Not to be overlooked, the pectoral muscles need a workout in order to do their job.
Fitness by Mike Mauney
It is amazing how much time and effort goes into preparing to compete in your next competition. People who have never been involved in pageants or modeling have no idea of the hard work and commitment required. If you give 100 percent to preparing for each area of competition, you carefully balance your time to include everything that needs to be done. There is training for Interview, learning hair and makeup techniques and how to walk with confidence and grace, and practicing modeling and on-stage posing for Evening Gown and Swimsuit — all while appearing relaxed and natural! Then, you must shop to find the perfect competition wardrobe, and between all of this, if you are a young woman, you also may be going to school, working, and participating in other activities. Meanwhile, for married contestants, there are additional responsibilities of taking care of your home and family members. The to-do list seems endless!
As if competition candidates don’t already have your plates filled to the max, you also face the very important task of fitness training. This is by far as important as anything else you are doing, but it is, without a doubt, the least exciting and most time-consuming and difficult part of preparing for competition. Getting the body in great shape is a slow process, and you must be very patient and dedicated. The glamour and excitement of trying on gowns and evening wear is just not there when you are tired, sweating, and sore, although, in the long run, the reward of having a great body to put into that gorgeous dress or swimsuit is a fantastic payoff. There is nothing more gratifying than looking at your “before” and “after” photos and seeing the major improvements that you have made.
Often, in women, one area of the body that may receive less attention than the rest is the chest muscles, called the pectorals and commonly referred to as “the pecs.” These muscles should be trained at some point in your fitness program, because the pecs play a major role supporting and enhancing the female shape, since, as you may know, the breast tissue is made only of fat and water and lacks any muscle and, therefore, must rely on the chest muscles to provide support and lift. This important function is especially significant as a woman matures.
To have a firmly toned and shapely body (and to fight the effect of gravity), I recommend training your chest muscles along with the rest of your body. To increase the size of your pectoral muscles, you need to train with heavy weights, performing 5 to 6 sets, doing 8 to 10 repetitions per set, twice a week, every third day. To improve your chest muscles’ definition, use medium weights, performing 3 to 4 sets, doing 12 to 15 repetitions, three times a week, every other day. Always remember to exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower the weight, and always rest 30 seconds between sets.
Exhale as you push the weights up and inhale as you lower them.
1 Lie flat on an exercise bench holding a dumbbell in each hand.
2 Keep your elbows out, pointed to the side, with the dumbbells lightly touching your chest.
3 Push the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended.
4 Lower the dumbbells at a slow moderated speed as low as possible to get a good stretch of the chest muscles.
5 Reverse direction and push dumbbells up again.
Exhale as you raise the weights and inhale as you lower the weights.
1 Lie down on an exercise bench with your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart. The knees should be flexed at about 90-degrees and your head, spine, and shoulders should rest on the bench.
2 Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing upward.
3 Arms should be extended out from the shoulders with a slight bend in the elbows.
4 The dumbbells should be on the same level or slightly below the shoulders.
5 Keep the arms in the extended position and very slowly raise the dumbbells until they are touching each other directly above the chest.
6 Squeeze your chest muscles for two seconds.
7 While keeping the arms in the extended position with a slight bend in the elbows, slowly lower the arms to the starting position.
Amanda Pennekamp, Miss South Carolina USA 2004 and 1st Runner-up at Miss USA ’04, demonstrates the proper technique for exercising the chest muscles.
Mike Mauney, owner of Body Design By Mike fitness center in North Carolina, is a Personal Fitness Trainer certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Mike specializes in Personal Fitness Training for women of all ages. For twelve years he has been training dancers, models, cheerleaders, pageant and swimsuit contestants of all ages and competition levels (local, state, national, and international). His daughter Michelle Mauney was Miss North Carolina USA 1995. Some of Mike’s training credits includes the following: Carrie Stroup, Miss World United States 2001, Janice Ward, Mrs. United States 1999, Vanessa Minnillo, swimsuit winner and Miss Teen USA 1998, and Michelle Warren, 1st runner-up Miss America Pageant 1998.