The two primary chest muscles -- pectoralis major and pectoralis minor -- are responsible for moving your arms inward as well as in different directions across your body. When it comes to building these muscles, the tendency is to do an endless number of bench presses, which overdevelops the lower region of your pecs. The result is the appearance of a well built but saggy chest. By including upright pectoral squeeze exercises in your chest workout, you target other areas of your chest to achieve muscular balance. These exercises can be performed with different types of resistance – machine, cables, free weights and elastic bands.
Butterflies and Machines
As an effective and safe isolation exercise for your pecs, the fly can be performed with a pec-deck machine. The exercise resembles a pair of butterfly wings flapping in slow motion. Once you draw your arms together in the fly, squeeze your pectoral muscles at the end of the range of movement. Begin by sitting upright in a pec-deck station, positioning your back against the seat. Put your elbows and forearms on the padded levers. Your elbows should be flared and pointing to your sides. Exhale and draw your elbows together in a arcing movement. When your elbows meet in front of your trunk, squeeze your pecs. Inhale and slowly return to starting position. Perform eight to 12 reps for three sets. Avoid pushing the levers with your hands as well as jerky movement to complete the exercise.
The Convenience of Elastic
If you can’t get to the gym, use elastic bands to perform flyes at home. A key advantage is that the band’s resistance is greatest at the end of the range of motion, or the point at which you squeeze your pecs. In contrast, free weights put more stress on muscles at the beginning of the exercise. Begin by looping the band around a stationary object, such as a door, at shoulder level. Stand facing away from the anchor point at a distance in which the band is taut. Assume a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other. Grab the ends of the band with arms extended to your sides but elbows soft. Exhale and draw your hands together in front of your chest with a sweeping movement. When your hands meet, squeeze your pecs and then return to starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 reps.
The cable crossover is another isolation exercise that builds your pecs and is performed in an upright position. Bodybuilders use crossovers towards the end of a workout to further define the striations in their pectorals. Start by attaching handles to the high pulleys of a cable machine. Stand in the center of the machine with a staggered stance and knees slightly bent. Grab the handles with a neutral grip, palms facing each other, keeping your elbows soft. Lean forward and shift your weight to your lead foot, which will help you maintain stability. Exhale and slowly bring the handles to the front of your chest, squeezing your pecs as your hands come together.
Don’t Move, Squeeze
Because you don’t need equipment or a special space, isometric exercises for your chest muscles are not only convenient but effective. For example, stand upright in a doorway with feet shoulder-width apart and face one side of a door jamb. Keeping your knees slightly bent, place the palms of the hands on either side of the wall at chest level so they face each other with only the wall between them. Your fingers should be pointing up and elbows bent and flared to the sides. Press your palms against the walls and contract your pectorals for five seconds. Release and then repeat the exercise five times.
- 101 Workouts: Build Muscle, Lose Fat & Reach Your Fitness Goals Faster; Michael Berg
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- The Belly Off! Workouts: A 6-Week Detox Diet and Fitness Plan That Strips Away Fat—Fast!; Jeff Csatari, David Jack, Editors of Men’s Health
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- Men's Health The Body You Want in the Time You Have: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Leaner…; Myatt Murphy
- The Men’s Health Home Workout Bible; Lou Schuler, Michael Mejia
- Weight Training for Women: Step-by-Step Exercises for Weight Loss, Body Shaping, and Good Health; Leah Garcia
- Simplyshredded.com: Top 5 Chest-Training Mistakes & How To Correct Them
- MuscleMagFitness.com: Pec Deck Butterfly Fly
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