Muscle That Stretches Across the Front Upper Chest

Muscle That Stretches Across the Front Upper Chest

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Work your upper chest with incline chest press.

Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Spanning across the front of your upper chest is the pectoralis major muscle, which is responsible for performing a variety of movements at the shoulder joint. There are exercises that you can use to work the pectoralis major, as well as ways to modify the exercises to better isolate the upper portion of the muscle.

Upper Chest Muscle

The pectoralis major actually consists of two sections, including the sternal and clavicular head. The clavicular head is located at the upper chest. It originates up at the middle half of the front of your clavicles and then runs out to each of your shoulders, inserting at the top of your upper arm bone.

Muscle's Responsibilities

The clavicular head of the pectoralis major is primarily involved in shoulder transverse adduction and flexion. Shoulder transverse adduction is the squeezing of your upper arms together towards the centerline of your body, while shoulder flexion means that your arms lift up in front of you. It often works alongside your anterior deltoid, which is the front section of the major shoulder muscle during shoulder flexion. The clavicular head of the pectoralis major also assists with shoulder internal rotation.

Exercises to Target

To develop strength and size in the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, incorporate incline chest press and incline fly into your workouts. Both exercises are done on a bench set to a 45- to 60-degree angle. Recline back on the bench with the weights in your hand. Incline chest press involves pushing the weights over your head until your arms are fully extended. The incline fly involves beginning with your arms extended over your upper chest and then opening your arms out to your sides until they're about parallel to the floor. Completing these exercises while reclining back is what makes them primarily work the upper chest. If you were to do the chest press or fly while lying flat on your back, you'd be primarily working the sternal head.

Breathing Involvement

According to Loyola University's Medical Education Network, the pectoralis major is also involved in forced inspiration. When you take a deep breath in and your upper arms are positioned in abduction, your pectoralis major contracts to pull your ribs up towards your upper arms. This helps increase the size of the thoracic cavity so that more air can come in and fill the lungs.


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