What is a great exercise to strengthen my chest muscles?

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Keeping your chest strong helps tone the rest of your body. In this video, personal fitness trainer Joel Harper demonstrates challenging yet rewarding chest exercises.
Brian Floyd
Fitness

A great exercise that helps strength the muscles of the chest is a stability ball, dumbbell chest press. This exercise not only target your chest but also forces you to really engage your abdominals so that you can keep that spine neutral and hips up. 

  1. To perform this exercise lie on top af a stability ball with only your head and back shoulder are only touching the ball.  
  2. You then want to lift your hips up, creating a bridge position. To maintain this position make sure you squeeze your glutes and pull that belly button down. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. 
  3. In each hand you will be holding a dumbbell. Begin by pressing both dumbbelss up and together, full extension and hold the top position. Then return dumbbells to the starting positon and then repeat for about 12-20 reps. 
To strengthen the chest and the core I like to use the physioball alternating dumbbell chest press.  Simply position the physioball between the "shoulder blades" and perform a bridge (start with feet shoulder width apart, raise your buttocks so it is in line by tightening your glutes. Remember your body must be flat with no sagging of the buttocks).  Next raise both dumbbells above the chest like you would perform a normal chest press or bench.  Then lower one arm down while keeping the other arm straight, then alternate.  You may have to lower the weight on this exercise until you become stronger through the core. This exercise not only isolates and strengthens the chest muscles or pectoralis muscles but it also strengthens the core at the same time.

The pushup is a great exercise to strengthen your chest muscles. And there are many ways you can change up the exercise for great results.

For instance...

  • you can raise your feet up off the ground. 
  • You can do your pushups on a blue BOSU ball.
  • You can do one arm push ups.

All of these adaptations will increase the use of stabilizer muscles in your body as well as strengthen your chest, arms, and shoulders.

The Bench Press is another great exercise for your chest, and can be modified in many ways too.

With a barbell, you can do bench presses on a

  • flat bench
  • incline bench
  • decline bench

By changing the bench position, you will be working the upper, mid and lower chest.

You can also mix it up by using dumbells in place of a barbell.

This will require using stabilizer muscles which will increase the intensity of your overall workout, in addition to strengthening those chest muscles you are trying to target.

For building chest strength the barbell bench press is one of, if not the best exercises.  To perform the standard bench press lie down on the bench with feet flat on the floor.  Grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip.  Lower the bar to your chest keeping your elbows out.  As you push the bar backup, contract your chest muscle and fully extend your arms.  Make sure not to arch your back or lift your head off the bench as you press the weight up.  The same exercise can be performed with dummbells but requires stabilizing each hand independent of each other as opposed to in unison as is done with the barbell.  This means you will use a lower weight with the dumbbells.

A great exercise to strengthen your chest is the seated chest press machine. 1) Begin by sitting in the machine and looking to see if any adjustments must be made to the seat. 2) Select the desired weight. 3) Grasp handles with elbows out to the side. 4) Press the handles out until arms are extended. 5) Return to original position. 6) Repeat steps until desired amount of repetitions is achieved.

A great exercise to stregthen your chest muscles as well as the core is the stagger stance cable chest press: alternate-arm.  Perform this exercise by following the technique described below. Stand in front of a cable machine with your back to the weight stack, feet straight and in a staggered stance while keeping the back leg straight and front leg bent.  Hold a cable in each hand at chest level with palms facing down toward the floor, elbows bent and slightly below shoulder level.  Next, press both cables forward, fully straightening the arms without jutting the head forward.  Return one cable to the start position and then press it forward again; repeat the same sequence with the other arm.  Perform the desired number of repetitions based on your program goals and fitness level.  This exercise can also be performed with tubing if cables are unavailable.  An alternative exercise for the chest that will provide a similar effect is the dumbbell chest press: alternate-arm.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise Programs

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.