Chest muscles are located on the front of the upper body, between shoulders and above the stomach . The proper name for this muscle group is ‘pectorals’ or simply ‘pecs’.
This body part is visible the most when we look in a mirror without a top. This is probably the reason most beginning lifters train their chest the hardest of all the muscles.
Anatomy of chest muscles
This group consist of two muscles: pectoralis major and pectoralis minor however in bodybuilding we divide chest into lower and upper part.
The general function of chest muscles is pushing things forward (when standing) and bringing arms together (hugging motion). They are also very active during throwing objects or punching.
Exercises for chest muscles
The best strength and muscle mass exercises for chest are:
Additional exercises: pull overs (dumbbell or barbell), flyes (dumbbell or machine), cable cross-overs and press ups.
We can’t really isolate upper or lower chest but we can emphasize (work harder) these areas. Here are few exercises for the upper part of our chest:
- Incline Bench Press (barbell or dumbbells),
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes,
- Bench Press to the Neck (guillotine press).
To emphasize lower part of our chest muscles basically we use decline bench:
- Decline Bench Press,
- Decline Flyes.
Very often young or unexperienced bodybuilders try too much to improve different areas of chest muscles too early. They focus on bringing up lower part or develop inner or outer pecs more. On the beginning of our bodybuilding or weightlifting careers we should concentrate on building solid amount of mass and strength first and then try to improve the weaker or smaller areas. When your chest is small you will not really know which part of muscle is underdeveloped. Don’t waste time on it until your chest muscle are already big.
However make sure to train upper pecs as well. Most of people do lots of pressing on a flat bench and completely avoid working out on an incline bench. It results in big lower chest and very small or not existent upper part of this muscle (kind of hole between the shoulders). To achieve nice and aesthetic look of your chest, to make it look really big and impressive you should work out your upper pecs as well. Incline bench is a great tool to develop this area. Bench Press to the Neck (guillotine press) is also extremely effective. It is maybe even the best exercise for the upper chest however it’s dangerous and a bit controversial that’s why I don’t recommend it to any beginner and if you want to try it, always have a spotter.
Third very common mistake in building chest is avoiding training the opposite body part – back muscles. To make your whole body grow you have to train all your muscles equally. If you do too much bench pressing and forget about back training you’ll develop muscle imbalances – strong, tight chest and weak round back. As a result your pecs will stop to grow completely and you’ll be looking funny. So remember to not overtrain this body part.
Workout for the muscles of the chest
Workout for chest muscles depending from experience:
- Bench Press 15/15
Add another set of 15-12 repetitions after week or two of training.
- Bench Press 12/10/8,
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 10/8/6.
- Dips 12/10/8,
- Incline Barbell Bench Press 10/8/6,
- Dumbbell Pull Over 12/10/8 or Incline Flyes 12/10/8
- Bench Press 4×12-6,
- Incline Bench Press 4×12-6,
- Dips 4×10-6,
- Cable Crossovers 4xF.
Generally to build big chest muscles we have to concentrate on barbell bench press, especially flat and incline. Dips and pull-overs are also great tools. They hit our pecs from completely different angle. They are very effective exercises so make sure you include them at some stage in your workout.
Don’t spend too much time on isolation exercises like flyes or crossovers when you build your foundation. Use them only when you want to improve weaker areas or finish off chest workout. Some people like to use them to pre-exhaust training muscle group as well. 2 light sets of 12-15 repetitions might be very helpful for anybody who has problem in ‘feeling’ chest during their training. Just don’t overdo it.
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like training their chest. I believe it’s the most popular muscle group. Usually in Mondays in most gyms of this planet people train their chest – it’s funny called ‘international bench press day’. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t have to wait too long for your turn.
Make sure you train the rest of your muscles equally, especially back. Too many guys are ‘killing’ their chest and train lats only occasionally or not at all. It usually stops the growth completely or slows it down.
Perform bench press often on an incline bench as well. Your chest will look much more impressive when the upper part of it is also developed.
Remember also that more doesn’t always mean better. So if you still have a bit of energy at the end of your workout, stretch these muscles instead doing another set of Bench Pressing, it will give you much better effect than over-training it.