Exercises for the Pectoralis Major & Anterior Deltoids

Bench presses are a multi-joint exercise that works your pecs and deltoids.
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Well-developed pecs look great whether you're a man or a woman, but it's not just cosmetic. Because they are involved is so many shoulder movements, strong pecs are important for your everyday activities, including heavy lifting. Also, because of the shoulder connection, most pec exercises involve the anterior, or front, deltoids as assisters. The opposite is also true in some cases; certain exercises that target the anterior deltoids also work pec muscles but not all of them.

Pushups and Presses

Pushups and presses involve similar moves with one using your body weight and the other using a barbell or dumbbells for resistance. To focus on your pectoralis major, as opposed to the triceps at the backs of your arms, your hands should be a little more than shoulder-width apart for the pushup. For the press, your hands will be directly above your elbows when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Both of these exercises focus on the sternal, or lower, pecs -- the ones on either side of your breast bone -- and are assisted by the clavicular, or upper, pecs -- under your collar bone -- and your anterior deltoids. Inclined presses and declined pushups focus more on the upper pecs but still work the front deltoids.


Flys, whether done lying flat on a bench or standing with a bilateral cable machine also target the lower pecs with assistance from the upper pecs and anterior deltoids. However, standing flys involve many more assister muscles, including the rhomboids and lats of your back. Consequently, they don't work your anterior deltoids quite as much.

Delt-Focused Exercises

Overhead presses, such as the military press that starts with the barbell in front of your chest or the dumbbell shoulder press that starts with your hands positioned over your elbows, focus on your anterior deltoids with assistance from your lateral, or side, deltoids. Your pecs are involved, but it's only your upper pecs. The upper pecs are also involved in front raises, even more than with overhead presses.

Posterior Deltoids

You may have noticed that none of these exercises works your posterior, or back, deltoids. These muscles already tend to be weak due to lifestyles that involve hunching over a desk or laptop most of the day. Neglecting them while working your pecs and anterior deltoids will lead to rounded shoulders and a jutting neck. Exercises that strengthen the posterior deltoids include reverse flys and the rear delt row.

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