Well-developed pecs look fabulous in a low-cut dress, but it's those muscles around the collarbone and shoulders that scream sexy in a strapless number. While exercises that target your sternal pecs involve your clavicular pecs as assisters, to specifically target your clavicular pecs, you need to vary these exercises slightly. In the world of fitness, where very little is easy, the good news is that the same exercises target your anterior, or front, deltoids, leaving you to work only on your lateral and posterior delts for gorgeous shoulders.
Whether you're using dumbbells, a barbell or cables, when it comes to targeting your clavicular, or upper, pecs with weights, think incline. While a flat bench press works your total chest and the decline bench targets your sternal pecs, presses and flyes on a bench inclined at about 45 degrees target your smaller clavicular pecs. If gym members frown at you dragging the inclined bench over to the cable machine, another option is standing flyes, pulling the weight up instead of down. Do this by setting the pulley at hip height, stepping forward on one leg and pulling your rounded arms up at about a 45-degree angle until your fists meet.
When you do push-ups using your body weight, the opposite applies. In this case, prop your feet on a bench -- or stability ball for more challenge -- and work on a decline. Since your clavicular pecs are smaller than your massive sternal pecs, you'll probably have to drop the weight or do fewer reps in the case of push-ups. Also, since your clavicular pec assist in working the larger pecs, make sure to follow the rule of working your larger muscles before working your smaller upper pecs. This means doing standard push-ups or flat bench or declined weight work before your upper-pecs work.
Lateral Shoulder Work
Your front delts will do double-duty when you add upper-pec work to your usual pecs exercises, so skip the standard military and overhead presses. Instead, do lateral lifts with dumbbells or crossed cables, lifting your arms out to your sides until your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Make sure to lift with your shoulders and not your upper arms. Or do upright rows with a barbell or other weighted bar, leading with your elbows and pulling the bar up to your neck. Rows should be avoided if you have shoulder issues.
Like so many things in the back, where you don't see them, the posterior delts are often neglected. Not only do these muscles add the finishing touch to sexy shoulders, working them in opposition to your pecs is a must unless you want a definitely unsexy rounded upper back and jutting head. Do reverse flyes standing at a cable machine or lying face down on a flat or inclined bench with dumbbells. Or try rear-delt rows, placing one knee and hand on a flat bench and lifting a dumbbell with your lose arm by leading with your elbow. Make sure your elbow is pointed out. Tucked elbows work your lats. In all these exercises, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the move. The rear delts are often weak, so you may have to start with a very light weight or no weight at all. If that's the case, don't add weight or reps to your pecs workout until you can match it with your rear delts.
Nancy Cross is a certified paralegal who has worked as an employee benefits specialist and counseled employees on retirement preparation, including financial and estate planning. In addition to writing and editing, she runs a small business with her husband and is a certified personal trainer with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).