How do I perform a chest press?

Lie face-up on a flat bench or the floor, with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Grasp two dumbbells and, with your palms turned away from your face, bring your elbows to shoulder level so they rest just above your armpits.

Press both dumbbells up, directly over your chest, moving them toward each other so the sides of the dumbbells are gently touching at the top. Feel a contraction in your chest muscles.

Slowly reverse direction, returning to the starting position. Lying on a bench works the chest muscles a bit more at the bottom of the movement.
Lay down on a bench press machine or sit up right, with back and head flat on the bench eyes looking straight ahead. Grip the bar with an approximately shoulder width grip and take the bar off the rack and bring the bar until it is directly over the shoulder and chest area.  Lower the bar while inhaling, until the bar is directly over the middle of the chest with your arms folded directly by your side. Once the bar touches the chest, exhale out, and push the bar back up in one swift motion.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
To strengthen your chest muscles you can do the chest press exercise using free weights.

Primary muscle group worked: Pectoralis major (chest)

Secondary muscle groups worked: Anterior deltoid (front shoulder)

Starting position: Taking a free weight in each hand, lie on the floor, holding the weights close to your chest. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on a bench or the floor. (If using a bench, you may place your feet on the floor as long as your feet can rest comfortably without causing the lower back to arch excessively.) Press the weights straight up from your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Bring the weights close together.

Action: Keep your shoulder blades drawn together, a natural arch in your lower back, your navel pulled in towards your spine, elbows slightly bent and wrists firm. Slowly lower the weights out to the side until your elbows are even with your shoulders or the bench. Hold for one count. Exhale while slowly bringing your arms towards each other as you raise them upward until they reach the starting position.


  • Do not lower your arms beneath the level of the bench (not a problem if you are doing this on the floor).
  • Keep the weight on the lighter side for this exercise. Do not use as much weight as you would for the chest press.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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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.