a man in the barbell press bench

How to develop the pectoral muscles

The pectoral muscles are three muscles (the pectoralis major muscle, the pectoralis minor muscle, and the anterior serratus) that connect the front part of the thorax with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.

Most people like chest exercises because they can see results quite quickly. At least if you use the correct exercises and do them correctly.

To have the best possible chest training, you must understand how these pectoral muscles work.

  1. The pectoralis major muscle is the most important muscle for adduction and anteversion of the shoulder joint.

2. The pectoralis minor is located below the pectoralis major and both form the anterior wall of the armpit.

3. The anterior serratus has two main functions: pull the anterior and inferior scapula towards the ribs respectively.

What are some chest exercises for beginners?

The golden rule about how to exercise the pectoral muscles is that you must control the movement. Whichever weight you choose, it will determine your range of repetitions, but don’t go too heavy too fast.

Start with a lighter weight and be sure to control the pace throughout the exercise. Excessive stretching can cause problems with the tendons, which are the points of connection of the muscle with the bone.

In the beginning, you should try to do 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions, and as you get better and get stronger, you can do 4 series or maybe up the weight, that will depend on you.

What are some chest exercises?

These are some exercises for pecs with barbell or dumbbells.

1. Bench press

The bench press is one of the best exercises for the growth of chest muscle mass. It focuses mainly on the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

The dumbbell bench press and the barbell bench press give the same result. Although when you work on the bench press with weights, you get a greater range of movement since the weights can go down even more than the bar because it stumbles with the chest.

Depending on whether you have a narrow or wide grip, you can decide which muscle groups you focus on. The wider, the more focus on the chest. The narrower, the more they focus on the triceps.

There are three different variations of bench press: horizontal, inclined and declined.

Bench press with slope

By adjusting the angle of the bench, you can adjust which part you work. That is, you can change the focus to the upper chest or the lower part. It’s smart, for example, if you’re missing some fullness at some specific point in your chest. Keep in mind that the exercise will not isolate the pectoral muscles at 100%. You will always train your entire chest, no matter how you do it.

Inclined bench press: A bank tilt angle of 30 ° or 45 ° resulted in increased muscle activation during certain time points, according to a study published in the European Journal of Sports Science.

Decline bench press: With a declined bench press, you move the pressure towards the lower pectorals. Adjust the bench at an angle between 15 and 30 degrees. You can often lift several extra kilos because the angle is good for large chest muscles.

Make sure you have the right dumbbells for you, neither too heavy nor too light for it.

The bench press is essential in your chest routine

The bench press should be the base exercise for your chest workout. Another characteristic of that exercise is that it will force your body to produce testosterone naturally, which will accelerate the growth of ALL your muscles.

Lie on the bench, tight buttocks and feet well planted on the floor.

The dumbbells should be placed at shoulder width and chest height. Push up hard, inhale, and lower to the chest with a controlled movement, exhale at the end of the movement.

If you have back problems or want to isolate the pectoral muscles, do the extension with your legs raised.

Your arms should go down at the same pace

You also don’t want one arm to go down faster than the other. What you are looking for is an explosion when it goes up and a controlled movement when it goes down. If you do it right, you should feel how the pectoral muscles work by pumping blood.

Typical mistakes when doing bench press

When people decide they want to do a bench press, sometimes their approach is a bit wrong. At first, you usually have no idea how to exercise optimally to increase your strength.

The most typical mistake is to use a range of bodybuilding repetitions. When exercising to gain muscle mass, it is very normal to do 6 to 12 repetitions. This is sensitive enough, since at this rate you get the best relationship between muscle tension and muscle time under tension, compared to muscle growth.

1. Number of repetitions

When deciding to increase strength, completely different rules apply. We will go into that in the next section, but I can reveal that we have to go below 5 repetitions if we really want to increase strength.

