking in a deep breath.
  • Feel the stretch in your back and sides (latissimus dorsi).
  • Exhale as you raise the dumbbell back to its position above your chest.
  • Repeat.

For an extra tricep burn, each time you complete a pullover, lower the dumbbell straight down until it touches your chest. Do this twice after each pullover repetition.

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Dumbbell Flies
Main Target: Isolated chest.

  • Lie back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Keep your arms straight or your elbows only slightly bent.
  • Hold the dumbbells above your chest, palms facing each other.
  • Lower your arms out to the sides until they are parallel with the floor.
  • Return them to the position above your chest, hold and flex for a seconds or two.
  • Repeat.

You may also rotate the dumbells during the exercise so your palms face each other when extending above your chest, and your palms face forward when extending out to the sides.

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Unilateral Cable Crossovers
Main Target: chest Ð The universal stack provides a more constant resistance at every point in the motion as opposed to dumbbell flies, which create less resistance as the arms come together.

  • Stand between two overhead pulleys.
  • Grab each handle.
  • Bend forward slightly placing one foot slightly in front and the other slightly behind.
  • Start with hands extended out to the sides.
  • Keeping your arms straight, draw your hands together in front of you allowing them to cross over each other.
  • Hold the contracted position for 1 second.
  • Return your arms to the starting position.
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Chest Stretches


Chest Stretch

  • Stand tall in front of a wall (or other vertical surface such as a tree) at a 45û from the walls surface.
  • Raise your right arm and place your right hand against the wall so your right arm is bent at a 90û angle and your upper arm is parallel to the ground.
  • Slowly rotate your left shoulder away from the wall pressing your forearm and hand into the wall.
  • Feel the stretch across the right side of your chest.
  • Repeat the stretch using the left arm.

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  • Anatomy Topics

Related Info

Next Page of Muscular System Tour

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Amazing Facts

  • You have all the muscle fibers you will ever have at birth. Once damaged they can't be replaced.
  • Arnold Shwarzenaeger has just about as many muscle fibers as you do. They're just thicker.
  • A single muscle cell of the sartorius muscle in the thigh can be more than 12 inches long.
  • There are more than 600 voluntary muscles in the body.
  • If all your muscles could pull in one direction you could create a force of 25 tons.
  • Muscles account of 40% of your body weight.

Related Links

Strength Building Exercise

Other skeletal muscles
Facial muscles
Neck
Sternocleidomastoid
Chest
Pectoral muscles
Pecs
Diaphragm
Stomach
Abdominals
Abs
Rectus abdominis
External oblique
Internal oblique
Transversus abdominis

Shoulders
Deltoids
Delts

Arms
Biceps
Triceps
Forearms
Extensors
Flexors
Legs
Thigh muscles
Quadriceps
Quads
Lower leg muscles
Calves
Back
Trapezius
Traps
Latissimus dorsi
Lats
Erector spinae muscles
Correct Posture