Engaging in regular exercise is a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, and cycling are a great way to stay in shape but targeting certain muscle groups should also be a part of your fitness routine. While you’ve surely thought about training your arms and legs, have you considered how you can strengthen other areas of your body like your chest?
Chest workouts for women not only benefit the chest but can also improve the strength of your back muscles. These muscles work together to keep you upright and encourage good posture. Additionally, strong pectoral muscles support overall upper-body strength. This is essential for daily activities like pushing strollers, shopping carts, and opening heavy doors. So if you’re ready to give your chest a workout, then give these 10 chest exercises a try!
Push-ups are a simple yet very effective exercise that not only strengthens your chest but works your whole body. Don’t feel intimidated by a push-up either. There are several variations you can try from wall push-ups to knee push-ups and traditional push-ups. There is something for everyone at every fitness level.
When performing a traditional push-up, start in a plank position. Next, engage your core and glutes and ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders. Then, lower your chest and quads while keeping your elbows behind you, not flaring out wide. Once you reach the ground, push back up into a plank position and repeat for four sets of eight repetitions.
A chest press can be performed on a bench or lying on the floor — your choice! The benefit of lying on the floor is that you’ll place less strain on your shoulders.
Begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have dumbbells at home, get creative and use water bottles or soup cans — anything with a bit of weight that you can hold comfortably.
Next, lie on the floor or the bench and press your feet into the floor (if you’re on the floor bend your knees). Draw your shoulders back and down while you lift the dumbbells overhead. The weights should be directly above your shoulders with your palms facing forward. As you inhale, lower the weights slightly wider than your mid-chest. On the exhale, push back up towards the ceiling. Repeat for four sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
Note: Your shoulders, head, and butt should be touching the floor or bench during the whole exercise.
Closed-Grip Chest Press
This exercise is similar to a traditional chest press except you’ll switch up your grip to really focus on strengthening your pecs in each rep. Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Next, hold a weight in each hand with your plans facing each other. Keep the weights together and then press the weights up over your chest until your arms are straight. Then slowly reverse the motion to bring the weights back to the starting position. Try to repeat for three to five sets of 12 reps.
Note: During this exercise, keep your lower back pressed into the floor.
A renegade row, also known as a plank row, is a great exercise that targets not only your chest, but your shoulders, triceps, back, and core too. Use a set of weights and go into a straight-arm plank position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep in mind, the weights should be directly below your shoulders.
Next, bend your right elbow and lift the weight up to your chest while keeping your elbow close to your body. Note, your hips should not be moving during the exercise. Then, in a slow, controlled movement, lower the weight back to the starting position. Then repeat with your left arm and that counts as one repetition. Try to repeat for four sets of eight reps.
Isometric Chest Squeeze
An isometric chest squeeze is a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen your chest and back. Begin in a standing position with one foot slightly in front of the other and your hips facing forward. Next, hold a pair of weights together at chest height while keeping your elbows bent and palms facing inward.
While squeezing the weights together, press them straight up until your elbows are just slightly above your shoulders. Hold this position for five seconds and feel the burn! Then slowly return to the starting position. Try to repeat four sets of eight to 12 reps.
A standing Y raise exercise targets your chest and shoulders and can help strengthen your up body. Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and hold a pair of weights in front of your thighs.
Next, engage your core and draw your shoulders down and back as you lift the weights above your head in a “Y” position. Slowly return the weights down. Try to repeat for four sets of 20 reps.
Hook punches are a boxing move that focuses on strengthening your chest. It’s also a great move to get your heart rate up!
Stand in a boxing stance and bend your right arm at a 90-degree angle. Next, swing your arm across your body and curve your hand. A “hook” is usually aimed at the jaw of an opponent but since you’ll be performing this exercise solo, use your imagination. Repeat with the opposite arm and that’s one rep. Try to repeat for four sets of 12 reps.
Note: During the exercise, rotate your hips and pivot your knee for extra power. You should also try to keep your arm close to your body to help make the punch more powerful.
Lying Chest Fly
A chest fly is great for opening your chest muscles and may help reduce upper back pain and increase your range of motion. This exercise can be performed on a bench or the floor — your choice!
Begin by lying on the floor (0r bench) with a weight in each hand and your feet flat on the floor. Your elbows should be angled about 45-degrees away from your body. Next press your back into the floor (or bench), engage your core and draw your hands together just above your chest. Be sure to maintain a slight bend in your arms.
Slowly return to the starting position and that counts as one rep. Try to repeat for four sets of 12 reps.
Rear Lateral Raises
A rear lateral raise is a great exercise to help strengthen and stabilize your shoulders and upper body. This is essential for daily tasks that require pressing, pulling, and overhead movements. Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
Next, hold a weight in each hand with our palms facing forward. Bend your knees, and press your hips back while bringing your torso almost parallel with the ground. Keep your core engaged and without moving your torso, raise your arms straight out to the sides to shoulder height. Hold this position for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position. Try to repeat for four sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Plank Shoulder Taps
This exercise engages your chest, shoulders, triceps, and lower back. You’ll begin in a plank position. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and engage your glutes and core.
Next, tap your right shoulder with your left hand and then return to the plank position. Repeat on the other side and that counts as one rep. Try to repeat for four sets of 10 reps.
Note: Ensure you keep your body straight during this exercise and avoid twisting your pelvis.