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Your Best Chest

Working your chest muscles

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Updated May 19, 2008

Chest Physiology
Paige Waehner
Your Chest

Your chest muscles are composed of the pectoralis major and minor. The pectoralis major (see illustration) is the bigger chest muscle and travels from the collar bone to the sternum, attaching to the upper arm. The purpose of this muscle is flexion and adduction of the shoulder as well as inward shoulder rotation. The pectoralis minor is a small triangular muscle located under the pectoralis major and also helps with shoulder flexion, adduction and rotation.

Why Should You Work Your Chest?

Your chest includes some of the largest muscle groups in the upper body. Large muscles can handle more weight, which allows you to burn more calories. In addition, when you work your chest, your shoulders and arms are also involved allowing you to burn even more calories. A chest workout also serves as a great warm up for those smaller muscle groups.

How Often Should You Train Your Chest?

You can perform chest exercises up to 3 non-consecutive days a week. However, if you're lifting heavy weights (enough that you can only complete 6 to 8 repetitions) you'll need at least 2-3 days of rest before you perform the exercises again. For this reason, you may only work your chest once or twice a week. If you're goal is to tone your muscles, you'll want to stick with one to three sets of 12-16 repetitions and at least one day of rest before you perform the exercises again.

What Exercises Should You Do?

Some of the most common chest exercises include pushups, chest presses, and chest flies. Choose a mixture of different exercises to target your chest from a variety of directions and make sure you vary your routine every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus. For some ideas, check out these chest exercises.

Next page: Chest Exercises

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