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  • Ben

The Perfect Chest and Shoulders Workout

When looking at how to create the perfect chest and shoulders workout just as we did with the perfect leg workout and perfect back workout, we will first look at the anatomy and basic functions of these target muscles.

The chest:

Your chest is made up of 4 muscles; the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior and subclavius. The serratus anterior and subclavius are much smaller muscles so for simplicities sake we won’t spend much time looking at these. Additionally, many of the exercises which work the two main pectoral muscles such as push ups also work the smaller serratus anterior, so this is another reason why we don’t have to worry too much about it. So let’s look at the two main muscles of the chest the pectoralis major and minor, the pectoralis major (as the name would imply) is the larger of the two and is the muscle which is most active in big movements such as a push up, bench press and any other pressing motions involving the chest. The pectoralis minor’s main function relates to stabilisation and movement of the scapula.

When it comes to working and building your chest your pectoralis major doesn’t require too much thought, think of pretty much any big chest builder; bench press, chest press, push ups, you name it the pectoralis major will be the dominant muscle working on your chest’s behalf. Consequently this can leave the pectoralis minor relatively undeveloped! If at this point you are thinking “oh well the pec major is the big one people can see, who cares about the pec minor”, well the answer is, you should! Your pectoralis minor has about the same amount of musculature as your bicep, so if you have been working out for a while and have built up a good level of muscle in your arms then take a look at your bicep and imagine all of the additional size and strength you can add to your chest by giving this muscle a bit more attention!

So what exercises should you do:

Pectoralis major:

· Bench press (Barbell or Dumbbell)

· Chest press

· Push ups

Pectoralis minor:

· Dips (but make sure to lean your bodyweight forward)

· Cable flys

The shoulders (deltoids):

The shoulders have 3 heads; a front, side and rear head. The front head is worked a lot during many traditionally chest based exercises, for example the bench press is very effective at working the front delts, because of this for the large majority of people isolation movements which work the front delts such as front raises are often not necessary.

Moreover, most big shoulder press movements such as dumbbell shoulder press or over head press primarily use the front delt, meaning even more so that isolation work is rarely required for this muscle. Your side (lateral) and rear delts however, do need special attention both for different reasons. Well developed side delts can have an enormous effect on your overall physique appearance, making you look ‘wider’, this in turn can make your waist look smaller and give that ever chased gold standard of an ‘upside down triangle’ which all bodybuilders strive for. Your rear dealts are also very important to train, partially for the aesthetic reason of giving your shoulders a well rounded appearance but far more importantly they help with posture, they help to pull your shoulders back (they aren’t the only muscles doing this job others include; the rhomboids, scapula retractors and traps), but in the current world of everyone always looking down at their mobile phone and spending all day at their computer, hunched upper backs with rounded in shoulders has become a far too common occurrence, so adding in some work to help counteract this is an absolute must.

Some exercises:

Front delts:

· Most chest pressing movements e.g bench press, chest press, press up

· Seated or standing dumbbell shoulder press

· Overhead press

Side delts:

· Lateral raises (dumbbell or cable – cable has the benefit of a consistent tension profile, however if you are new to training you will likely find it easier to engage the target muscle using dumbbells)

Rear delts:

· Pec dec rear delt fly

· Dumbbell rear delt fly (can also be performed on a cable machine)

· Standing rope cable face pull

So there it is, a basic breakdown of the anatomy of the chest and shoulders, by understanding what muscles make up these areas and their functions, we can look at how to most effectively train them. I hope this post has been helpful for you and given you some ideas of what to incorporate into your own training. If you have any questions or are interested in any of the programmes on the website, then please feel free to drop me a message.

Next week’s topic – The Perfect Arm Workout

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