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By having a stronger comprehension of the proper biomechanics of the pectoralis muscles, as well as correct methods in which to stretch this muscle, you can successfully design a program in which you can optimize your pectoralis muscle potential.

By: Patrick Gamboa

Few body parts can rival the attention drawing power of the chest. A muscular, well-developed chest is one of the distinguishing characteristics attributed to the western image of the ideal male.We will continue our series on utilizing proper biomechanics as a means to optimizing your own developmental potential. This month we will focus on the pectoralis muscle.

The chest is comprised of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.The pectoralis major muscle aids the serratus anterior muscle in drawing the scapula forward as it moves the humerus in flexion and internal rotation. The pectoralis minor muscle is used in true abduction (protraction) without rotation along with the serratus anterior muscle. The pectoralis minor is most used in depressing and rotating the scapula downward from an upwardly rotated position. This is best accomplished by raising the body a few inches higher in the top position of bar dips. The pectoralis major is used powerfully in push-ups and pull-ups. It works closely together with the anterior deltoid and as a helper of the latissimus dorsi muscle when extending and adducting the humerus from a raised position.

The Biomechanics Of The Chest

Muscle Origin Insertion Action Innervation
Pectoralis minor Anterior surfaces 3rd to 5th ribs Coracoid process of scapula (protraction) draws scapula forward (downward rotation) (depression)

Medial pectoral nerve (C8-T1)
Pectoralis major Clavicular: medial half of anterior surface of clavicle

Sternal: anterior surfaces of costal cartilage of first 6 ribs and adjacent portion of sternum

Clavicular: flat tendon 2or 3 inches wide to the outer lip of intertubercular

Sternal: groove of humerus

Clavicular: internal rotation, horizontal adduction, flexion abduction, and adduction (when the arm is 90˚ of abduction of the glenohumeral joint

Sternal: internal rotation, horizontal adduction, extension, and adduction of the glenohumeral joint

Clavicular: lateral pectoral nerve (C5-7)

Sternal: medial pectoral nerve (C8, T1)


Learn All About The Anatomy Of The Chest, Click Here!

Chest Exercises For A Well-Developed Chest


Dumbbell Flat Bench Chest Press - View Exercise

    Proper Position:

    • Lie on a flat bench in a supine position.
    • Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum firmly on the bench.
    • Maintain a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Grasp the dumbbells with a pronated grip.
    • With the shoulders in 90 degree of flexion and the elbows extended, hold the dumbbells perpendicular to the body (starting position).

    Technique:

    • Begin by slowly lowering the weight down and out initiating elbow flexion.
    • Continue to lower the dumbbells until the lower arms are parallel to the floor and lateral at a 90 degree angle to the body.
    • The dumbbells should be directly over the hands.
    • In a controlled manner, press the dumbbells up by contracting the pectoralis major to the starting position.

    Essential Tips:

    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum on the bench while maintaining a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Keep the feet planted firmly during execution.
    • Keep the wrists rigid.
    • Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement.


Dumbbell Incline Bench Chest Press - View Exercise

    Proper Position:

    • Lie on an incline bench in a supine position.
    • Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum firmly on the bench.
    • Maintain a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Grasp the dumbbells with a pronated grip.
    • With the shoulders in 90 degree of flexion and the elbows extended, hold the dumbbells perpendicular to the body (starting position).

    Technique:

    • Begin by slowly lowering the weight down and out initiating elbow flexion.
    • Continue to lower the dumbbells until they reach clavicle level and the lower arms are parallel to the floor.
    • The dumbbells should be directly over the hands.
    • In a controlled manner, press the dumbbells up by contracting the pectoralis major to the starting position.

    Essential Tips:

    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum on the bench while maintaining a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Keep the feet planted firmly during execution.
    • Keep the wrists rigid.
    • Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement.


Barbell Incline Bench Chest Press - View Exercise

    Proper Position:

    • Lie on an incline bench in a supine position.
    • Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum firmly on the bench.
    • Maintain a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Grasp the bar with a pronated grip.
    • Place the hands approximately 6-inches wider than shoulder width.

    Technique:

    • Begin by slowly lowering the weight down and out initiating elbow flexion.
    • Continue to lower the bar until they reach clavicle level and the lower arms are parallel to the floor.
    • The barbell should be directly over the hands.
    • In a controlled manner, press the bar up by contracting the pectoralis major to the starting position.

    Essential Tips:

    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum on the bench while maintaining a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Keep the feet planted firmly during execution.

    • Keep the wrists rigid.

    • Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement.


Barbell Flat Bench Chest Press - View Exercise

    Proper Position:

    • Lie on a flat bench in a supine position.
    • Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum firmly on the bench.
    • Maintain a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Grasp the dumbbells with a pronated grip.
    • Place the hands approximately 6-inches wider than shoulder width.

    Technique:

    • Begin by slowly lowering the weight down and out initiating elbow flexion.
    • Continue to lower the bar until the lower arms are parallel to the floor and lateral at a 90 degree angle to the body.
    • The bar should be directly over the hands.
    • In a controlled manner, press the dumbbells up by contracting the pectoralis major to the starting position.

    Essential Tips:

    • Place the head, shoulder blades, and sacrum on the bench while maintaining a natural arch in the lower back.
    • Keep the feet planted firmly during execution.
    • Keep the wrists rigid.
    • Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement.


Bar Dips - View Exercise

    Proper Positioning:

    • With the feet placed firmly on the supporting cross bars, grasp the dip bars.
    • With the palms facing in and the elbows in extension (pointing directly back), position the body directly between the bars so that the arms are holding the body erect.
    • Once the arms are in full support of the body, step off of the support bars.
    • (OPTIONAL) If needed, flex the knees 90˚ to bring the lower legs to a position that is parallel to the floor.
    • Keep your head in a natural position.

    Technique:

    • Slowly lower the body in a controlled manner through elbow flexion.
    • Continue to lower the body to the point were your upper arms are at approximately a 90 degree angle with your forearms and parallel with the dip bars.
    • Contract the triceps initiating elbow extension while keeping the elbows pointed directly back and tucked into the sides of the body.
    • Continue to contract back to the starting position.

    Essential Tips:

    • Keep the elbows pointed back and tucked into the sides of the
    • Keep the wrists in a flexed position.
    • Lean forward (switch emphasis to pectoralis major).

Another Key Point

Another important and often neglected aspect in optimizing your pectoralis development is the incorporation of proper stretching into your program design. The pectoralis major can be stretched by externally rotating the shoulder with the arm at the side in adduction. Additionally, if you place the shoulder in full extension it will stretch the clavicular pectoralis major, while full abduction stretches the lower pectoralis major. Lying in a supine position with a towel rolled behind your thoracic spine while a trainer pushes each scapula into retraction can stretch the pectoralis minor.

By having a stronger comprehension of the proper biomechanics of the pectoralis muscles, as well as correct methods in which to stretch this muscle, you can successfully design a program in which you can optimize your pectoralis muscle potential. Preparation, persistence and hard work will help you reach your potential. Until next month, train hard and continue to live the fitness lifestyle.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, please contact patrick@issaonline.com.

Thanks,

Patrick Gamboa

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