Before I explain you the pectoral (pec) workout, it is important to understand the anatomy of these muscles.
The pectoral muscles are a group of two primary muscles situated at the front of the chest. The pectoralis major muscle is a large, fan-shaped muscle, which originates from the sternum (breastbone), ribs and collarbone, and attaches to the upper arm bone (humerus).
The pectoralis minor is the small muscle originating from the front of the ribs and attaching to a bony process at the front of the shoulder blade.
Your chest plays an important role in your upper body strength. If your pectoral muscles are strong, you can improve your posture. Well, many of you might not know the fact that a strong chest directly strengthens your back muscles.
Apart from the physical benefits, pectoral muscles also provide aesthetic benefits. The pec muscle is also involved in moving the rib cage during deep breathing.
Now that I have listed a few important benefits of having strong pecs, why don’t you get out of your comfort and put your mind and body to effective use with these chest workouts?
#1 Wide Grip Push Ups
Personally, I’m a big fan of this exercise as it makes use of your body weight to hit those pecs. This is done exactly like a traditional push-up, the only difference being the position of your hands. It is a great exercise to improve the strength of your upper body.
Step 1: Get down on your hands and legs (plank position) and position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Now bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the floor as low as possible. Pause for 1-2 seconds.
Step 3: Then come back to the starting position by extending your elbows and pushing yourself up.
Important Tips: Do three sets of 14-20 reps each. The farther you put your hands out the greater the efficiency and challenge for your chest. This version puts more strain on your chest muscles so drop to your knees if your form starts to slide.
Next Up: Decline Push Ups
#2 Decline Push Ups
The decline push up is a more difficult version of the basic push up. The level of difficulty is increased, as you place your feet at a higher level than your hands. This chest exercise can be done at home and it effectively targets the upper chest region.
Step 1: Set yourself in a push-up position with your toes up on a chair or a bench. Your hands should be wider than the shoulders.
Step 2: Now lower your body downward as you inhale until the chest almost touches the ground.
Step 3: Next, breathe out and bring your upper body back to the starting position while squeezing your chest.
Important Tips: Do 3 sets of 17 reps each. The higher the elevation of your feet the more difficult the push-up and this helps in targeting the upper pecs. You can squeeze and tighten your butt to keep the lower back in position.
Next Up: Barbell Bench Press
#3 Barbell Bench Press
The bench press builds the pec major. It also develops strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. In my opinion, it is one of those exercises that you cannot miss.
Step 1: Position yourself with your back down on a flat bench placing the hands up on the bar using an underhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Now extend the elbows and lift the bar until elbows are extended but not locked. Pause for 1-2 seconds as you fully extend your breath.
Step 3: Lower the weight directly down to the chest as you breathe inwards, keeping the movement pattern slow and steady.
Important Tips: Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each. Do not push the head back against the bench. Avoid over-arching the lower back and lifting the hips off the bench.
Next Up: Incline Dumbbell Fly
#4 Incline Dumbbell Fly
The incline dumbbell fly is an isolation exercise. The incline position puts more emphasis on the upper chest and it also strengthens the shoulders as well. I have opted for this instead of the flat bench dumbbell fly, because it prevents the common mistake of back bending.
Step 1: Grasp two dumbbells in an overhand grip while seated on the edge of the incline bench (45 degrees).
Step 2: Carefully lie on the incline bench, bringing the dumbbells to the sides of your torso at chest level. Feet should be planted firmly on the floor.
Step 3: Slowly lower your arms out to the side of your body with your arms at right angles. The dumbbells should be slowly lowered towards the floor until your chest is comfortably stretched.
Step 4: Now bring your arms near the chest to the starting position.
Important Tips: Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps each. The elbows should be slightly bent throughout the whole movement and this should be followed from start to finish.
Next Up: Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
#5 Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
The flat bench dumbbell press is a personal favourite because of its effectiveness. The dumbbells allow a greater range of movement and activate numerous stabilizing muscles. It should be noted that dumbbells are harder to control than a barbell so it helps to strengthen the lower pecs.
Step 1: Lie on a flat bench with your elbows bent holding the dumbbells with an overhand grip (elbows facing upwards) beside the chest on the sides.
Step 2: Now straighten your elbows out at your sides to raise the weights upwards by both hands (your upper arm and forearm creating a 90-degree angle.)
Step 3: Bend your elbows out at your sides to lower the weights down and come to the starting position.
Important Tips: Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps. This exercise can be performed in an incline as well as a decline position. Avoid pushing the head back against the bench and lifting the hips.