Pectoralis Major and Minor The Pecs

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This article was edited and updated on November 10, 2015.

They are commonly referred to as "The Pecs"

“The Pecs” (the common nickname for the Pectoralis Major, and sometimes includes Pectoralis Minor) are thick, fan-shaped muscles located in the chest.

Where do they begin and end?

The Pectoralis Major begins at the sternum, clavicle, and the first through sixth ribs. All of the fibres come together and insert on the upper portion of the humerus (at a special place on the bone called the intertubercular groove).

The Pectoralis Minor originates from the front surface of the third through fifth ribs and than inserts into the scapula at the front elevated portion. Thanks to Wikipedia for the drawing.

What is their job?

The Pectoralis Major is primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint and they are key in pushing and throwing movements, such as:

The Pectoralis Major is also responsible for assisting in deep breathing and keeping the arm attached to the trunk of the body.

The Pectoralis Minor assists in moving the scapula (collar bone).

Injuries to the Pectoralis Major

Injuries to Pectoralis Major are actually fairly rare, but it is most likely to occur in sports, particularly to weightlifters, wrestlers and footballers. Symptoms of an inuury could include: chest pain, bruising, and a loss of strength. A severe tear may require surgery. An MRI can confirm the extent of the tear.

Some Exercises for the Pectoralis Major

There are several sports that do a good job of working the Pectoralis Major, and swimming is one of them. However, since I am a fitness instructor — and specifically a group fitness instructor — my suggestions will be with the use of dumbbells rather than the pool or machines.

And, finally, how do you stretch the Pectoralis Major?

Stretching out the Pectoralis Major requires getting the arms behind you. Some possible stretches are:

Here's a list of the other articles about muscles in this series:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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