The pectoral muscles are located on your chest and include the pectoralis major and minor. The pectoralis major helps move your shoulder joint through numerous ranges of motion, and the pectoralis minor draws the scapula bones on either side of your upper back forward and downward. To strengthen the pectorals, regularly perform resistance exercises through these ranges of motion, gradually increasing the amount of resistance as you get stronger.
Push-ups strengthen both the pectoralis major and minor muscles. Lie face down on the ground with your palms flat on the ground just outside your shoulders. Repeatedly press into the ground with your hands to lift your body and slowly lower back down. Keep your head, back and legs aligned horizontally throughout the movement. You can also do push-ups from your knees instead of your toes.
Dumbbell fly strengthens the pectoralis major through horizontal adduction. This occurs when your arms move horizontally—in relation to your torso—toward the center of your body. Position your upper back and posterior shoulders on a stability ball with your knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the ground. Hold dumbbells above your chest with your arms extended and palms facing each other. Slowly arc the weights away from each other and downward to shoulder height and then powerfully reverse back to the starting position. Keep your arms as straight as possible throughout the exercise. Repeat for as many repetitions as you want.
The dumbbell press exercise strengthens both the pectoral muscles. Start just like the dumbbell fly exercise, but hold the dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Flex your arms to lower the weights to the sides of your chest. Once they gently touch your chest, powerfully extend your arms to return to the starting position and repeat for your desired number of repetitions.
Although front raises emphasize the anterior, or front, deltoids on your shoulders, they also strengthen the pectoralis major because it contributes to shoulder flexion. Stand upright and hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing backward. Repeatedly lift the weights forward to shoulder-height and slowly lower them back down.
Isometric Shoulder Adduction
Isometric shoulder adduction exercises the pectoralis major muscles. Stand and extend one arm away from your shoulder. Have a partner hold your wrist and attempt to arc your hand downward and toward your body, but tell your partner to resist your effort so no joint motion actually occurs. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite arm.
About this Author
Matthew Schirm has worked in the sports performance field for 10 years. He has professional experience as a baseball coach and weight training instructor. He recently earned a Master of Science degree in human movement from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Ariz.