Pectoral Major is the most trained and least understood muscle group. It's not a coincidence that the first day of the week Monday, is international chest day at almost every gym in the world but do we really understand the chest muscle and are we hitting the right spots when working on it? Let's dive deeper into the pecks and how to make the most out of your chest workout.
The chest can be divided into three muscle groups. The Pectorals Major is the one that is the most important and is made up of two primary sections the Clavicular head which includes the upper chest and the sternal head which includes the middle and the lower chest. The third section is the abdominal head which is not located exactly on your chest but on the rectus sheath (abdominal muscle) just below the chest.
The second group is the Pectoral Minor which is a very small muscle group just beneath the pectoral major.
The third group is Serratus Anterior which is again a very small muscle group which is starts on inside of the shoulder blade and wraps itself around the upper torso. The second and the third groups are not very significant muscle groups but are crucial to getting well-developed physique because they also affect the muscles around the chest like shoulders and back.
Let's isolate each muscle group and see how we can work on each.
- Plec major :
Upper Chest (Clavicular Head): The upper chest can be isolated by doing any exercise that moves your arms upwards, for example, an inclined dumbbell press or incline barbell press. Keep the incline to about 30-45º and make sure you’re not lifting your gluteal muscles. Lower the dumbbells to somewhere around your collarbone. The amount of weight and reps depends on the kind of physique you’re going for.
Middle and Lower Chest (Sternal Head): The middle and the lower chest is isolated by doing exercises like a decline bench press or a pullover. To do pullovers lie down on a straight bench and grab the dumbbell from its head with your palms facing outwards in a diamond shape. Start the movement with the dumbbell over your chest with your elbows bent 10-15º. Slowly lower the weight backward over your head until the upper arms are in line with the torso parallel to the floor.
- Serratus Anterior :
This muscle group is a very small group but is imperative to a healthy looking chest back and shoulders. For training the Serratus Anterior we shall go to the most fundamental exercise the push-up. The pushup is not only a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups but is also a crucial part of building the chest. There are multiple variations of the push-up but the good news is that all these variations will always work on the chest muscle. Working on the Serratus Anterior will not only ensure a healthy chest but will also work on giving you healthy shoulders.
- Abdominal Head :
The abdominal head is an important muscle group to train for people with a high body fat level or men with gynecomastia. The best way to target this group is by doing exercises that involve your hands pushing down. Exercises like dips and jackhammer pushdowns will be ideal.
Now no chest workout article can be complete without talking about the pectoral fly’s. One of the most loved chest exercises can affect the entire chest muscle and there are multiple variations of that.
Regular place fly on the fly machine: This one is pretty self-explanatory
Low to mid fly: Works the lower chest
One arm cable fly: Works on left or right chest
Cable crossover: The angle of your body can isolate different parts of your chest.
A secret to a good body is not only in the workout but one's diet plays a major role. So eat healthily and go train those pecks.