6 Pectoral Muscle Exercises That’ll Improve Your Posture and Your Push-Up Count

Photo: Stocksy/Brkati Krokodil
When it comes to having a more aligned, better posture and stronger upper body, trainer Charlee Atkins, CSCS, founder of Le Sweat, says it’s all about the push and pull. Say goodbye to nagging back pain from sitting at your computer, as well as the rounded shoulders that usually come with by doing these pectoral muscle exercises regularly, as well as moves that work their counterparts.

You see, to truly improve your posture, it’s important to strengthen key muscle groups on the anterior and posterior, or front and backside, of your body, Charlee explains. “The anterior side of the upper body pushes things away from us, and the posterior side of the upper body pulls things toward us,” she says. “The pectoral muscles include a pectoralis major and a pectoralis minor.” These muscles help move the arm up and down, backward and forward, and in and out, as well as rotating it.

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“One of the most common mistakes that I see when it comes to people working out their upper body is they choose exercises that either primary work their pecs, or choose exercises that isolate one muscle group (bicep curls),” Charlie says. “And in general, people focus on their pecs too much in relation to the rest of the upper-body muscles.”

“When it comes to posture, her biggest recommendation is to do as many “pull” (back) exercises as you do “push” (pectoral muscle) exercises, Atkins says. For improving posture, her favorite push exercises are push-ups, overhead presses, and bench presses. For an overhead press, use a weight that feels challenging (but not impossible) to lift by the last two to three reps of a set, and ensure your back is not overly arched when you lift the load up in the air. This movement focuses on your body’s stability, increasing your back and shoulder strength. The bench press homes in on your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and triceps.

Perfect your push-up form with these tips from Atkins: 

Atkins’ go-to pull exercises are bent-over rows, pull-ups, and lat pulldowns. All three activate your back muscles while building needed core strength for more aligned posture.

Learn how to do a bent-over row the right way from certified trainer Simone De La Rue:

So how do you increase that push-up count? Do push-ups, and more push-ups, Atkins says. “There are many ways you can make push-ups easier so you can get in more reps like elevating the hands, not bending the knees, or for more challenging: elevate the feet on a bench or chair or adding a weighted vest.” Plus, there are so many push-up variations, you’re guaranteed to never get bored while building up strength.

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