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Do Pushups Help Build Pectoral Muscles?

author image William McCoy
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.
Do Pushups Help Build Pectoral Muscles?
A woman doing push-ups on a mat at home. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

If your workday has flown past and you don't have a chance to visit the gym, spend some time at home performing body-weight exercises. A simple addition to any body-weight workout routine is a set of pushups. If you perform pushups regularly, they can contribute to strong pectoral muscles and strength in several other areas of your body.

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Your Pecs and More

Each pushup repetition you perform works the sternal head of each of your pectoralis major muscles. These muscles, which are commonly known as your pecs or chest muscles, help you execute a number of shoulder and scapula movements. Pushups don't just involve your pecs; this exercise also strengthens your deltoids, triceps, biceps, quadriceps, erector spinae, rectus abdominis and obliques.

Pushups Aren't the Best Option

Pushups are a convenient way to gain muscle and are adaptable to a variety of fitness levels. Beginners can use knee pushups to build up to performing standard pushups, while experts can perform decline pushups for an added challenge. Pushups, however, aren't the fastest way to build your chest. According to the American Council on Exercise, the barbell bench press exercise generates the most muscle activity in your chest. Standard pushups rank only ninth in pectoral muscle activity.

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