One of the most noticeable parts of the body, the chest is responsible for many arm movements such as throwing, pushing, and hitting. A strong, well-defined chest is the hallmark of a great training program. The major chest muscles are the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. These strong muscles move the arms across the body and toward the waist. The pecs allow for several different movements, and there are several different ways to strengthen them.
All pressing movements require your pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoids to play a role in the movement. So trying to isolate your pecs is not always easy. That also means that grouping exercises together to prevent overtraining will be an important part of your workout week. If you really want great upper body development, you will need to use both the pressing movements and the isolated pec exercises found in this chapter.
The main lift, and perhaps the single most practiced exercise, is the bench press. No other exercise is more heralded than this spectacle of strength and prowess. The bench press works not only the pecs but also several other muscles. In addition to developing the chest, the bench press helps develop many of the muscles that act on the shoulder joint, including the anterior deltoid and the triceps.
The motion of the bench press resembles an upside-down push-up. This exercise requires a great deal of concentration and arm coordination. Though the free weight version of the bench press is described here, some gyms may have a machine bench press option. It is important that you follow proper technique and start with a weight you can handle.
1. Lie on the weight bench. Grab the bar, hands shoulder-width or a little wider apart. Keep your feet on the floor. Keep your shoulders, buttocks, and head against the bench at all times. To relieve the pressure on your lower back, it should have a slight arch. You should be able to slide your hand under your lower back.
2. Inhale deeply, and remove the bar from the rack. Pause for two counts, then begin to lower the weight toward your chest.