These chest muscles are trained heavily by many men in order to increase their sex appeal. If you're one of those men, be sure to stretch the pecs well, use the full range of motion, and strengthen the upper back proportionately to prevent a common muscular imbalance around the collarbone. For more movements from the Element Training program, click on the figure at left.
Exercises for Strength
Stomach-laying, place your palms on the floor beside your shoulders and push yourself up. Keep your body straight and your stomach supportive. Keep your knees on the floor to make it easier, or push off your fingers or fists to make it more difficult. Target different parts of your chest by elevating your hands or feet, or by bringing your hands close together or far apart. If you have a workout partner, you can have them push down or sit on your upper back for greater resistance, and do fewer more intense reps for greater size and strength.
Begin from the down position of a push-up, but open your legs fairly wide behind you. Now push up and backward working the upper pecs, return to the down position, and push up and forward working the lower pecs. This should be done as one smooth motion, a U rather than a V if viewed from the side.
Similar to regular push-ups, only the upper arms stay parallel to the body, with the elbows against the sides and the forearms like pillars underneath them. Pushing up and down creates a more shoulder- and tricep-focused form of everyone's favorite exercise. A static hold in the starting position is known as the Four-Limbed Staff Pose.
Stretches for Flexibility
Link your fingers together behind your back, arms straight. Push your shoulders back and raise your hands to a comfortable, challenging height. Encourage and enjoy the opening in your chest area; it's good for your breathing. This strech can be done from standing, hero pose, child's pose, and the split-legged forward bend, as well as the bridge, locust and camel poses. The three different hand positions described here can be used.
Horizontal Pec Stretch
Stand facing a wall and place your shoulder against it. Orient your upper arm outwards, and your lower arm between outwards and upward. Hold your shoulder against the wall as you slowly push your other shoulder back to stretch out your pecs. This stretch also works on the floor or in the inside corner of a room.
Vertical Pec Stretch
Stand facing a wall, reach your arm up high, and touch your fingers to the wall keeping your palm lifted off of it. Gently push your shoulder towards the wall, focusing on lengthening rather than bending at the shoulder. This can also be done in a doorway with both arms.
Supine Hero Pec Stretch
From the Supine Hero Pose, simply relax your chest and move your arms up and down, letting gravity do the stretching.
Towel-Assisted Pec Stretch
Take hold of the edges of a towel and raise it above your head with arms straight. Slowly lower it behind you, down to your waist if possible. Be mindful of your shoulder joint, and use a longer towel if you need to.
Static Holds for Endurance
Place your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest, and press them together as hard as you like. You can move them left to right, up and down, forward and in circles. This exercise is most effective while you're still feeling the burn from a good set of push-ups. It can also be done while you walk.