First up, let’s get one thing straight: exercising pecs isn’t just for men. Resistance training is about overall coverage, not just picking and choosing the muscle groups that you are best at. One of the reasons you may not exercise your chest is because, along with everyone else, you prefer to stick to your strengths. Plus, if you’re not an upper body workout veteran, chest exercises won’t feel as natural.
However, it’s about starting somewhere and repeating until you improve, and there are plenty of benefits to reap from exercising your chest as a female. We’ve investigated the benefits of exercising your chest, plus the 7 best chest exercises for women both at home and in the gym.
Why Should Women Exercise Their Chest?
A common misconception is that breasts come into the equation. Chest exercises develop your pec muscles, which are located beneath your breasts. Bench pressing won’t make your boobs bigger or smaller, but can lift them naturally.
Another point well worth addressing is that if the ripped chest look is something you’re not keen on, there’s probably someone lifting heavier, doing more reps trying to desperately get a ripped chest somewhere near you in the gym who will be very impressed if you manage it over night. Chest exercises aren’t all about max strength lifts and power lifting.
There are many reasons that women should exercise their chest. By neglecting your chest workout, you risk muscular imbalances, which can lead to bad posture and difficulty performing other exercises that your pecs play a part in without you realising. Chest strength is your pushing strength, and without working on it, those muscles will diminish.
It’s not just your chest, either. Many chest exercises tone and tighten your abs, along with your triceps, biceps, and deltoids. And, once again, if you’re concerned about getting bigger, know that with your pecs being a pretty big muscle group you will be burning a lot of calories working all of those muscle fibres.
So, where do you begin? Keep reading for the best chest exercises for women at home and in the gym.
Best Chest Exercises for Women at Home
It’s not always possible to get to the gym. Be it budget or your commute, it’s always good to have an arsenal of exercises that you can use at home for when you need a workout and getting to the gym isn’t an option.
Home workouts can be as effective as a gym workout, but it’s all about making your bodyweight and muscles do the work that equipment usually would. You’ll be pleased to know that it needn’t be all that complex, either.
We recommend the following exercises as the best chest exercises for women at home:
1. Wide Press-Ups
Muscles worked: Pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps.
Wide press-ups function more or less the same as a standard press-up, recruiting much of your pectoral muscles.
1. Begin in the usual position and place your hands wider than your shoulders, keeping them in line with your shoulders.
2. Engage your abs and keep them tight, keeping your back straight and hips not sagging inwards or upwards. Slowly press down as low as you can go, then push back up into the starting postition.
3. Begin with 3 sets of 10 reps.
2. Decline Press-Ups
Muscles worked: Upper pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps.
For decline press-ups, also known as feet-elevated press-ups, you’ll need to use a platform like your bed or your chair, keeping in mind that the higher the platform is the more difficult it will be. But that’s what you’re after, right?
1. Place your toes on the raised platform with your palms on the floor and perform press-ups with your body in this declining position. Press down as far as you can go, keeping your body straight and core engaged.
2. Push back up to the starting position.
3. You can also flip this all around and do incline push-ups, with your toes on the floor and palms on a raised platform.
4. Begin with 3 sets of 8 reps.
3. Isometric Chest Exercise
For this one you need nothing but the space to stand, meaning you can do it just about anywhere.
1. Stand upright with your feet apart and shoulders relaxed.
2. Press your palms together with your fingers in opposite directions in front of your chest so that your hands are resisting one another.
3. Push your hands together with as much pressure as you can generate and hold the pose for a count of fifteen.
4. Switch the direction of your palms and hold for another fifteen. This counts as one rep.
5. Begin with 3 sets of 10.
Best Chest Exercises for Women in the Gym
So if you can achieve all of that without equipment, there’ll be no stopping you with a whole gym filled with benches, weights and cables, right? These are the four best chest exercsuses for women in the gym:
1. Seated Dumbbell Flye
1. Sit on a bench with your spine upright, your legs shoulder-width apart with your feet flat on the floor and your shoulders rolled back.
2. Keep your abs engaged and take the reward of an additional workout on your core.
3. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, begin with your arms at your sides.
4. Take a breath and breathe out as you raise your straight arms until your arms are level with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your hands.
5. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps with the weight that leaves you struggling towards the last couple of reps of each set.
2. Lying Chest Flye
Make the most of a stability/ yoga ball with these. Using stability balls means engaging all the smaller muscles in your core that you neglect, which help to keep you balanced.
1. Holding light dumbbells in each hand, sit on the stability ball with your feet wider than your shoulders and your back straight.
2. Steadily walk your feet until the back of your shoulders are touching the ball and you are facing the ceiling. Your chest and lower abs should be at the same level.
3. Extend your arms straight out as you would on a bench press, spread your arms and begin to perform a fly, lowering the dumbbells until they’re level with your chest before raising them again.
4. Raise your arms straight above your chest, with the palms facing each other, and look straight up.
5. Exhale and spread your arms, making a flying motion, and lower them till the dumbbells are at level with your chest. 6 Inhale and bring your arms back up to the starting position.
6. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
3. Incline Dumbbell Press
1. Keeping with dumbbells, grab a bench and set it at an angle, picking a slightly heavier but comfortable weight.
2. Lie on the incline with your back straight and shoulders pushed back.
3. Push the dumbbells out in an inverted “V” from the sides of your chest.
4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
4. Barbell Bench Press
1. Moving on to a barbell, lie on the bench with your back straight and abs tight.
2. Place your feet flat on the floor wider than shoulder-width apart.
3. Inhale and slowly press the barbell upwards by straightening your elbows. Exhale as you lower the bar to your chest.
4. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
Take Home Message
Chest exercises benefit everyone. It’s not about breasts and mass muscle gains, it’s about pecs and strength-building, posture-correcting, toning and calorie burning. Best of all, chest exercises are something you can do with or without equipment, at home or as part of your routine at the gym.