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How to Build Chest & Shoulder Muscles

author image Michael Shiva Best
Michael Shiva Best is a writer with Bachelor of Arts degrees from Eckerd College. He lives and works in Orlando, Fla.. and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.
How to Build Chest & Shoulder Muscles
A man performing a bench press exercise. Photo Credit: nd3000/iStock/Getty Images

Developing your shoulders and chest gives you the strength and endurance to improve performance in all manner of activities, from golfing and gardening to swimming and football. The chest and shoulder muscles, also called the pectorals and deltoids, are major muscle groups that can have a major effect on how you look and feel. So, if you’re readying yourself for a weekend of sports or just trying to look fitter and stronger, these steps, which target all the areas of the chest and shoulders, will put you on the right track.

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Chest Exercises

Step 1

Perform bench presses. Lie on your back on an exercise bench. Grasp a barbell using a wide overhand grip. Hold the barbell above the chest with arms extended and elbows slightly bent. Lower the bar until it touches the mid-chest, hold briefly, and extend the arms back to the start position. You may use a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell.

Step 2

Grasp a pair of dumbbells and -- lying on your back on an exercise bench -- hold them above your chest with arms extended and elbows slightly bent. This is the starting position for chest flies. Turn your hands inward so the dumbbells are parallel. Lower the dumbbells to either side of your body, keeping elbows slightly bent, until they are level with your chest. Squeeze your pectorals and bring them back together in the starting position.

Step 3

Position yourself between parallel bars that are close to shoulder-width apart to perform chest dips. Grasp each bar with palms facing inward and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your body by extending your arms until almost straight, hold briefly, then return slowly to the starting position.

Shoulder Exercises

Step 1

Grasp a barbell or pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip wider than shoulder-width apart to do overhead shoulder presses. Begin with the barbell at upper chest level and arms bent beneath the bar. Extend your arms to press the weight above your head. Stop when your arms are almost fully extended, hold briefly, and return to the starting position.

Step 2

Hold a barbell or a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip at shoulder-width or narrower to prepare for upright rows. Hold the barbell at thigh-level, elbows slightly bent. Bend your elbows outward and lift the bar until it is level with your shoulders. Return slowly to the starting position.

Step 3

Stand over a barbell or pair of dumbbells with knees slightly bent for rear deltoid rows. Lean forward until your back is parallel to the floor, keeping it neutral and straight. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, hands beyond shoulder-width apart. Without moving the rest of your body, lift the barbell toward the chest with your arms until the upper arms are past parallel with the floor. Hold briefly, then lower slowly to the starting position.

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