A powerful chest is one of the most desirable elements of an overall fit body. It's the centerpiece of your physique, and well-shaped and toned muscles up front are important for that bare-chested day at the beach, as well as for a great fit in a business suit.
For women, weight training in general and chest exercises in particular, can halt and reverse the process of sagging breasts. The breasts attach to the frontal area of the left and right pectoralis major muscles that fan broadly across the upper part of the chest box. The way the breasts are suspended depends in large part on the strength, size and condition of your chest muscles. Pecs can provide a firm foundation for the breasts.
The chest muscles are vital to effective movements, and the greater their development, the more effective you are at executing upper body sports skills. With the hearty development of this prominent muscle group you'll not only add power to all-around athletic movements, but you'll also breathe easier, as the muscles of the rib cage develop and add to your ability to take in oxygen.
Kinesiology & Physiology
One of the principle muscles involved in chest movements is the pectoralis major, it covers almost your entire chest. The pectoralis minor is involved in movements that allow your arms to move through a full range of motion.
Lie on your back on a flat bench, with your feet spaced about shoulder-distance, resting on the floor. Take a medium overhand grip on the bar, hands shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the rack, and hold it over your chest at arm's length above you. Lower the bar slowly until it touches your upper pectorals; be sure to keep your elbows underneath the bar (don't bring them forward) and don't rotate your upper arm. Then press the bar back up until your arms are almost locked. Repeat. Use either a close grip (elbows at your sides) or a wide grip (elbows at right angles to your body) The first emphasizes your upper chest and shoulders, the latter your chest.
Bench Press Demonstration
AKA Bench Flye AKA Chest Flye
These develop the entire pectoralis major. Lie on a flat bench, holding the dumbbells at arm's length above you with your palms facing one another. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the floor. Begin to lower the weights out and down; the first two-thirds of the descent should be at a moderate speed, then proceed very slowly in the final third of the movement to reduce the strain on your shoulders. As you hit the final third of the descent, turn your elbows slightly back, pronate your wrists and bring your palms forward just a little. Again, this helps to reduce the stress on your shoulders while emphasizing the contraction in your pecs. Inhale as you slowly raise the dumbbells until they touch one another. Slowly exhale as you lower the dumbbells.
Dumbbell Flyes Demonstration
Lie on your back on a bench, holding one dumbbell over your chest and gripping both hands around the handle at one of the weighted ends. With your elbows slightly bent, lower the dumbbell down behind your head toward the floor. Pause at the bottom of the movement. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbell back up over your head to the starting position.
Dumbbell Pullover Demonstration
AKA Cross-Chest Cable Pulls
Using a cable machine, pull diagonally upward across your chest until the cables cross and your hands reach shoulder level. The upward movement develops your upper chest. For your lower chest, do the cable pulls diagonally downward across your abdomen. Stand between two overhead pulleys, grasping a handle in each hand. Bend your elbows slightly and maintain this angle throughout the movement. Bend forward slightly and turn your arms so that your elbows point up and back. Moving your hands in a wide arc, bring them together in front of you, feeling the pectoral muscles contract. The higher you bring them together the more you work the upper chest. If you bring them together too low, you will involve the lats and reduce the effect on the pecs. Keep the arms locked in the bent-elbow position to avoid using the triceps. Keeping your body steady, allow your hands to be pulled back in a wide arc until your chest muscles are fully stretched.
Cable Crossovers Demonstration
AKA Machine Flyes
The pec-deck machine is another way to do flyes, which work both your upper and lower chest at the same time. On the Pec Deck machine, position yourself so that your entire back is flat against the seat's back. Place your forearms on the pads or grip the handles firmly, depending on the design of the machine, and keep your elbows up and away from your body and squeeze the handles together in a controlled fashion. Next, inhale as you slowly bring the handles back and fully stretch the pectoralis muscles. While a full stretch is important, always reach this position slowly and under complete control. Never bounce.
Pec Deck Demonstration
Other hubs in the series:
- Lower Back
Renaissance Mouse from Asheville, North Carolina on January 27, 2010:
This is a great overall article for novices and intermediate lifters alike interested in stimulating new pectoral growth. My chest has always been the most stubborn barrier to my overall muscle growth, but I am pleased to see improvements in recent months, many of which involve some of the training techniques outlined here. Thank you for sharing!
intogadget on November 13, 2009:
great hub, im surprised you didn't mention the benefits of doing push ups, but the other exercises you stated add a variety to chest workout, and i can see how staging each on a chest day could result in massive pump, thanks for the info
Caleb Anderson on September 19, 2009:
If you don't care about making gains in terms of strength, and are simply interested in building muscle then it is important to try and focus in exactly on your chest, and to not use your back or hips, cool hub.
Haunty from Hungary on May 23, 2009:
Great hub! Thanks.