The chest, shoulders and triceps may sound like only three areas of your body but in truth the pectoral muscles of your chest in themselves include an upper, middle and lower portion. The muscles of the shoulders, called the deltoids, are composed of a front (anterior), medial (middle) and posterior (rear) portions. For a comprehensive program to work the pecs, deltoids and triceps you will need to do variations of chest presses and push-ups to target the different portions of the muscles.
Dumbbell Incline Presses
This exercise works the upper pecs, anterior deltoids, and medial deltoids primarily as well as the triceps and posterior delts. A barbell may also be used for the exercise or you can try an incline press machine. Start seated on an incline bench with your back pressed into the bench and your feet on the floor. Keep your arms bent next to your sides with your forearms pointing toward the ceiling. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward. Simply raise your arms straight toward the ceiling and then bend them back to the starting position.
Regular floor push-ups work the middle portion of your chest as well as your triceps, and anterior and medial delts. The posterior delts are worked as a secondary muscle. The push-up exercise is done on the floor with your body supported on your hands and toes. Space your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet together or hip-width apart. The position of the back is important and it should always remain flat during a push-up. Begin with your arms straight. Then, bend your elbows out to the sides to bring your torso to the floor. Push your body back up to complete one repetition.
Decline Barbell Bench Presses
The decline barbell bench press works the pecs, triceps and deltoids too, but it emphasizes the lower portion of the pecs. You will need a barbell, a decline bench and likely someone to spot you when doing decline presses so you don’t risk dropping the barbell on your throat or face.
Assume the starting position by lying face up on the decline bench. Hook your feet into the foot rests if your bench has one. Otherwise, bend your knees and hang your legs over the top end of the bench. Your head is in position closer to the floor on the bottom of the bench. Hold a barbell above you with your arms straight. The arms should be perpendicular to the floor regardless of the angle of your body. Simply bring the bar to your chest by bending your arms and then press it back up above you to do the exercise. Your lower back should stay pressed against the bench.
About this Author
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since graduating cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor.