Pectoralis major muscle


Musculus pectoralis major translates as “large pectoral muscle” - and that makes it quite clear what it is about. The pectoralis major muscle represents the largest and most powerful part of our anterior shoulder muscles.
Since it is so large, it can be divided into three parts: the pars clavicularis (the part at Collarbone), the pars sternocostalis (the area at Ribs and Sternum) and the pars abdominalis (which is roughly above the stomach).


The pectoralis major muscle radiates from the shoulder in a fan shape

The muscle fibers of the strong pectoralis major muscle pull in a fan shape from the shoulder towards the origin of the muscle, i.e. to where the tendon is fused. At the top, where the muscle attachment is, the muscle is slightly twisted in its course, so that the originally lower fibers that come from the abdominal region are at the top of the Crista tuberculi majoris, a protruding bone at the top of the upper arm, and the previously upper muscle fibers from the bowl bone now on the lower part of the Crista tuberculi majoris apply.


Did you get the Course of the entire muscle and its individual Shares once made clear and, if possible, followed with your finger on an anatomical drawing, its task and function is relatively easy to understand.
The pectoralis major muscle is on the one hand for the Adduction (Movement towards the body) of Poor responsible, especially if the arm is in the so-called Elevation position is located (i.e. when the arm is already raised to an angle of over 90 ° in the shoulder joint).
On the other hand, he takes over Inward rotation of the arm.
The pars clavicularis of the pectoralis major muscle is particularly helpful in Raise the arm forwardbecause he can then pull the trunk to the arm with the arm firmly fixed (as is required for pull-ups, for example).

As already mentioned, the muscle origin is at the Clavicle (the collarbone), the 2nd to 7th rib cartilage and on the front sheet of the Rectus sheath (which means the ordere part of the outer muscle covering of the large abdominal muscle).
The muscle attachment of the pectoralis major muscle is at the Crista tuberculi majoris humeri (in German: the big hump of the arm). The entire muscle is innervated via the nerves Medial pectoral nerve and Lateral pectoral nerve.


Since no human being on earth has an identical structure, there is also the large pectoral muscle quite a few variations. Most likely there may be adhesions with the Latissimus dorsi muscle or that Deltoid muscle come, then a clear visual separation of these muscles is hardly possible. These adhesions are not uncommon; however, they only come in at about 7 % of all people.

The pectoralis major muscle can also be completely absent on one side. This rare defect is then called Poland Syndrome designated.


However, the pectoralis major muscle is not only important, as you might initially think, for athletes and bodybuilders. Also medical and in more cosmetic It is of great importance. In the Breast augmentation (So the breast augmentation) cosmetic surgeons often choose to do this Silicone implant to be implanted under the pectoralis major muscle, which promises better fixation and form stabilization. This will then subpectoral implant position called.

The large pectoral muscle is also important for trauma surgeons and plastic surgeons. Especially with complicated and complex ones Bypass surgery can lead to major defects in the Sternum come, so that it is necessary to detach the pectoralis major muscle from its origins on the sternum and, so to speak, to place it over the large wound defect in order to achieve a quick and easy Healing of the wound to enable. This so-called Pectoralis flap can be carried out on one or both sides.

Also at Breast cancer at an advanced stage the large pectoral muscles an important role. Because due to the anatomical proximity of the chest and the muscle (the breast tissue lies on the front of the pectoralis major muscle, so to speak), the malignant cancer cells infiltrate the chest muscle before they reach even deeper layers of the chest wall.
In order to avoid such dramatic developments, it is still the gold standard to regularly use the Breast cancer screening and look for suspicious changes.

Pectoralis minor muscle

As the name suggests, there is not just one in the human body large pectoral musclebut also one Little ones, Called the pectoralis minor muscle. This comes from his big brother and becomes of him completely covered (so lies below the large pectoral muscle).
It has its origin on 3rd to 5th costal cartilage and then runs up to the Coracoid process, the Raven beak process of the scapula.

On the one hand, this enables him to follow the shoulder blade diagonally in front at the bottom to pull. On the other hand, it is an important part of the Auxiliary respiratory muscleswhen you prop up your arms and want to take a deep breath. Through him a "Slide up" of Shoulder girdle prevented.

