Pectoralis major, the fan-shaped chest muscle, is responsible for arm adduction, meaning moving your elbows closer to the center of the body. It’s going to be the prime mover in most pushing exercises.
Wide Grip Push Up
All push up variations work the chest, tricep, and anterior deltoid in some way. Close grip favors the tricep and anterior deltoid since the humerus stays close to the body throughout the movement, shoulder width grip will work all three with chest being the prime mover, and wide grip will put the chest under a greater stretch at the bottom of the movement. Once you have mastered the exercise, you can increase the difficulty by elevating the feet, shifting more of your bodyweight toward the chest. It’s also possible to increase resistance with resistance bands, weighted vest, or just putting a plate on your back.
- Get on your hands and knees with hands placed wider than shoulder width
- Extend your legs so that your hands and feet now support your body weight
- Keep the core tight and hips in line with the rest of the body
- Don’t flare your elbows as that will put your shoulders in a compromised position
- Lower the chest to the floor
- Push up back to starting position
Cable Chest Press
The chest press mimics the push up movement. The benefit of this exercise is the ability to adjust the weight. This makes it a good exercise for those cannot yet perform a push up or for those who want to load the chest with more weight than a standard push up.
- Position the cables at shoulder width and chest height
- Hold the cable handle with pronated grip with the fists facing down at 45 degree angle
- Push down and in until the arms are almost fully extended
- Return to starting position
While the bench press is likely the most popular exercise for training the chest, it may not necessarily be the best. Safety is a concern as shoulder injuries are common. Maintaining proper form is a challenge with many different opinions on the best way to perform it. Nevertheless, it’s probably the most convenient exercise for loading the chest with heavy weight.
- Lie down on a bench with the barbell resting above the eyes
- Grip the barbell with pronated grip, wider than shoulder width apart
- Plant your feet on the floor, squeeze your glutes, and retract your shoulder blades
- Lift the barbell out of the rack and hold it directly over the shoulders
- Lower the barbell down to the chest
- It’s valid to stop a couple of inches above the chest to avoid overextending the shoulder
- Push the bar back up