How to Tone and Strengthen the Outer Chest

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The chest is made up of the pectoral muscles known as the pectoralis major and minor. The more prominent one is the pectoralis major, that covers up the pectoralis minor and occupies the outer chest. It is composed of two parts, the clavicular head and the sternal head, that spreads out like a fan across the chest wall. This fan-like structure of the pectoralis major contributes to a variety of anatomical movements which includes flexion, adduction, and internal rotation of the arms. It also helps in elevating the rib cage, with fixed arms and scapula, which is a motion that is made possible when we push, climb, or throw something. The pectoralis major becomes a noticeable protruding chest muscle when it is well developed -- a physique commonly seen on body builders. Here are some effective exercises to help tone and strengthen your outer chest or your pectoralis major muscle.

Things You'll Need

  • Weight bar and flat barbell weights
  • Inclined bench
  • Declined bench
  • Dumbells

Inclined Bench Press Exercise

  • Prepare the appropriate load that you are to attach to your weight bar. For beginners, you can start by just lifting the weight bar, since this alone weighs 20 to 25 pounds. You can increase the heaviness with flat barbell weights later on when your muscles are strong enough to handle it.

  • Adjust the back rest of the exercise bench to an inclined position, angled 30 to 45 degrees.

  • Lie on the inclined bench with your head, back, and buttocks firmly placed on the back rest and seat of the bench

  • Widen the distance between your legs, with your feet firmly flat on the floor for a more stable base of support

  • Keep your position upright by pressing your shoulders on the back rest so that your chest is lifted up

  • Grasp the barbell with a firm grip and hands spaced 3 to 4 inches wider than shoulder width

  • Carefully lift the barbell off the rack without bouncing it

  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell down a few inches above your clavicle or below the frontal neck area. Since your position is inclined, avoid resting the bar on the upper chest -- this will only put a lot of pressure on the shoulder joints and will also redirect the target of the exercise away from the outer chest muscles. So again, just lower the barbell on the area of the collar bone (clavicle).

  • Exhale as you carefully push the barbell upward. Contract your abdominal and back muscles as you raise the barbell up to provide additional support in lifting the weight

  • Repeat the sequence as many times as you can tolerate doing so and relax

Declined Bench Press Exercise

  • Set up the loads that you are to attach to the weight bar. Beginners must start with light weight barbells in order to avoid muscle strain. Lifting the weight bar alone will do for the first few times, and then flat barbell weights can be added later on when the muscles are strong enough to handle it.

  • Adjust the bench by declining its back rest or angled down to about 30 to 45 degrees

  • Lie on the declined bench with your head, back, and buttocks firmly placed on its back rest

  • Secure your position by placing both your legs on the leg rest and hooking both your feet on the foot rest of the exercise bench

  • Maintain an upright position by pressing your shoulders on the back rest so that your chest is lifted up

  • Grasp the barbell with a firm grip and hands spaced 3 to 4 inches wider than shoulder width.

  • Lift the barbell carefully off the rack without bouncing it

  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell a few inches above your upper chest. Since your position is angled down, lowering the barbell above the upper chest area, will not cause unwanted pressure on the shoulders. And the target of the exercise will remain centered on the outer chest muscle (pectoralis major).

  • Exhale as you push the barbell upwards. Contract your abdominal and back muscles as you raise the weight up to provide additional support when lifting.

  • Perform this procedure as many times as you can and relax

Inclined Bench Dumbell Flyes

  • Prepare the appropriate dumbbell weights that you are to use for this exercise. It is advisable to start with light weight dumbbells until muscles are strong enough to handle heavier ones.

  • Adjust the back rest of the bench to an inclined position, angled 30 to 45 degrees

  • Lie on the inclined bench with your head, back, and buttocks firmly placed on its beck rest and seat

  • Keep your position upright by pressing your shoulders on the back rest so that your chest is lifted up

  • Position your arms on the sides of your body and let your exercise trainer hand you two dumbbells for each hands

  • Grasp your dumbbells with a firm grip. When gripping the dumbbell, both your palms should be rotated inward, so that it will be facing each other.

  • Inhale as you slowly open your arms wide to lower the dumbbells as low as you can. Form an imaginary arc at the top of your chest area as you open your arms wide and make sure to slightly flex your elbows as lower the weight.

  • Exhale as you lift the dumbbells straight up above your chest following the same arc and take a second to squeeze your pectoral muscles together before lowering the dumbbells again; arms should be straightened when doing this motion.

  • Repeat this exercise as many times as you can and relax

Push Ups

  • Lie facing the floor with your whole body straightened

  • Position your arms and legs, so that your palms and toes are rested on the floor, which serve as your bases of support.

  • Press your hand against the floor and extend your arms to raise your body up as high as you can. Keep your back straight, head neutral, and legs extended.

  • Flex your elbows and lower your body down to the ground

  • Repeat the sequence with some rhythmic breathing. Inhale as your body is lowered and exhale as you push your body upwards.

  • Perform this procedure as many times as you can and relax

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your back straight when performing all of these exercises.
  • It is advisable to have an exercise trainer watch over you as you do these exercises to prevent injuries from happening.
  • Do not bounce when lifting a load. Make your movements rhythmic and controlled to avoid straining your muscles.
  • If there is continuous popping, accompanied with pain (at the shoudler joint) when weight is lifted or applied, discontinue the exercise and contact your doctor right away.

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  • Photo Credit Creative Commons License, by: EUSKALANATO, copyright Nov.2007, Creative Commons License, by: VanRijn, copyright Dec.2007, Creative Commons license, by: Equipment first, copyright April 2008, Creative Commons License, by: Jeff Atlanta, copyright April 2007, Creative Commons License, by: whyld march 2008
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