The pectoralis minor muscle is also used by the nervi pectorales medialis and lateralis provided. The small pectoral muscle becomes clinically noticeable when it no longer functions. Then it is no longer possible for those affected to hold their arms cross over or moving the hand from the damaged side to the back of the other shoulder.


Before thinking about exercising the pectoralis major muscle, think about how it can be used effectively and sensibly stretch can. Because for fitness and an athletic lifestyle, all five aspects of the motor skills of our muscles are important:

  • endurance
  • force
  • Speed ​​power
  • flexibility
  • coordination

It is important on all of these areas to pay attention and not about, as with many of the Bodybuilder nowadays, unfortunately, can only be observed Crowd and show effects to train.

You create a fixed one now Training planIn order to be more active in sports, the probability is very high that over time and due to the often one-sided stress of individuals Muscles or Muscle groups The muscles on the training equipment shorten, which in turn leads to Tension, bad posture and ultimately pain can lead.
Hence, it is more than advisable to include the actual exercise program around a few Stretching exercises to train coordination and flexibility and to keep the muscles supple.
Because a shortened muscle is not able to develop its full potential, no matter how intensive and persistent training it is.

Now, when we talk about stretching the pectoralis major muscle, it's also important the whole Shoulder girdle should be included, as it usually makes little sense to only want to stretch a single muscle (A single muscle is never involved in movements, but rather several in interaction). A shortened chest muscles, for example, can cause you to shortness of breath, Shoulder pain or Pain between the shoulder blades suffers.

Sometimes those affected develop a so-called Hunchback (hyperkyphosis) due to shortened chest muscles. It therefore makes sense to always stretch the pectoralis major muscle sufficiently and to ensure that it cannot shorten and cause problems if it is not strained.
This happens all too quickly in today's world, as we tend to carry out all movements in front of our body and our arms rarely on the Back of the fuselage move. We also often let our shoulders hang down instead of tightening them every now and then to consciously draw towards each other.

An effective and easy exercise for the large pectoral muscle is the following: one presents himself upright there and raise both arms horizontally in front of the upper body, placing them in the Elbow angled. Then we pull them Shoulder blades As far as possible together and make sure that they do not lift, but rather push them downward Towards the buttocks. We'll keep this position for about 30 to 60 seconds and then slowly relax again.

Because when stretching, the following generally applies: Slowly take the required position and also slowly go out again. You should challenge yourself, but just don't overwhelm. As a rule, they are good 2 to 3 repetitions daily.


The push-up is a simple and effective way to train the pectoral muscles

You can also read about this: chest muscle training

Now to the actual training of the pectoralis major muscle. The entire chest muscles are among the major muscle groups in the human body. If it is well defined and pronounced, most people find it very attractive. To the (male) To achieve the ideal image of the so-called V-body, it is therefore essential to train the chest muscles sufficiently.
A variety of exercises are available here. However, in order not only to strengthen the muscles, but also to ensure a visible build-up of muscle mass, you cannot avoid training with weights.

Probably the best known and most popular exercise here is the bench press on the flat bench with a so-called barbell. It is a very effective basic exercise for training the pectoralis major muscle and builds muscle mass well. The other parts of the muscles in the upper half of the body are also challenged, for example the triceps and the anterior shoulder girdle.
There are different types of bench press to choose from, each of which focuses on different parts of the chest muscles and increases their demands.
First to the classic bench press. Here you lie with your back on a training bench in a stable position (It is important to ensure that the buttocks and shoulders as well as the back of the head rest well on the lying surface). The barbell should be in its stand at eye level. Place your feet firmly on the floor on both sides of the bench in order to maintain your balance (but without slipping into the hollow back!). The barbell is grasped with both hands at the same distance on the right and left, the shoulder width is a good guide. With the arms almost outstretched, the barbell is then lifted out of its holder and over the chest. Then you let it down slowly and take a deep breath. The dumbbell should not touch the chest, but hover just above it and you should also avoid bouncy movements. At the same time as you push the dumbbell up, you breathe out again, being careful not to stretch your arms completely.
So that the elbow joints are not stressed too much during this exercise, it is advisable never to completely relax the muscles, but always keep the arms in a slightly bent position. At the beginning of the training it is sufficient to just press the barbell on your own, later you can gradually increase yourself with additional weights.

