Chest Anatomy: What are the muscles and what do they do

Strong, developed chest muscles (aka pecs) are the center of a fit body.

Not only do they look impressive, they make life inside and outside the gym even easier – you’re opening a heavy door, pressing a loaded barbell, or picking up with your naughty kids.

Read on to learn how your chest muscles work and – more importantly – how to do them justice in the gym.

Chest muscles and their functions

There are two strong muscles on either side of your chest: The Pectoralis major And Pectoralis minorCollectively known as your pecs.

Here, we break down the anatomy of your chest muscles. Also, how to make each one bigger and stronger.

Pectoralis Major

Of the two chest muscles, the pectoralis major (aka PEC major) refers to the most real estate. There is one of these large, fan-shaped slabs on either side of your chest

Each one is half wide of the upper chest, and has attachment points of the sternum (breast bone), ribs, clavicle (collarbone) and humerus (long bone of your upper arm).

The PEC Major itself consists of two heads, which are jointly attached to your upper arm. Both heads have overlapping responsibilities, but also have distinct functions depending on the angle of motion of the upper arm.

Sternocostal Head: Derived from sternum, sternal head picks account for 80 percent of the major’s total size.

As such, it energizes most of the muscle activity: bringing your arms toward the midline of your body (addiction), and rotating your humerus internally.

Clavicular head: The upper bouts featured two cutaways, for easier access to the higher frets. The lower bouts featured two cutaways, for easier access to the higher frets.

How PEC Major works: Different exercises can target a certain head.

Hit the Starnocostal head with rice like Deep, Bench Press, Dumbbell Fly and Decline Bench Press; Jennifer Novak, MS, CSCS, Performance Recovery Instructor and founder of Peak Symmetry Performance Strategies, says and emphasizes the clavicular head with inline press and fly.

Pectoralis minor

The PEC minor is a small, triangular muscle that rests on the bottom of the pack major and, despite sitting in front of you, actually controls the structure attached to your back.

In addition to attaching to the ribs, PEC is involved in the minor coracoid process, which is a small, hook-shaped protrusion above the shoulder blade.

Thanks to these attachment points, PEC can help with minor depression (pull down) and spread the shoulder blades and help with breathing.

How to make PEC Minor: The PEC Minor works pretty well whenever your packs work, so isolating it in the gym is no small task. “It can be hard to notice a small muscle like the Pectoralis Minor, because it doesn’t seem to be a major mover,” Novak says.

That said, if you exercise the surface of your body so that your body is tilted forward and your shoulder blades are pulled downwards, you can engage your PEC minor.

Think: Deep, Decline Chest Press, and Straight-Arm Pulldown.

To maximize growth, work your chest twice a week, allowing at least 48 hours to recover between sessions.

Be sure to include a variety of chest exercises in your weekly routine so that you hit every inch of your pecs, increasing your strength and size.

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