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Introduction to Chest Training


BodybuildingPro.com Exercise Index Chest Introduction to Chest Training

The Muscles of the Chest

(1) The Pectorals: The pectorals consist of two parts, the clavicular (upper) portion and the sternal (lower) portion. The upper part is attached to the clavicle (collar bone). Along the mid - body line, it attaches to the sternum (breast bone) and the cartilage of several ribs. The largest mass of the pectorals starts at the upper arm bone (humerus), fastened at a point under and just above where the deltoids attach to the humerus. The pectorals spread out like a fan and cover the rib cage like armor plates. Attached to the rib cage in the center and across to the shoulder, this muscle lets you perform such motions as pitching a ball underhanded, doing a wide arm bench press, twisting off a bottle cap, swimming the crawl stroke, and doing parallel bar dips. In addition, because of its attachment to the humerus, it plays a large role in movements like chinning. There is, in fact, a prominent interdependence between chest and back muscles. The chest will not reach its full potential size unless the latisimus dorsi muscles of the upper back are fully developed.

Function: To pull the arm and shoulder across the front of the body.

(2) The Subclavius: The subclavius is a small cylindrical muscle between the clavicle and the first rib. Function: To draw the shoulder forward.

(3) The Serratus Anterior: The serratus anterior is a thin, muscular sheet between the ribs and the scapula.

Function: To rotate the scapula, raising the point of the shoulder and drawing the scapula forward and downward.


Training the Chest

Depending on which portion of the chest you are looking to develop, a variety of different exercises will be of help to you:


Upper Chest

Exercises which isolate the upper chest are those which are performed on an incline bench, for the most part. Such exercises include the following:

  • Incline Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Flies
  • Incline Machine Press


Lower Chest

Exercises which isolate the lower chest are those which are performed on an decline bench, for the most part. Such exercises include the following:
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Flies
  • Flat Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Cable Crossovers


Middle Chest

Exercises which isolate the middle (or inner) portions chest are not so easy to classify and can be found in a variety of exercises:
  • Machine Flies (Pec - Deck)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flies
  • Cable Crossovers (but with more emphasis on lower chest)


Inner Chest

Exercises which isolate the inner portions chest are not so easy to classify and can be found in a variety of exercises:
  • Cable Crossovers
  • Flyes
  • Pressing Movements
  • Narrow-Grip Bench Presses


Outer Chest

Exercises which isolate the outer portions chest are not so easy to classify and can be found in a variety of exercises:
  • Flat Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press


Chest Training Tips

When you train your chest with dumbbells, sit at one end of a bench and place both dumbbells on your thighs. From there, roll backwards onto the bench with your arms straight. This will bring the dumbbells to arm's length. To return to your starting point, perform the movment in the opposite way, curling upwards and placing the dumbbells on your thighs, once again. With the help of a spotter, you can have your spotter grab one of the dumbbells and take control of the other one. Dropping weights on the ground can be dangerous to people and damaging to the dumbbells themselves, and should only be done if necessary. If you are going to do this, ensure that no one is around your training area as to prevent injury. The safest way to drop the weights is to do so under control, as best as possible. In other words, bring the weight down as low as you can before dropping them.

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