Another good training exercise is possible on the incline bench. The exercise is completely similar to the normal bench press, the only difference being that it is performed on an inclined bench. The following applies here: the steeper the angle of the backrest, the greater the strain on the upper area of ​​the chest muscles. The bar is also guided vertically upwards and very close to the chin. Since this exercise requires a high degree of coordination, you should be supported and secured by a partner.
Butterfly devices are also extremely effective training devices for the chest muscles. Since the pectoralis major muscle is specifically used here, it is a very popular machine with bodybuilders to ensure maximum definition of the muscles. It is important to ensure that the seat is always adjusted so that the upper arm and forearm are at right angles to each other and the upper arms are also bent at 90 ° to the body axis. The head, shoulders, torso and buttocks are pressed against the backrest in an upright position. In this position, the chest muscles are stretched to the maximum. The upholstery is brought together by the hands and arms in front of the body (This guided type of exercise is particularly suitable for beginners). Gradually, the weight used can also be increased here, but it must always be ensured that the upper body is still upright and the spine can always touch the backrest.

The last, and probably the most classic of all chest muscle exercises, is the push-up. It is not only very suitable for strengthening the back muscles, but also stresses the pectoralis major and minor muscles and the triceps. Since you don't need any equipment or other aids here, you can do the exercise anytime, anywhere.
When doing push-ups, it is important to make sure that your legs and upper body are stretched and your buttocks and shoulders are roughly in line. The feet are placed slightly apart and only touch the floor with the toes. The hands should be placed more than shoulder width apart and form a line (as an imaginary extension of the shoulders, so to speak). The arms are almost straight (slightly bent at the elbows), fingertips facing forward and thumbs facing inward. In order to protect the wrists more, you can alternatively clench your hands into fists. The arms are bent until the chest almost touches the floor. Then you return to the starting position. The closer you position your hands to each other, the more the large pectoral muscle is trained.


Chest pain is a very hot topic, especially with older men. Because often one is having a sore chest Heart attack associated - which is the case in a large number of cases. However, it is also possible that the cause of the pain comes from somewhere else, namely from the Pectoralis major or minor muscle. These two important chest muscles are due to our daily stress and the often unhealthy posture in many of us tense, shortened or simply insufficiently trained. Frequent sitting at the computer tends to let your shoulders hang slack and unconsciously pull them forward, the back collapses, so to speak, and the chest muscles atrophy over time.

But also excessive exercisethe way bodybuilders do it can lead to chest pain. Often, for supposedly aesthetic reasons, too much emphasis is placed on training the back muscles and the pectoralis major muscle is neglected.
The result: The chest muscles tense up and over time they become increasingly sensitive to pressure of any kind.

It can of course also happen that a sore chest is caused by a inflammation of the pectoralis major muscle. These pains are then often felt by those affected, especially when moving their arms chest feels overall soft and delicate on and the ability to move as well as that To breathe are sometimes restricted. Usually, however, inflammation of the pectoralis major muscle is rare.
Nor does it set in suddenly, but rather develops slow and creeping. In most of the cases it is caused by a (unnoticed and therefore untreated) Injury to the chest, for example with a bruise or a Rib fracture. Or an injury to the pectoralis major muscle occurred unnoticed in the course of a surgical procedure. This can be the case with a Breast cancer surgery happen where extensively in the area of Chest muscles must be operated on. The pectoralis major muscle can also itself from Cancer metastases be affected and thereby pain or be affected as a consequence of a rheumatic disease.

While it is a mere strain The chest muscles are not a problem that needs treatment, as the symptoms usually go away on their own, but you should be more careful with an inflammatory process and consult a doctor.
Is the inflammation then by a bacterial infection the doctor can Antibiotics prescribe to contain this, whereupon the inflammation usually subsides after one to two weeks without complications.

Here's a good one Cooperation of the patient indispensable, as he has to protect the affected pectoralis major muscle strictly and consistently forego sporting activity. As soon as the jokes subside, the person concerned can begin with light gymnastic exercises to slowly restore the mobility of the chest muscles. But here do not exaggerate and overload the muscle too early, otherwise this would only unnecessarily prolong the regeneration time.

Should be acute crack of the pectoralis major muscle, as it occurs in very rare cases in aggressive martial arts or other extreme sports, this is a case for the surgeon. This can then affect the part operational restore. With good physiotherapy, it is also easily possible to survive the injury without consequences. It is then of course advisable to rethink and possibly limit your own lifestyle and the practice of martial arts / extreme sports.