2. Muscle division

Another mistake is to follow a traditional muscular division of bodybuilding. In bodybuilding, it is normal to divide muscle groups into different parts, to have time to do more exercises for each muscle. This means that the muscle is worked less frequently. In most fragmented programs the muscle is worked only once a week.

Recent research shows that this approach may be valid in relation to muscle growth, but in relation to strength, it has been shown that the more frequently you exercise the more pronounced will be the gain in strength.

Therefore, one should not do many repetitions to increase strength, just as one should also move away from the traditional muscular division of bodybuilding.

3. Don’t get enough rest

The last typical mistake people make is simply to exercise too much and press too hard. This may sound a bit strange when the goal is to strengthen. But when I say they train too much, I don’t mean absolutely.

What I mean is that most people train too often. They go at full speed every time they are in the gym. Of course, they must respect their willingness to strive every time, but unfortunately, the body does not always respond positively to such a constant level of effort.

In addition, people tend to always take their exercises to failure. By failure, it is understood that you continue doing repetitions until you can no longer lift anymore. This is NOT the way to get strong. And forced repetitions are even worse. With forced repetitions, I mean the practice in which people get help to do some additional repetitions when they cannot do more for themselves.

It is probably the most destructive way to train if you want to be stronger.

2. Chest fly

Chest flys are the best-known isolation exercise in chest training. It focuses only on the chest, which is why they strengthen it more than other exercises. Other exercises strengthen the chest, but also other muscle groups.

Many people think that they can exercise only the inner part of the chest, but you cannot. No matter how you exercise your chest. When you work the chest you work the entire chest.

When doing this exercise, it is important to keep your chest high and your elbows toward the body. Before you begin, find a curve in your arms that you will use during exercise. This curve must be constant throughout the exercise.

Procedure (with weights): Lie on the bench, it can be horizontal or inclined. Push the weights up until they collide with each other. Find your curve in the arms, do not keep them fully stretched. Open your arms until you feel a stretch in your chest. Lift them back to the starting position.

3. Shoulder press

The shoulder press focuses mainly on the shoulders and triceps, but the chest is also involved in the exercise.

There is not much technique in the exercise, since you really just have to push the bar/weights over your head. On the other hand, the shoulder press requires that you have mobility in the upper body. It is in the lower position that the shoulder must work harder.

Procedure (with weights): Hold the weights on your shoulders and rest them on your shoulders behind the head. You should push the weights/bar up until your arms are straight. Lower your arms back to the starting position.

woman performing a shoulder press

What are some chest exercises to perform at home?

Some good ideas on how to exercise your chest at home.

1. Push-ups

The push-ups are a great exercise for toning the chest.

It is considered part of training known as calisthenics, which are exercises to develop strength and flexibility that are performed from your body weight, without any special equipment.

Place your hands in a slightly wider position than your shoulders, separate your feet and keep your body straight. Lower your body so that your chest is about to touch the ground and then return to the starting position by pushing your body up.

woman performing a push-up on top of two benches

2. Maltese push-ups

Maltese push-ups are excellent chest training for skinny men. They are like regular push-ups with the only difference that you place your hands a little more open than your normal shoulders.

Try to open your arms as much as you can perform this exercise.

Push-ups are a very good exercise since you don’t need a bench or weights to do it.

3. Diamond pushups

Diamond push-ups will help you get a bigger chest.

Again, they are like regular push-ups, but instead of having your hands at shoulder height, you will place them together under your chest in a triangular position.

If you want to add additional resistance, try using resistance bands, that will make your chest look like it’s going to explode!

4. Inclined push-ups

For inclined push-ups, place your hands on a bench, chair or desk, make sure it is a safe place. Your hands should be slightly wider than the width of your shoulders, with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes on the floor.

Now you should lower your body so that your chest is a few centimeters from the bench. Return to the starting position by extending your elbows and pushing your body up. As it always explodes when climbing, control when lowering.

This is an excellent chest training routine for both men and women when done in combination with the other push-ups.

