There is no denying the fact that muscles get attention, especially when they’re big and not covered in fat. A well muscled, well conditioned physique is usually the envy of all who view it. It’s hard to disagree that muscles are cool. Of all the muscles getting the attention at the beach or around the pool, there’s actually a preference, particularly among females, for a formidably built chest. Of all the other muscle groups, it’s the chest that stands out and gets the attention.
There is even research to suggest that women, when given a choice between a male figure with a developed, muscular, chest vs a scintillating set of man boobs, will instinctively prefer the muscular version. This is thought not to be because of sexual desire, but because the muscular chest fosters feelings of safety and protection. The muscular chest indicates the man will be a good hunter, provider, protector. This is what would instinctually attract the female, in order to assure the survival of the species. The girly man clearly looses out.
The chest also represents the metrics which is accepted as the universal measure of strength. When an obviously built individual is asked, “how much can you lift?” the question is almost always referencing the bench press - the most chest-centric movement in weightlifting. There is no question that a sculpted muscular physique starts with the chest - it enters the room first, it is, unequivocally, the mark of a man. But, if you want one, you have to build it, here’s how…
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of building an impressive set of pecs, you should probably understand a bit of the anatomy that encompasses the region. There are four pectoral muscles that make up the human chest. These include the pectorals major, minor, subclavius and the anterior serratus. These muscles connect the bones of the shoulder and upper arm to each side of the sternum.
While the subclavius is indeed important for the biomechanics of the chest, it’s pretty much invisible, no matter how lean the individual. You wouldn’t even see it on Skeletor. The serratus are certainly cool looking - they look like the gills of a shark – but, most lifters associate them with abdominal muscles and not part of the pec structure. The former two muscles are the most visible and the most impressive, particularly the pectorals major and pectoralis Minor.
The pectoralis minor lives under the pectorals major. It looks like a small three pronged fork that originates from the anterior aspect of the scapula and inserts on the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs. Its function is to stabilize the scapula by drawing it forward and down against the wall of the thorax. It is not what is erroneously referred to as the “upper pec.” because it lies under the pec major, you can't see it, but, as it develops, it pushes the pec major out giving it the look of added bulk.
The pectoralis major is the most prominent muscle that makes up the chest. The large, shell shaped, sheet of muscle originates from the upper humorous and inserts both on the medial clavicle (clavicular head) an on the sternum (sternal head). Its function is to adduct, and medially rotate, the upper arm, and draws the scapula forward and down. The clavicular head also acts individually to flex the upper limb, and it helps hold your shoulder down when you have to push down, or out, with your hands. Regardless of what it does, the pec major is the big chest muscle everyone wants.
Quite possibly the best chest that has ever graced the Mr. Olympia stage belonged to Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was absolutely immense. Arnold professed to building it with just two exercises – bench press (either barbell or dumbbell) of varying angles, and flies of varying angles. Of course he's been photographed doing things such as pullovers and dips, but his consistent workouts concentrated on the basics – bench and flies.
The Best Exercises For A Bigger Chest
Flat Barbell Bench Press - This is perhaps the most popular exercise on earth. Also one of the most dangerous. Many a bodybuilder has torn a pec on the bench. So, we can't stress enough the importance of good form. Position yourself under the bar so that it rises just above your nipples. Grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip and make sure your wrists are straight and in line with the bones of your forearm, not stretched backward - if you let that happen, it will cause your elbows to pull forward and put your shoulders in a very dangerous position. Un-rack the bar and bring it down, slowly, until it touches your sternum. Initiate the push upward with your elbows and exhale as you drive the bar up until locked out. Slowly lower the bar and grab another one.
You'll want to do 6 - 8 sets of 8 – 12 reps.
Incline Dumbbell Press - This exercise really focuses on the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. It can build the separation that some confuse as an “upper pec.” Address this exercise with all the precaution and form as with barbell presses. Move slowly and deliberately using a weight that keeps you in good form – no squirming in the bench or wildly arching your back - for 5 sets of 10-12 reps to failure.
Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly - This can be a horrifically dangerous exercise if done sloppily, with too much weight. This is what's known as a “finishing move.” You're not lifting a lot of weight here, but rather deliberately and and with full range of motion, repeatedly contracting your pecs.
Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay back with your arms extended straight up over your chest with the dumbbells touching. Gradually open your arms by pivoting in your shoulder and bending your elbows. Bring the weights down, with your forearm perpendicular to the ground, until your upper arm just breaks parallel. Then, squeeze your chest and drive the dumbbells up with your elbows. Contract your pecs at the top and hold them flexed for one beat, then gradually lower the weights back down for another slow, controlled rep. Do 4 sets of 15 -20 reps to failure.
Done correctly, this workout should torch your chest so badly you'll not be able to move your tongue for the gravies pain. Take it in and enjoy it, you’re on your way to building an impressive chest!