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The chest muscles

(M. pectoralis major/minor)


The chest muscles mainly include two muscles, the major and the minor chest muscles (M. pectoralis major and M. pectoralis minor). Regarding the interplay of both, the M. pectoralis major does a main part of the work and covers completely its little triangular synergist. They influence the motion of the arm by their base on the humerus as well.
The M. pectoralis major is decisive for sporty activity. The muscle of three parts in shape of a fan gives the chest its shape.
The parts have different origins and are based on the humerus. All together, they accomplish an adduction of the arm in the shoulder, turn it inwards and pull arms forwards. A motion common for swimming: the lifted arm is lowered inside/forwards with strength.
Furthermore, the muscle lowers the shoulder and serves as supporting muscle for breathing - for fixed arm position and in combination with the M. pectoralis minor.
If you observe an exhausted athlete, who props up his hands on the thighs after a competition, he brings his body into a position, where the lung can be ventilated in a strength-efficient way - because of favourable lever conditions. The M. pectoralis major and the M. pectoralis minor get going as breath-supporting muscles.



The three parts of the M. pectoralis major (great chest muscle)



Pars clavicularis: collar bone

Pars sternocostalis: sternum and 2nd to 6th rib

Pars abdominalis: sinewy part of the straight abdominal muscle

Base: Humerus (greater tubercle)

Adduction and inside rotation of the arm in the shoulder, after putting the arm forwards, lower the shoulder (for fixed arm)




M. pectoralis minor (minor chest muscle)


Origin: 3rd to 5th rib
Base: Bone process of the shoulder blade (acrocoracoid process or processus coracoideus)

Lowers and turns the shoulder blade, breath-supporting muscle (for fixed arm)





Exercise examples



Bench press


Course of motion:

  • Take your position on the seat
  • Rest the back on
  • Head straight
  • Grasp handgrips shoulder-width apart
  • Palms show downwards
  • Knees are bent, put feet stable and flat on the floor
  • Slowly put handgrips forwards
  • Keep tension on chest muscles
  • Do not completely stretch the arms
  • Slowly return to initial position until handgrips are at chest height



  • Inhale while bending arms
  • Exhale while stretching arms


Advices of proof:

  • Avoid complete stretching in elbow
  • Breathe regularly
  • Adjust weight to fitness level



  • Bench press with dumbbells
  • Bench press with Kettlebells




Course of motion:

  • Adjust the seat so that forearms are parallel to the floor
  • Take your position on the seat
  • Rest the back on
  • Head straight
  • Put forearms on the upholsteries
  • Knees are bent, put feet stable and flat on the floor
  • Tense the chest and bring hands and elbows together in bent position and feet are flat on the floor
  • Slowly return to initial position until elbows are at shoulder height
  • Exhale while bringing hands and elbows together and inhale in initial position



  • Exhale while bringing hands and elbows together
  • Inhale while returning


Advices of proof:

  • Slow course of motion
  • Adjust weight to the fitness level
  • Keep tension in chest muscles
  • Avoid range of motion too far behind the shoulders



  • Flying with dumbbells
  • Flying with cable pull




Course of motion:

  • Stand upright, lateral besides the cable pull
  • Grasp the handgrip with slightly bent arm
  • Lead the arm in a running out rotating motion past the body
  • Keep tension in the chest muscles
  • Tense arm muscles for stabilisation



  • Exhale while bringing arms forwards
  • Inhale while returning arms


Advices of proof:

  • Slow course of motion
  • Adjust weight to fitness level
  • Keep elbows slightly bent
  • Tense and stabilize trunk muscles



  • Crossover with Thera-Band


Create a motivating and varied workout for your chest muscles and use different training equipment, i.e.:



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