What are the best exercises for the lower chest?

1. Chest dips

Chest dips are one of the best exercises to develop strength in the pectoral muscles. It is an exercise that works the chest, shoulders and triceps.

The more leaning forwards the greater the focus on the chest. You want to lean but without going over because if you lean too much you would start carrying the load on your shoulders. One solution to this is to take your feet forward too.

Have a shoulder width grip (it is not always possible to choose your grip. Most machines cannot be adjusted).

Procedure: Prepare yourself on the shelf with your arms stretched. Breathe deeply and lower your shoulders until they are parallel to your elbows. You can also go deeper. Now push up to the starting position and exhale.

Keep your shoulders back all the time. If you feel pressure on your shoulders, it may be because it falls too deep. At first you can do this exercise with body weight and as you get better you can add weight (with a weighted vest).

man performing chest dips

What are the best exercises for the upper chest?

1. Olympic bar push – (Landmine chest press)

This exercise is not really what it is called, I learned it from some bodybuilders in the United States, but it is a great exercise to work the chest, triceps, and shoulders while incorporating the abdominals for balance and stabilization.

All you need is a bar, some weights and a fulcrum.

All you need to do is secure the bar so that it does not move in any direction, you can use a corner or any type of hole that prevents its movement. The exercise can be done both standing and kneeling.

Grasp the bar with both hands to form a good base and lift it up to chest level. Your torso should be straight, squeeze your abs to maintain an upright posture with a little lean forward.

Chest up, rhomboids back and bent elbows. Now push the bar up above the level of your head, get full arm extension, squeeze your chest all the time and keep up the explosive movement.

When you lower, remember to control the weight, lower by contracting the abdominal and pectoral muscles.

landmine chest press, pectoral muscles

2. Pullover

Is the pullover a chest or back exercise? It is mainly a chest exercise, but the dorsal provide good help.

This exercise, if you do it well, will not be working the dorsals a lot, as you would do with pull-ups or rows. They are only there to help slightly with the weight. The key is to expand and contract the chest. By performing this exercise you will get great resistance.

Make a triangular grip to grab the weight on the head.

Lying on the bench, lift the dumbbell over your chest with the arms almost fully stretched, bring the dumbbell back passing your head, controlling the movement at all times. From there you return to the starting position by squeezing the chest when you reach the top.

Its range of motion will be from the total extension of the chest to its complete contraction.

Do not involve the dorsal muscles

Maintain a strong posture by bringing the dumbbell back, back as far as your chest expands, if you go back further, it will put too much strain on the dorsals and that can become a back exercise.

Just extend and contract the pectoral muscles. When you notice the complete contraction of the muscles, the movement is over.

You should make sure you have a slight bend in your elbow at all times, your arms are not completely straight, but they also do not bend during the movement.

A common mistake you should avoid

A common mistake that many people make is to bend the elbows and turn this into an extension of the triceps.

What are the best exercises for the internal and external chest?

1. Chest pulley

Chest pulleys are one of the best workouts to shape and size.

Again, there are three different variations in this exercise: upper, middle and lower pulley.

What you are going to do is to pull the pulleys towards the chest while you contract it, which will activate the upper, middle, or lower part of the pectoral muscles, depending on the variation you are making.

Remember to control the speed at all times, explode on your way up and reduce the speed on your way back.

Isolation exercises or basic exercises?

Strength training exercises are divided into two forms: basic exercises and isolation exercises.

Basic exercises train multiple muscle groups at the same time. An example is the bench press. Your exercise program should always include basic exercises.

Isolation exercises affect only one muscle group. An example is openings. Your exercise program may include isolation exercises. But it is not essential.

Isolation exercises are often used if you want to improve a muscle group in which you feel weak. If you want a slightly larger chest, you can add an isolation exercise that focuses on the area you want to improve. That way, you can squeeze a little more from your chest. Of course, it provides greater muscle mass.

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