Exercises to produce your best chest

Inside your chest are pectoralis major and minor muscles

Having a strong chest not only looks nice, it’s also good for a lot of things. Today we go over five great exercises to build a stronger chest.

Inside your chest are pectoralis major and minor muscles.

These muscles are involved in movement of the arms, breathing, maintaining posture and supporting the back muscles. You use your chest muscles to push, lift or swing objects. Strong chest muscles are part of having total upper body strength that makes life easier and protects against injury.

A well-balanced weight-lifting routine will include a variety of exercises that work your pecs.

Varying the angle, movement or type of resistance in chest exercises works different parts of the chest muscles and helps develop the chest you want. If you’re interested in getting strong through your chest, here are a few of the most common chest exercises to choose from.

Flat bench dumbbell press. Lie on your back on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Raise each weight up in the air so your arms are extended at shoulder-width and your palms are facing forward.

From this position, bend your elbows down to each side until your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Raise the weights and straighten your arms, bringing the weights together.

Low-incline barbell bench press. An inclined bench helps target your upper chest and shoulder muscles.

Lie on a bench angled to 45-degrees and place your feet firmly on the floor. Hold the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width. Straighten your arms and hold the bar over your shoulders. Now, lower the bar toward your upper chest until your elbows are bent to a 45-degree angle.

As you press your feet into the ground, forcefully press the bar up and straighten your arms. Repeat.

Seated chest press machine. The movements of the chest press machine target your pectoral muscles as well as your arm, shoulder and back muscles.

Adjust the weights on the machine and then sit with your feet placed firmly on the floor shoulder-width apart. Hold the handles and push the bars forward using steady, controlled movements, taking care not to lock your elbows.

Hold for a couple seconds and then let the bars return to their starting position. If your back starts to arch, you may be using too much weight.

Incline bench cable fly. Cables provide continuous tension to work against through the full range of motion, and the cable fly exercise targets your pecs and triceps.

Set an incline bench between two pulleys attached to a cable crossover machine.

Adjust the handles to their lowest position. Lie on your back on the bench and place your feet firmly on the floor. Holding a pulley handle in each hand over your chest, extend your arms and turn your palms toward each other. Now lower the weights out to each side until your arms are level with the ground. Raise your arms back up and repeat.

Dips. A highly effective chest exercise if done correctly, dips require access to a set of parallel bars.

Position yourself between the bars, grasp a bar in each hand, and hold your body up by locking your arms. Now, lower your body while leaning forward to a 30-degree angle and letting your elbows flare out slightly.

Feel the stretch in your chest and then use your chest muscles to raise your body back up to starting position. Repeat. If necessary, use a dip assist machine or a spotter to hold your legs.

And ladies, don’t be scared of chest exercises!

Chest exercises are important for women, too. They improve posture, support surrounding muscles, make everyday activities easier and burn calories.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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