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May 09, 2021 10 min read
No shredded physique is complete without a sculpted and defined chest.
Getting those stringy muscle fibers to pop through like the biggest bodybuilders in the game is everyone’s dream. If you find your growth lacking in the chest area, you aren’t alone.
The pec muscles are among the most difficult muscle groups to engage and grow, with the outer portion of the pec being the hardest to see results. Even if you’re never skipping a chest day, there may be some exercises you could be incorporating to maximize your outer chest development.
In order to more efficiently work your chest, it is important to understand the function and anatomy of the pectoral muscle region. Simply being aware of how the muscles move and operate will definitely give you an advantage in the gym. The pec group is a complex muscle group made up of four individual muscles: the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, and subclavius.
The pectoralis major is the part of the pectoral group that is visible beneath the skin, especially when you are super ripped. This muscle is fan-shaped and very thick. In addition to its ability to make you look aesthetic when well-built, the pectoralis major aids movement of your upper arm, allowing you to move it away from and towards your body.
The pectoralis minor is beneath the pectoralis major and is a small, triangular muscle. While it cannot be seen, don’t underestimate its importance. This muscle connects to your ribs and supports both your pectoralis major and upper back. Your serratus anterior is slightly below the pectoralis major region. This muscle originates on the rib cage and also aids in the functions of the upper back.
The subclavius is a very small muscle located just below — you guessed it — the clavicle. It aids in the stabilization of your collarbone when other movements are taking place and also helps your lungs to expand.
Due to the anatomy of the muscle group, there is no real way to isolate and engage the outer chest. However, if you’re suffering from an underdeveloped outer pec, don’t lose hope.
There are several chest exercises you can incorporate into your routine to kill those pecs, maximizing overall growth and promoting hypertrophy of the outer chest.
The dumbbell fly is an amazing exercise for building your chest overall. Not only are dumbbell flyes simple to execute, but they are also incredibly versatile and personalizable to fit your needs and scenario. Form is everything when trying to properly grow your muscles, so here is exactly how to do a dumbbell fly on a flat bench:
Throughout the movement, don’t grip the dumbbells too hard or you’ll risk engaging other muscles more than your chest. It can be hard to prioritize your chest over other muscles in your upper body, so be sure you feel your chest engaged at all times.
Simple push-ups are often overlooked when looking to build a chest. It requires no equipment, so it can be the last thing you think about in the gym. However, push-ups are great to incorporate both in and outside the gym, making them especially useful for at-home workouts.
Push-ups can seem self-explanatory, but in order to properly grow your chest with this movement, you might need a refresh on the proper form:
If you find this movement too easy, there are several ways to make push-ups much harder. Try adding a weight plate on your back or stagger your hands for more of a challenge. You can also make it a fast, explosive movement by adding a clap or crossing your arms at the top of the push-up.
The cable machine is the perfect tool for getting a shredded chest in the gym. It is incredibly versatile and allows for a huge range of motion. The crossover movement is among the best chest exercises for chest development. Getting it right can be difficult, here are the steps:
You can switch which hand is on top for each rep. Think of this movement as an open and close motion, where the chest muscles are extended on the open and squeezed at the close. This movement can also be varied by changing the height of the cables.
We’ve already established that the cable machine is one of the most beneficial tools you can use in the gym to build a perfectly sculpted chest. Another cable movement you can do are cable flyes, which are comparable to dumbbell flyes, and involves major extension of the chest.
The bench press is an amazing compound movement, meaning it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. Bench press has been shown to drastically improve chest muscle growth over time.
Chances are, you are already quite familiar with this movement as it is incredibly popular in the gym. However, there are some things you can be doing to maximize chest growth with this movement. Proper form for a flat bench press can make all the difference:
This movement is easily varied through changes in the bench angle, such as using the incline bench or the decline bench. You can also try different hand placements, such as a close-grip bench press, or replace the barbell with dumbbells for a dumbbell bench press.
Chest dips work chest, shoulders, and triceps. It has previously been thought that dips worked only the lower chest, however, dips are great for building overall chest mass and thus, getting some hypertrophy to that outer chest. Dips can be bodyweight only, or you can use a loading belt to add weight.
Either way, dips are a killer movement for getting your chest engaged. This movement can be quite challenging at first, but most gyms have an assist option on their dip bar machines and should be utilized when necessary in order to avoid injury. In some cases, you may have to use parallel bars.
Landmines can be perfect for growing your chest without the stress of a bench press or chest dip movement, which can be especially hard on your shoulders. This movement is quite simple and is great for beginners. The landmine press can be done with both hands or just one hand, but a two-handed landmine press will more effectively engage the chest.
The landmine press can be varied in many ways. Perhaps most popular is getting to the floor in a kneeling position. This will help increase the range of motion available from the fixed barbell.
You can also bring the barbell to one shoulder, pushing it up over your head and bringing it down to the other shoulder. Alternating your shoulders is good for hitting those pecs from various angles.
If you find your outer chest is still drastically underdeveloped despite trying all of these movements and never skipping a chest day, there is likely a simple explanation. You may even have a very developed upper chest and lower chest already, but find your outer chest really lacking.
This is not uncommon, but can easily be fixed through form evaluation or changing certain habits in the gym. Here are some things you should keep in mind when trying to grow your outer pecs:
While you may suffer from an underdeveloped outer chest, the truth is there is no muscle separation between the outer and inner pec muscles. Though the pectoral group has individual distinct muscles, you must work the muscle group as a whole to see progress. Incorporating the above movements and tips may be all it takes to get the killer outer chest of your dreams.
Muscle hypertrophy can be very hard to achieve, so don’t feel discouraged. It may be a while before you see real gains in your outer chest, but consistency and discipline will make all the difference.
If you’re really struggling with getting the muscle growth you desire, there are a plethora of shredding supplements and fat burners you can use in tandem with those killer gym sessions to achieve a built outer chest.