Chest Workout Part 3: Three must-try exercises to strengthen and sculpt your inner chest

Strengthen the chest involves generally strengthening the muscles of the arms-shoulders-chest area together.

Myupchar December 23, 2019 16:25:42 IST
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Chest Workout Part 3: Three must-try exercises to strengthen and sculpt your inner chest

Arguably the hardest muscles to train, chest muscles can be divvied up in different ways for a better workout. There is, of course, the division between the major (pectoralis major) and minor (pectoralis minor) muscles of the chest - the minor is a thin sliver that lies just beneath the major chest muscle and extends from the third, fourth and fifth ribs to the shoulder blade.

For the purposes of toning muscle and bulking up, however, trainers have found it especially useful to look at the chest as the sum of three different parts: upper, lower and inner chest. This division serves two purposes. One, it allows you to use the same movements at different angles for optimum results. And two, it allows you to develop the entire chest rather than focus too deeply on just one part.

The inner chest is the central section closest to your sternum or breastbone. Developing this area is important to get a sharp definition in the chest muscle. So if you are looking to add more tees to your wardrobe in the new year, it’s important to train beyond the “one-pec exercise” routine and focus periodically on the inner chest, too.

Chest Workout Part 3 Three musttry exercises to strengthen and sculpt your inner chest

Arguably the hardest muscles to train, chest muscles can be divvied up in different ways for a better workout.

Before you begin, though, try to do these exercises with a trained instructor who can check your form and advise you on how to increase the weights in a manner that’s best for you - this is crucial for building just the right amount of resistance to strengthen your muscles.

Also, remember to warm up for at least five minutes - longer in the wintertime and if you exercise early in the morning - before you start any weight-training. Make sure you also do mobility exercises for the whole body, but especially the shoulders, arms, wrists and back.

One more thing to keep in mind: Perform these exercises at a gap of three to four days after a lower-chest workout, so that your chest gets adequate rest in-between. This is especially important if your fitness goal is to bulk up.

1. The Basic Push-up

Push-ups are a simple yet effective exercise to work on your upper body and to increase core strength. Maintaining the correct form is absolutely crucial here. If you are a beginner and you find push-ups hard, start by holding the plank position. When you can hold a push-up plank (with arms fully extended) for a minute or more, move on to knee push-ups (place your knees on the mat). Once you are confident that you can do the exercise without rounding or arching your back, try the full push-up - slowly increase the repetitions.

Equipment required: None

Sets & reps: Three sets of 15 reps each

Intensity: Low to medium (beginner to experienced trainee)

How to do it

  • Lie down on a mat, face towards the floor.
  • Place your palms on the mat next to your shoulders. Your hands should be slightly wider than your collarbones.
  • Keeping your legs straight, extend your elbows to bring your body into the plank position. Make sure you don’t lock your elbows and knees, and your body is in one straight line from head to heels.
  • Slowly go down by bending the elbows until your chest is almost touching the mat.
  • Now slowly push your chest away from the ground by extending the elbows. This is one rep.
  • Beginners can find this a bit hard: try to do eight repetitions to start and then slowly increase the repetitions to 15 per set.

2a. Flat Bench Press

It’s impossible to strengthen the chest without working on the arms-shoulders-chest together. This exercise allows the arms to push with more power to train the whole chest region. Flat-bench exercises (where there’s no incline or decline) define bigger pec major and stronger pec minor muscles.

Equipment required: A flat bench, a 16-inch barbell rod, weights as per your skill and comfort-level

Sets & reps: First set 15 reps, second set 12 reps, third set 10 reps

Intensity: Moderate (experienced to professional)

How to do it

  • Lie down on a flat bench, face towards the ceiling.
  • Hold the barbell rod with an overhand grip, with your hands shoulder-width apart. Don’t bend your wrists: they should be in line with the forearms throughout this exercise.
  • Pull your belly button in and push the barbell up by extending your arms.
  • Now, bring the barbell down slowly with a controlled movement until it touches the chest. This is one rep.
  • Pause for a few seconds before pushing the barbell up again.
  • Make sure you check your posture periodically. You should be feeling the pressure on your chest and a little bit on your arms only.

Tip: Keep a tight grip on the bar at each movement.

2b. Flat Dumbbell Press

Instead of using a barbell rod, you can also target the chest muscles with dumbbell presses on the bench.

Equipment required: A flat bench or a 32-inch-broad flat table, a pair of dumbbells

Sets & reps: First set 15 reps, second set 12 reps, third set 10 reps

Intensity: Moderate (experienced to professional)

How to do it

  • Lie down on a flat bench facing upward.
  • Now hold the dumbbells about an inch above the shoulders with an overhand grip.
  • Push the arms straight up, making sure your wrists are in line with the arms and not bent forward or back. You should not be feeling any pressure on the wrists.
  • Bend your elbows to bring your arms straight down. This is one rep.

Tip: Try to create a contraction in the middle chest region as you push the weights up and then slowly bring them down again.

3a. Machine Fly

Also known as the chest fly and butterfly, this exercise is performed on a machine which is specially designed to train chest muscles (also known as pecs). This movement also strengthens the torso and deltoids muscles of your shoulder.

Equipment required: Pec fly machine

Sets & reps: First set 15 reps, second set 12 reps, third set 10 reps

Intensity: Low (beginner)

How to do it

  • Set the weight as per your comfort and skill.
  • Sit on the platform with your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Hold the handles in each hand.
  • Bring your arms together in front of your collarbone (slightly down) with a slow movement. Keep the elbows slightly bent.
  • Pause for a few seconds and then go slowly go back.
  • Keep the torso straight throughout. This is one rep.

Tip: Ask someone for the correct measurement of the machine’s handle and seat height because there are different types of machines available in the market and at the gym.

3b. Chest fly with resistance bands

An alternative for the machine fly, you can do the resistance-band fly anywhere: at home, in a hotel and even in a park. The benefits are almost comparable to cable-cross over (see part 2 in this series).

Equipment required: Two resistance bands.

Sets & reps: First set 15 reps, second set 12 reps, third set 10 reps

Intensity: Low (beginner)

How to do it

  • Take two resistance bands and tie them to a pillar or a machine that is welded to the floor. If you are working out in a park, you could also tie the bands to one of the poles of a slide or monkey bar. Make sure that you’ve tied the bands at shoulder height, and that they are secure.
  • Turn your back to the pole and grab the loose ends of the bands in each hand. Now, go forward till you feel a tension in your arms and chest muscles, from the resistance bands straining slightly.
  • Check your grip: Your arms should be fully open as if you are about to give someone a massive hug. Relax your shoulders.
  • Now, bring your arms forward, directly in front of your chest.
  • Slowly take the arms back to form a “T” with your body. This is one rep.

For more information, please read our article on How to Get a Bigger Chest.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

This is the final article in a three-part series. Read our first two articles on upper-chest workout and lower-chest workout, along with this, for tips on getting a complete chest workout.

Updated Date:

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