Published On: Mon, Mar 6th, 2017

Setting a 1RM Goal For the Pectoral Muscles

What really got me into lifting weights had nothing to do with a desire to actually lift weights.  Or look more muscular [I still have a long way to go for that]. Or get in better shape.  It had more to do with a fascination of how the body works.

I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but Nduku and I were having this conversation about fitness, lifting and so forth, and we disagreed on something.  I have no idea what it was, but apparently I was talking as if I knew something, probably relying on something I learned in elementary school about the muscle groups.

I’m sure I had it all wrong.  And I’m sure Nduku felt it was no use arguing when I don’t realize it.  So, she just threw out there a suggestion [partly and probably in jest] to read a book.

Well, why not? I’m not sure if I decided to read a book so we can go back to the disagreement and I win. Or because I had a funny feeling she was probably right and the book gave me an easy way of realizing it without losing the argument. Or maybe because when someone says read a book, I find it an excellent suggestion, regardless of why I was told to read a book.

So, I did. And my goodness did I know very little about said muscle groups I learned in elementary school!

Since then I’ve become more interested in how the muscles worked, what they did, and what exercises helped strengthened which muscles and so forth. Naturally, being a guy, I was curious about the chest muscles. I always wondered why people called them pecs.

The pectoral muscles are the chest muscles. Hence pecs. I’ll soon learn that lats, delts and quads are also short for muscle groups.


There are two major groups of muscles that make up the pecs. The pectoralis major is the large muscle that makes up the bulk of our chests. Its primary focus is the movement of the shoulder joint. And I thought that’s what the delts were for. The pectoralis minor also plays a role in the shoulder joint, but is a smaller muscle that sits beneath the pectoralis major.

It’s these two main muscle groups that men spent countless hours in the gym and under a bar to bulk up for the Incredible Hulk look. I’d venture to say that some guys only focus on these muscles.

Pectoral muscles are the muscles that connect the front of the human chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder. Pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, which makes up the bulk of the chest muscle. It lies under the breast. It serves to flex, extend, and rotate the humerus, the long bone of the upper arm. Pectoralis minor is a thin, triangular muscle located beneath the pectoralis major. It attaches to the ribs, and serves to stabilize the scapula, the large bone of the shoulder.

The pectoral fascia is a thin layer of tissue over the pectoralis major, extending toward the latissimus dorsi muscle on the back. Along with the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, the subclavius muscle forms the axilla or armpit. The subclavius moves the shoulder downward and forward. Serratus anterior is another muscle on the front of the chest. It moves the scapula forward around the torso, as when throwing a punch. Between the ribs are various groups of intercostal muscles, which help with breathing.

The most popular exercise for building the pecs is the bench press.  When I first started lifting last year, I struggled with less than 100 pounds.  And I don’t mean 90 pounds either.  But, I kept at it and have come close to 150 pounds, but I’m not in a rush to find out that it’s too much and have it come crashing on my neck if I misjudge it.

For the record: I do have safety catches next to the bench, but I prefer to not have to need them.

When lifting weight, I learned that you want to calculate your one rep max (1RM) and use that as a measurement, a guide, and a way to figure out how much to lift, how many sets, reps and how often.  It’s the maximum amount of weight you could lift in one rep.  My 1RM is 171.0 pounds, not that I ever thought about lifting that much, but I’ve come a long way from when it was closer to 71 pounds.

My goal this year is to be able to press my weight, around 165 pounds, six times in one set.  I have no idea when that will happen.  Perhaps in a few months.  Maybe by the end of the year.  Maybe it’s too lofty too early.  Just thinking about it makes my chest muscles hurt.

But, I’m setting that as a goal, along with dozens of others for dozens of other muscle groups.  I just have to get back into a routine and get off this computer.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.


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