Chest Exercises

Chest Exercises For Women

Everyone should have a good, well-rounded upper body training program. This means having a workout routine that hits every major muscle group in the upper body – biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest. Most have no issue doing so, but women often are skeptical about training the upper body due to fears of becoming too bulky.

Why are Chest workout is important?

Aside from the vain reasons of having a bigger chest, you should implement a few chest exercises in your training to prevent an imbalance in muscle and strength.

Neglecting to train your chest, but still training other major muscles like the back, lower body, arms, and core, can lead to developing muscular imbalances in your body. Muscular imbalances can make it harder for you to perform other exercises correctly, like compound exercises. Compound exercises, like the deadlift, require multiple muscles to work through the movement, meaning your chest muscles might play a supporting role and need to pull the weight.

Benefits of Chest Workouts

You’ll make daily activities easier.

Outside of the gym, your pecs play a major role in a wide variety of daily activities, from loading grocery bags into the house to pushing open a heavy door or lugging a suitcase around an airport. “Pretty much any upper-body activity or motion that we do involves the pectoral muscles to a significant degree,” says Seedman.

The primary functions of your pecs are to flex (raise), adduct (bring back), and medially rotate (turn inward) your upper arm. So, “if you think of picking things up, holding things, squeezing things, or any kind of movement that involves pushing, the pecs are involved in all of that,” says Thomas.

That’s why, if your pecs are weak from disuse, the simple act of carrying and loading grocery bags into your house can feel like a challenge.

You’ll train other muscles.

Sure, pecs are big, important muscles, as explained above. But they also matter because they call a bunch of the surrounding muscles into action — namely the shoulders, back, and triceps — which makes any chest exercise a fantastic all-over upper-body movement.

Example: Seedman says one of the best exercises to strengthen triceps is actually a chest press. And research backs him up: A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that different chest press variations are more effective for targeting specific muscle groups than others — including the tris. Using surface electromyography, a method for measuring muscle activation during exercise, the researchers found that a dumbbell chest press is best for those who want to build up their chest, whereas a Smith machine or barbell setup is the ideal way to perform the move when that horseshoe look in your triceps is the goal.

You’ll improve your posture

When it comes to posture, the back and shoulders get all the attention. However, as one of the largest muscles in the upper body, the pecs play an equally important role in maintaining posture and upright stability, namely by supporting the scapula (your shoulder blade) and the shoulder joint itself.

“Every muscle that surrounds the scapula and shoulder is going to be important for stabilizing those joints,” says Joel Seedman, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and owner of Advanced Human Performance in Suwanee, Georgia. “If one gets weaker, then you will have offset tension across the joints.”

And if one muscle becomes overly shortened or lengthened, it won’t matter much if they’re strong or weak — the pecs won’t be able to sufficiently do their job. The biggest culprit of shortening? Your computer. When you slouch over it all day, you simultaneously shorten your chest muscle fibers and lengthen your back ones, says Seedman.

You’ll breathe easier.

When you fix your posture, you also open up your chest, which makes it easier to take deep, quality breaths. The pec minor in particular is especially helpful, as the smaller, triangular muscle attaches at the middle of your third, fourth, and fifth ribs. Any time you breathe in, the pec minor stretches, allowing your rib cage to expand.

Exercise

Push Up

Benefits of Push Ups for Women: Push ups are hands-down one of the best bodyweight exercises and most effective ways to build upper body strength for women.

Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.

How To Do It

  1. Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly, feet hip-width apart. Option to place your hands on weights if you have wrist pain.
  2. Hold this plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground as your elbows fall back towards your hips (not out to the sides).
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position.

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Dumbbell Chest Fly

Benefits: Opens the chest muscles. This exercise is great for posture and can help reduce upper back pain, increase range of motion, and reduce tightness in the upper body.

Targets: Chest muscles, both the larger pectoralis major and the smaller pectoralis minor.

How to Do It

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, or on a stability ball) with one dumbbell in each hand, arms extended above your shoulders, palms facing in towards each other. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  2. Inhale as you slowly open your arms, lowering the dumbbells in a wide arc until they reach shoulder level (or the ground). Your elbows should remain soft and not over-extended (slight bend in the elbows).
  3. Exhale as you pull the dumbbells back to starting position, squeeze your chest muscles together. Keeping your chest puffed out and your elbows slightly bent.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Benefits: The dumbbell chest press or bench press is a great way to isolate the chest muscles or pectoralis major. When done with heavy weights, chest presses will build chest strength fast.

Targets: Chest (pecs), shoulders (deltoids) and triceps.

How to do It:

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, incline bench, or on a stability ball) with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand (palms facing knees), elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Exhale as you push both dumbbells overhead at the same time; dumbbells stacked over shoulders at the top of the press. Make sure your wrists are strong and in line with your shoulders.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back towards your chest with control.

Army Crawl

Benefits: This exercise engages your entire body, focusing on strengthening the ab and arm muscles at the same time. A great bodyweight chest exercise you can do at home if you don’t have access to dumbbells.

Targets: Full body; primarily the abs, core, lower back, shoulder, chest, triceps and quads.

How to do It:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold this high plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Then drop your left forearm to the mat. Followed by dropping your right forearm to the mat; so you are now in a low plank or forearm plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
  4. Exhale as you push yourself back up to the starting high plank position; starting with your left arm and following with your right arm, while trying to maintain stable hips, square to the ground.
  5. Repeat this alternating forearm drop, leading with your right hand and following with your left hand.

Train your chest for better overall strength

We hope this has convinced you to start training your chest Implementing these exercises, along with push-ups and other chest variations, into your training routine will help you build up strength in your chest and your entire body.

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