How To Properly Flex Your Chest Muscles

Closeup of muscular sports man measuring chest with tape measure isolated over gray background. Bodybuilder chest gain concept.

Key Points

  • Chest muscle development is a strategic process of strength training, proper nutrition, and determination.

  • Applying the mind-muscle connection to strength training yields even more impressive results in and out of the gym.

  • Learning to flex the pecs and move chest muscles at will takes time, practice, and a mastery of proper chest exercise form.

In May 2023, Dexter "The Blade" Jackson shared his chest day workout on YouTube for aspiring builders. Bodybuilders like Jackson are impressive specimens. Not only does it take serious self-confidence to bare everything on stage for all to see, but the sheer magnitude of muscle that the human frame has the potential to develop is mind-boggling. However, there's much more to bodybuilding than knowing how to flex your pecs and do a few poses.

Any attempt at strength training involves commitment, dedication, and changes to existing habits. Those who make fitness a priority experience the many mind and body benefits that come with having a strong frame. If you're wondering how to flex your pecs and up your fitness game, you must employ simple strategies to reach your strength potential. See what's possible as you take a deeper dive into those marvelous chest muscles of yours.

Chest Muscles 101

Your chest muscles, also known as the pectoralis muscles, are a formidable bunch of muscle fibers located in your upper chest. Two main muscles comprise the chest: the major and minor pectoralis.


The pectoralis major is a large, fan-shaped muscle covering the upper part of the chest. Extending from the breastbone to the upper arm, its primary function is to bring the arm across the body in a movement known as horizontal adduction. 

Actions such as pushing, throwing, and hugging are all made easier with a well-toned pectoralis major. It also contributes to shoulder movements such as flexion, extension, and internal rotation.

Exercises that target the pectoralis major include push-ups, bench presses, chest flies, and dumbbell presses. This is the glamour muscle that pops when you flex your chest for pictures and competitive bodybuilding.


The pectoralis minor is a smaller, triangular-shaped muscle located directly beneath the pectoralis major. It arises from the third, fourth, and fifth ribs, attaching to the coracoid process of the shoulder blade. 

This "minor" muscle is responsible for depressing and stabilizing the scapulae, or shoulder blades. It assists in pulling them down and forward, aiding in movements such as downward rotation and protraction of the scapulae.

While not directly involved in chest exercises, its strength and stability contribute to improved shoulder and upper body function. As you strengthen the pectoralis minor, you improve posture and shoulder mechanics, making upper body movement easier.

girl working out

Why Strong Chest Muscles Are Needed

Strong and well-toned chest muscles are crucial for upper body strength and functionality for various reasons. 

Upper Body Power

Your pectoralis major is a primary muscle that generates upper body power and strength. You use it for pushing movements and powerful upper body motion. Strengthening this muscle enhances your ability to perform these movements.

Stability and Joint Support

A strong, well-defined chest provides stability and support to the shoulder joint. These muscles stabilize shoulder blades and promote proper alignment and movement during exercise and daily activities. Added stability reduces your risk of injuries and improves overall joint health.

Functional Movement

You need your chest muscles for virtually any mundane household chore or exciting sports adventure you undertake. Whether you're lifting shopping bags, carrying heavy objects, or participating in vigorous sports requiring upper body strength, a well-developed set of pecs helps you perform these movements gracefully, easily, and efficiently.


A popping chest contributes to an aesthetically pleasing upper body appearance. Developing a strong, well-defined chest enhances the overall muscularity and symmetry of your upper body, which is a desirable trait for many.

Working Out: Best Exercises for a Well-Defined Chest

Chest muscles are significant for bodybuilders and those pursuing aesthetic and athletic goals. They're the defining aspect of muscle mass and are particularly essential for powerlifters who rely on them for powerlifting and bench presses.

Chest muscle admiration goes beyond aesthetic appeal. They're of substantial functional importance, primarily supporting the arm and upper body movements. The chest muscles actively contribute to the fluid motion and stability of the arms during exercise and activity.

Numerous studies investigating attractiveness show that a low waist-to-chest ratio is males' most appealing physical characteristic. This ratio is achieved when one has a narrow waist and a broad chest, emphasizing the development of well-defined chest muscles.

Gender-specific beauty standards aside, strengthening the chest benefits everyone, regardless of health or fitness goals. Whether you want sculpted pecs for the stage or just want to play a game of Twister with your children without getting winded, a strong and functional chest is an invaluable part of your health.

Here are some premium chest exercises to incorporate into your next upper body day.

girl performing incline push up

Incline Push-Up

The incline push-up is a great exercise warmup that prepares the chest for more intensive work. Research shows that a dynamic warmup prevents injury prior to vigorous training. Low-resistance movement related to what you're about to perform prepares your muscles for work and progress.

To perform an incline push-up, position yourself with your hands placed on a wall or surface at a height equivalent to a countertop. Gradually walk your feet back while your body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor.

Keep your body straight so your spine maintains a neutral position as you lower your chest toward the countertop. Pause at the bottom of your movement to contract muscles, then return to a starting position with arms extended.

