As the largest muscle group, at least in the upper body, the chest muscles require specific targeted exercises. Known as pectoralis, or “pecs”, the chest muscles are fan shaped and rather thick. Since these muscles are so big, the only real way to effectively build them is by using heavy weight and dedicating a day in the gym to their development.
An important note: the pecs are considered pushing muscles. This means that they tie in very closely with your arms and shoulders – specifically your deltoids and triceps. After completing your chest workout routine, it is natural to feel that these other muscle groups have been worked a bit as well. Also, you should know that the amount of weight used in your workout directly effects the spread, depth, and size of your pecs.
A quick overview of exercises that target the pecs:
Bench Press – this is definitely the “go-to” chest exercise. As there are many different ways to do this, lets review the basics. While laying on a flat bench, use a wide grip on the bar. Lower the bar to your upper chest/lower neck area. Repeat.
This exercise is diverse. Changing the grip and where the bar is lowered to changes the area of the muscle that is impacted (inner, outer, upper, lower). Also, using a decline or incline bench will effect different areas of the muscle.
Dumbbell Exercises – free weights can be used to imitate a number of machine and bar exercises. For example, I like to use dumbbells to do incline bench press. They work well for flies, which are a great exercise for stretching the muscle.
Parallel Bar Dips – this one is tough if you have never done it before. With hands placed at shoulders width apart, lower your and raise your body between a set of parallel bars. Widening the hands places more stress on the outer pecs and deltoids.
Pushups – this is another classic yet super effective chest exercise. When you think about it, these simply imitate the bench press but use your bodyweight instead of a bar.
It is agreed upon in the exercise community that a good chest workout routine begins with the heavier weight exercises such as the bench press, works on through dumbbell exercises, and finishes with bodyweight exercises.
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