If you want to build your muscles and enjoy the benefits of a toned and healthy-looking physique, one area that needs particular attention is the chest. After the biceps, this is the area of the body that most people look to for evidence of muscle strength. Having a well-built chest will also has many benefits for other parts of your body. The arms in particular will be better able to develop if the chest muscles that are supporting them are strong and powerful. By practising the chest exercises below, you will be able to increase the size of your pecs (pectoral muscles), and have more strength to support your biceps as well.(image source: www.healthydunia.com)
The muscles in your chest
There are two muscles in your chest, the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The larger of the two is the major, at the front of the chest, and it is shaped a bit like a fan. It is connected to the chest bone, the clavicle (collarbone) and the humerus (the bone in the upper arm). The pectoralis major is used for flexing and extending the upper arm, as well as bringing the arm closer in to the chest or rotating it inwards. The triangular-shaped pectoralis minor sit under the major, and is used for for keeping the movements of the shoulder blades stable. Combined, these two muscles provide support for many other muscles, therefore targeted training of the chest can have a significant impact on your overall body strength and fitness.
Great exercises for building muscle in your chest
On the whole, free weights are the best for chest exercises, although you may find machines that have been designed with some of these exercises in mind.
Barbell and dumbbell bench presses
The barbell bench press is the classic exercise for building chest muscles. Lie on your back on a standard weight bench and, keeping your head and back on the bench at all times, lift the barbell from the rack and slowly bring it down to – but not touching – your chest. Pause for a moment, then with your feet firmly on the ground, raise the bar up. Try not to lock your elbows at the top, and repeat. As an alternative, you can use dumbbells instead of a barbell, which actually follow the intended function of the pectoral muscles more closely.
Explosive push ups
This is a more rapid exercise that is good to use as a regular alternative to bench press exercises. Start by going down on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder width apart, and lower your chest to the floor by flexing your arms. The explosive element comes in when you push against the floor, hard enough that your hands leave the ground. You can make this tougher, by trying to lift high enough that you can clap your hands before coming back down.
Incline and decline bench presses
Very similar to the barbell bench press, but with the bench at an incline position, you are better able to exercise the top of your chest, as well as the shoulder muscles. The decline bench press puts more emphasis on the lower chest muscles. With both, try not to let your arms drift too far away from the body so you don’t put too much pressure on your shoulder joints.