Adjust difficulty as needed by stepping closer to your hands or farther away for a bit of a challenge. A warm-up with light resistance should allow you to complete 20 repetitions comfortably.

Flat Bench Press

The flat bench press is a highly effective exercise that blasts away at the chest muscles. As it engages the pectoralis major muscle and secondary muscles such as the anterior deltoids, triceps, and serratus anterior, this movement creates bulk and strength as a foundation for functional upper body movement.

To perform a flat bench press, lie flat on a weight bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Make sure your eyes align with the barbell when it is unracked. Your head, shoulders, and glutes should maintain contact with the bench throughout the exercise.

Grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with an overhand grip as wide as is comfortable for you. Make sure your wrists are straight and aligned with your forearms.

Unrack the barbell and hold it directly above your chest with arms extended. Inhale and slowly lower the bar toward the middle of your chest, maintaining control and keeping elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower it until it almost touches your chest.

Exhale and push the barbell back up to its starting position, extending your arms fully. Focus on squeezing your chest muscles as you control the push upward. Aim for 8-12 repetitions of the exercise, depending on your individual goals and fitness level. 

man performing bench press

Incline/Decline Bench Presses

Incline and decline bench presses offer a fresh perspective on the classic bench press, with different muscles engaging in movement depending on how you position your body. Adjust your weight bench to reflect the angle of your choosing, and make sure your barbell is within reach as you perform the same steps you would for a traditional bench press. 


It's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of chest work with the standard push-up. Push-ups work the chest muscles by actively engaging the pectoralis major as you lower and push your body weight back up. Chest muscles contract by lengthening during the lowering phase and shortening during the pushing phase.

Gradually increase the challenge of push-ups by adjusting your hand positions, moving toward a traditional plank stance rather than on your knees, and increasing the number of repetitions you do in a single set.

To perform a push-up, position yourself on your hands and knees. If you can, step back into a high plank position, ensuring that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your core tight and your legs straight as you lower your body.

Lower yourself as far as possible toward the ground without compromising the support of your core. Pause at the bottom of the hold, then press your chest away from the ground by extending your arms straight and pushing your body back up to a plank position. Complete 8-12 reps in each set.

Cable Crossovers

Cable crossovers facilitate the efficient movement of the arm, shoulder, and chest muscles. Multiple muscle groups working simultaneously form an efficient foundation for strength and function. 

To perform a cable crossover, stand a safe distance away from a high pulley cable machine or secured resistance band overhead. Choose a weight of resistance that is light to moderate. 

Grasp the handles or ends of the resistance band as you step forward with one foot. Maintain enough control and tension on the band to keep it positioned in front of your chest throughout the entire exercise.

Engage your chest muscles and bring the handles down and forward, crossing them across your body at the belly button level. Hold this crossed position for a moment, feeling the contraction in your chest muscles. Slowly return to a starting position. Perform this movement for the desired number of repetitions, typically 8-12 reps.

man performing cable cross overs

Chest Dips

The chest dip is a compound exercise that works the lower and outer portions of the pectoralis major. This exercise also works the triceps, shoulders, and core, providing more stability and control.

Start by standing between parallel bars or a dip station. Place your hands on the bars with palms facing down, gripping them firmly. Lift yourself up and support your body weight with arms fully extended. Maintain a slight forward lean with your feet off the ground.

Inhale as you lower your entire body by bending your elbows. Lean forward slightly to activate the chest muscles. Lower yourself until your triceps are parallel to the ground or until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles.

Exhale and push through your palms to extend your elbows, raising your body back to a starting position. Focus on contracting your chest muscles and using them to perform the movement. A goal of 8-10 reps is sufficient for building control and improving flexibility.

man performing chest dips

Resistance Band Pull-Overs

Resistance band pull-overs are an effective exercise to tone and strengthen chest muscles, particularly the pectoralis major. Secure a resistance band to a very sturdy anchor point, like a door frame or squat rack. Make sure your band is at chest level when you're standing.

Hold your resistance band with an overhand grip, with hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Face your palms downward. Step forward to create tension in your band. Keep your core engaged and your spine neutral as you pull the band toward your chest while bending your elbows slightly. 

Continue pulling the band till your hands are slightly behind your chest. Squeeze your chest muscles and hold this contraction momentarily, feeling the full engagement of the muscles. Exhale and slowly release the band, extending your arms back to a starting position. Maintain control through the entire range of motion.

Aim to perform 12 repetitions of the exercise, depending on your current fitness level and goals. Rest between sets if needed. 

All That Hard Work Paid Off!

Your pecs are nearly perfect; now it's time to show the world what you've worked so hard to accomplish. You tune in to bodybuilding competitions and watch the competitors strike impressive, strong poses with a few pectoral pops. However, those masterful movements of bouncing, flexing, and activating chest muscles seem elusive. How are they possible?

Hard work on the chest muscles is only part of the equation for mastering control of this upper body movement. Prepare for proper flexion and activation of your chest muscles, whether doing it to reach a personal goal or ahead of the next competition.

