The chest is made up of several muscles, the largest being the pectoralis major upper and lower portions. The upper part is more specifically referred to as the clavicular head, the lower as the sternal head. Building the mass of these muscles requires that you perform a resistance exercise regimen on a weekly basis. During each chest workout, do exercises for both the upper and lower portions of the pectoralis major to develop the muscle group from top to bottom. Do three to five sets per movement, and eight to 12 repetitions to failure per set. This means you need to use an amount of resistance that will not allow you to do more reps past that rep range.
Get in a pushup position on the floor, with your hands a bit wider than clavicular-width apart, and with your back, hip, and legs straight. The angle of this exercise emphasizes the lower portion of the pectoralis major.
Ask a training partner to put a weight plate on your back.
Keep your head up and look straight throughout the range of motion.
Flex your shoulders horizontally and flex your elbows to lower your torso until your chest is close to the floor.
Extend your shoulders horizontally and extend your elbows to raise your torso up to the beginning position.
Seated Machine Upper Chest Fly
Lower the machine seat as much as possible and then sit on it, putting your back up against the upright part of the seat.
Grasp the machine bars with your hands about a foot higher than the machine handles. This hand position, along with the lowered seat, will help you emphasize the upper portion of the pectoralis major.
Keep a slight bend in your elbows and keep your head up while you perform the exercise.
Move the machine bars inward by horizontally flexing your shoulders until the bars are close to each other.
Move the machine bars outward to the starting position by horizontally extending your shoulders.
- If you cannot perform eight to 12 repetitions during the weighted pushup -- even when using the lightest weight plate -- then try to complete the target number of reps using just your body weight. If you still cannot complete the target rep range, perform the pushup with your knees on the floor.
- Do not move the machine bars too far back behind your torso while doing the seated machine upper chest fly to avoid injury to your pectoralis major.
Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in Bodybuilding.com and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.