This week’s bootcamp: Chest muscles

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crop3_240x240_18sep14The chest muscles are often ignored. We have some easy exercises for you that you can do at home to build your pectorals

Pectoralis major (and pectoralis minor), commonly known as the chest muscles are one of the first muscles, after the biceps, that start showing that you have been working out. But unlike other muscle groups, the chest muscles can be exercised quite well even outside the gym, using your own body as resistance. The regular push-up is the most common exercise that comes to mind when we talk about chest muscles. But this week, we will take a look at different kinds of push-ups that will add not only a variation to your workout, but also prove more effective than a regular push-up. Before you proceed, don’t forget to warm up.

Wide arm push-up
Instead of having the arms by the side of your body as in a regular push-up, let them spread out wider. You should be looking at the ground. Go down to an extent where there is just an inch of gap between your chest and the ground. Do not touch the chest to the ground. This creates additional resistance as you are trying to come up after going down. It works out the outer chest muscles better than the regular push-ups. Now remember, while doing push-ups of any kind, ensure that your butt is in line with the legs and the back. Sagging butt or pointing it out is not ideal.
Frequency: 2 sets of 10 reps; gradually increase

Incline push-up with knees on a bench
Find a park bench or use a couch in your house. Rest your knees on the couch and your hands on the floor in the starting position of a regular push-up. To get a better grip on the knees, ensure that your calves are in a crossed position. Now, go down slowly on your arms, keeping the back and butt streamlined, and then push-up. This exercise works out the upper chest area muscles.
Frequency: 2 sets of 10 reps; gradually increase

crop4_240x240_18sep14Regular atlas push-up
This is one push-up where you will feel as though your chest muscles are being pulled out from the sides, as you go down. You need two objects that are at least 10-12-inches tall placed at around 18-inches to 26-inches apart—this depends on your comfort level. Get in the regular push-up position ensuring your butt, back and legs are streamlined. Go down slowly as far as your body can allow: the lower your chest level is between the objects, the greater the resistance. Then slowly come up. It works out your internal chest muscles as well as the triceps. You can do a variation of this exercise with your feet on the same height as well, but that is a slightly advanced atlas push-up called the Atlas II variation.
Frequency: 2 sets of 15; gradually increase

Hand-clap push-up
This is a regular push-up with a twist. Get in the regular push-up starting position, hands placed just below your shoulders. Go down like you would in a regular push-up, ensuring the leg, butt and the back are streamlined. As you are coming up, give a slight push in a way that you are able to have both hands in the air and clap once before going back on both arms. This clapping push-up technique helps you develop the fast-twitch muscles which are responsible for producing short bursts of power. This exercise is a favourite with sportsmen who use their upper-body in their sport such as volleyball, basketball or even karate. A difficult variation of this exercise is to clap your hands behind your hip as you come up. But attempt this variation only after you have mastered the regular hand-clap push-up.
Frequency: 2 sets of 10; gradually increase

This article was originally published in The Label: This Week’s Bootcamp: Chest muscles 

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