Have you ever bench pressed? Probably not, it’s not an exercise that women are drawn to. But you should consider adding chest training, and specifically chest strengthening exercises to your fitness program. Training your back, arms and upper body without training your chest leads to imbalances.
Strength training your chest will not only train your pectorals, the large muscles across your chest, but will also strengthen your wrists, arms and shoulders. When pressing with a barbell or dumbbells, never arch your back, keep it flat against the bench and your feet firmly planted. Never bounce the bar off your chest!
Finally, there is a bonus calorie burn. Since the chest is a large muscle area, training your chest will burn more calories than training the smaller muscle groups. Chest exercises burn more fat and promote to a better rate of burning fat!
Start with these 5 basic chest strength builders:
Start with this effective chest, shoulder and arm exercise. Remember to keep your back straight from neck to ankles. Once you master this regular pushup, vary your hand or foot placement to change the difficulty, intensity and angle. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
2. Flat Bench Press
The flat bench is the gold standard of resistance chest exercises. Lay on the bench with your grip on the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your elbows to your sides as you press. Always control the movement in both directions, don’t just allow the bar to drop to your chest. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
3. Incline Bench Press
Increase the angle of your bench to 30-45 degrees and perform your presses. incline bench is designed to work your upper chest. As you increase the angle you will find that you need to decrease the weight as the focus shifts from larger chest muscles to smaller shoulder muscles. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
4. Decline Bench Press
This time you will angle the bench downward to work your lower chest. You can use a barbell or dumbbells to perform this exercise. If you are just beginning, start with the barbell to become familiar with the movement and then switch to dumbbells to add a degree of difficulty. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
5. Dumbbell Flyes
Flyes simulate cable exercises and work the inner chest, regular dumbbell flyes are performed on a flat bench. Hold your arms out and elbows slightly bent, while performing a flying motion. When lowering the dumbbells, do not go past the level of the bench, as it may cause an overextension injury. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.