Flexing the Chest Muscles

Chest pose, or chest flexion, involves contracting and tensing the pectoralis muscles to create a pronounced, visible muscular definition. Assume an upright posture to better engage all chest muscles.

Place mental attention on your chest area and prepare to engage specific muscles. Squeeze and contract your chest muscles, particularly the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. Imagine pulling your breastbone toward your center line and angling it upward.

Hold this contraction for a few moments, maintaining steady tension in the chest area. You should feel a tight firmness in your targeted area. Remember to breathe during your flex; avoid holding your breath.

After a few seconds, release tension in your chest and allow the muscles to relax. Repeat the chest flexion many times to enhance muscle definition and create a more defined look. 

Chest flexion does not significantly develop the size or strength of your chest muscles. This pose demonstrates the definition you develop through regular strength training exercises. Plus, it promotes more control over these muscles by intentionally and consistently connecting them to the brain. You significantly strengthen the mind-body connection through this type of activity.

Taking It to the Next Level

Once you've mastered the art of the chest flex, now it's time to make some waves at your next beach gathering. Bouncing the chest or pecs is a skill that involves isolating and rapidly contracting the pectoralis muscles to create a bouncing, rippling effect. This requires much practice and control; it's not likely to happen overnight.

Following these techniques may cut down on your prep time, so make sure those pecs are ready for a wild ride.


Before attempting chest bouncing, it's essential to warm up your chest muscles with some light cardiovascular or dynamic stretching exercises. This improves blood flow and prepares muscles for activity.


Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and relax your upper body. Yes, you must relax! Maintain a straight posture and a relaxed state to isolate the chest muscles effectively.

Apply Mental Focus

Direct your attention to the chest area and mentally prepare to engage and isolate the pectoralis muscles. Begin by tightening and contracting your pectoralis as much as possible. Isolate the movement, if possible, to involve only your chest without incorporating other muscle groups.

Rapidly Contract and Relax

Once you have a strong contraction, quickly release and relax the chest muscles. Repeat this contraction and relaxation movement in rapid succession. 


There are a number of techniques and variations of chest bouncing, such as alternating between left and right pecs or focusing on a specific area of the chest. Play with these variations and find which ones work best for you.

Practice Makes Perfect

There's plenty of online advice via Reddit and other fitness forums on how to work your way into pec popping. While many consider this a useless talent, others find it entertaining and fun to watch. Even the ladies can get in on the action with proper chest control and some time in the gym.

Chest bounce mastery requires practice to develop control and coordination of the chest muscles. Start with slow, small movements, gradually increasing speed and intensity as you become more proficient. Like flexion, bouncing is primarily a skill for "showing off" or demonstrating muscle control. Not everyone is successful at it, as it requires a certain level of muscle control and genetic advantage. 

Is Flexing During Exercise Helpful?

Chest flexion during exercise, such as during a bench press, is useful for enhancing the mind-body connection and optimizing control and engagement of certain muscle groups. If you're performing an exercise such as a bench press, it's possible to deeply engage the chest muscles as a way to train them to perform on command. 

Much of this flexion involves the use of the mind-body connection, where you visualize muscle movement as you go through physical motions. Proper form and control play a pivotal role in getting the full effect of this movement, and as always, practice makes perfect when it comes to muscle memory and mastery. 

Other Muscles Used in Chest Flexion

While the primary muscles involved in chest flexing and pectoral bouncing are the pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles), other muscles assist and support these movements.

Anterior Deltoids

Anterior deltoids are located in the front of the shoulders. They assist in flexing the shoulder joint during chest flexion and contribute to overall movement. 

Triceps Brachii

The triceps, located in the back of the upper arm, extend the elbow joint during chest flexion, contributing to a pushing motion.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior muscles, which lie along the sides of the chest, allow the scapulae to protract, contributing to movement and stability of the chest during pectoral bouncing.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps may not be directly involved in chest flexion or bouncing, but they stabilize and improve control of upper body movements. 

Core Muscles

Core muscles, like the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominals, provide additional stability and support during all upper body movements, including those impressive competitive bodybuilding poses. 

man performing push up

Do It Like the Bodybuilders Do!

You don't have to be a seasoned bodybuilder to succeed at flexion. Bodybuilders use a number of techniques to flex muscles and showcase their prowess.

A few of these methods include:

  • Mastering chest poses

  • Performing isolation exercises

  • Developing the mind-muscle connection

  • Pumping or increasing blood flow to muscles

  • Using proper lighting and angles to enhance their appearance

Their ability to flex and display chest muscles is the result of years of dedicated training techniques, proper nutrition, and specific competition preparation. You have to start somewhere, right? The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman says, "The real workout starts when you really want to stop." Begin from where you are today, commit to regular training and nutrition protocol, and celebrate your successes with every contraction. You've got this!

For more tips and advice on all things related to wellness, subscribe to FitnessCorner to find out what the experts have to offer. 

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