What are The Best Exercises To Develop The Outer Chest?


question-icon-newI am trying to build the outside area of my pecs to complete the full look to the entire pec muscle. I have good definition with the medial area (inside toward my breast bone) but my lateral areas (toward my arm pit) sag and I can not seem to get the area tight and toned no matter what exercises I do. Please help!

answer-icon-newFor maximizing growth in all areas of the chest you need to make sure the muscles are being worked through their full range of motion, and technique and proper form are extremely vital. Your nutrition and doing cardio exercise to burn body fat are imperative for a more defined chest and body.

There is no guaranteeing the resulting shape of these muscles, but there are ways to implement a chest routine that incorporates compound movements and isolation exercises to help firm, lift and fill out your chest. A blend of resistance exercise, aerobic training and good nutrition will also support the results you are looking for. A variety of key exercises will need to be performed to help with size and thickness. Pushing and hugging type chest exercises are what build thickness and size; however, to develop a chest that has full symmetry, the muscles need to be hit from different angles with a variety of exercises.

Chest muscles need to be worked through their full range of motion in order for them to grow and must be squeezed at the top of each repetition. During weight training, if the weights are too heavy, a partial range of motion will only be achieved. This will result in a lack of tension which can result in compromised muscle growth. Some people get too absorbed with pressing too much weight instead of training effectively for concentrated muscle growth.


Both the inner and outer chest can be trained keeping both areas consistent and proportional. With a variety of exercises that target these specific areas, they will be filled out evenly sooner or later. I find that people who say they want to build their inner or outer part of their chest are usually beginners who need to stick to the basic exercises such as push-ups and not be too overly concerned with the specifics until they pack on some size. However, if you feel you already do have some decent size, here are some tips you may want to pay attention to.

The pectoralis major, also known as the chest muscle, has two parts or two heads. The clavicular head or upper chest muscle and the lower chest muscle which is the larger sternal head. In theory, the whole muscle must contract as a whole as you cannot contract a specific part exclusively. However some fitness trainers may disagree because they may feel that using a single exercise like the bench press will build a bigger chest in areas that may be less than satisfactory. When lifting, pay close attention to breathing and using the proper technique. You need to practice good contractions and always squeeze on every repetition of all chest exercises; if not, results will be altered.



Genetics play a huge part in the shape of your chest muscles as well as any other muscles in your body. Sometimes your chest shape is not going to be what you picture as perfect or the same as someone else. Some may have a more round chest, others may have a triangular opening at the bottom center and some have a squarer chest. However, you can definitely change the size of your chest and still build a really nice physique with perseverance and using some of these exercise listed below.

A good start to building size, thickness and definition of the chest would be with the bench press. This is one of the most effective exercises for firming the pectorals or chest muscles. It is also a compound exercise meaning it works multiple muscle groups at once. Another common chest exercise would be a dumbbell fly using two dumbbells lying on a bench or stability ball. The stability ball will force your body to practice stabilizing your core muscles more; whereas, the bench is stable and you only need to concentrate on your form for the chest exercise. During each repetition, the pectoral muscles are being stretched making it a very effective exercise for concentrated growth. Make sure that each rep is kept slow and controlled and keep the elbows slightly bent as if hugging a tree when closing and opening.

Push-ups are a great exercise to firm up a saggy chest; if your strength is less than average you can modify a traditional push-up by starting on your knees until you build enough muscle in your chest, shoulders and arms. Another recommended classic exercise would be dumbbell or barbell rows. This specific exercise will definitely fix a softer chest as well as work your upper and lower back muscles. Back muscles need to be strong and provide good posture to do chest exercises. Lateral rows support and bring your shoulders back giving your chest a nice lifted appearance. Lastly, incorporating wide grip pull-ups (not chin-ups) into your routine assist in building the outsides of your pecs as well as working your back and shoulder muscles for added upper body strength.



Performing a variety of chest exercises in combination with the use of dumbbells and barbells will produce positive results no matter what. However, for most of us, one side of our body is stronger than the other and it is necessary to mix it up between barbells and dumbbells. When you’re using dumbbells you are allowing the weaker side of your body to try to work the same as the stronger side, but when using barbells the stronger side compensates for the weaker.

Keeping repetitions between 10 to 12 and no more than 15 reps working with 3 sets with a moderate to heavy weight is best for building size. If you are a beginner you want to work with lighter weights until you are stronger, have proper form and technique, and can perform each repetition correctly and eventually progress to a heavier weight. However, if you are more advanced in your workout routines, then the use of heavy and partial rep training can be applied. Have someone (preferably a certified fitness trainer) spot you and help with each set to maximize your workouts.

Another reason you may not be getting the results you are looking for is because you may be carrying too much body fat. Fat prevents visibility of definition or striation. Nutrition and cardio is important here. Your carbohydrates need to be clean carbs like brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, and green vegetables. Clean eating and providing efficient fuel will make the most of your workouts and you will see some obvious outcomes. Selecting lean meats such as chicken breast, lean steak, fish and protein powders are critical for seeing optimal results. Also, include a good healthy source of fats such as Omega’s 3, 6, and 9 which can be found in seeds, nuts and fish. Not only will this help with losing body fat and seeing more of your lean muscle, but it will help with inflammation when the muscle is in need of repair and recovery.

Cardio is a crucial component to rid the body of the extra fat that may surround the chest area. Even though we cannot spot reduce fat, fat reduction will occur overall in the body. Implementing 30-60 minutes of cardio exercise per session is ideal. Applying HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to target unwanted body fat. Doing HIIT cardio 2-3 days per week with weight resistance exercises 4-5 days per week is highly effective and you will notice results quicker.

A combination of an optimal diet, a cardio routine, and a progressive weight routine that utilizes a few key movements and various exercise equipment will encourage great results. Considering a professional fitness trainer will help maximize your workouts, increasing your fitness skills and knowledge towards perfecting a well-defined and sculpted body.

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About Author

Teresa Funk

I am a Certified Fitness Trainer with CFES (Canadian Fitness Education Services), working towards completing a higher level of holistic nutrition. My personal guidance is what brings my clients an optimal level of energy, a healthier desired body composition and a great quantity of fitness and nutritional knowledge.

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