Chest strength is about more than physical definition – strong chest muscles can help improve posture, benefit breathing, and support surrounding muscles and joints. Whilebuilding muscleIt can take time, developing a strong chest doesn't have to be time-consuming: the key is knowing which exercises to prioritize. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of pectoral muscles and discover seven different chest exercises recommended by personal trainers. FEATURED PARTNER OFFER Partner Deals feature brands that have paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where your products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our rankings, which are based on thorough research, sound methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Download on iOS or Android
Caliber free workout planner and tracker
FEATURED PARTNER OFFER
Partner Deals feature brands that have paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where your products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our rankings, which are based on thorough research, sound methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.
Download on iOS or Android
What are chest muscles?
Before learning exercises to strengthen the chest muscles, it is important to know what (and where) these muscles are. “The chest muscles are made up of the pectoralis major and minor, as well as the serratus anterior, subclavius, and intercostals,” says Corinne Croce, co-founder of Body Evolved, a physical therapy and personal training studio in New York City.
Each of these muscles is located in a different area of the chest and is different in shape and size.
- Pectoralis major:The largest muscle on the anterior chest wall, the pectoralis major
is located under the breast tissue and forms the anterior chest wall of the space below
- pectoralis minor:The pectoralis minor is a triangular-shaped muscle located below the pectoralis major.
- Fore serrated:This muscle extends from the first rib to the eighth or ninth rib on the side wall of the chest (located between the neck and abdomen) and along the scapula (a triangular-shaped bone in the upper back).
- Sub-chave:This small triangular muscle is located in the shoulders and elevates the first rib.
- Intercostals:These muscles constitute different groups of muscles located between the ribs and form the chest wall.
Why are chest muscles important?
The chest muscles play several important roles, says Tatiana Lampa, a corrective exercise specialist and certified personal trainer. “The chest muscles are responsible for pulling the arms away from the body or the body away from the arms,” she says. Throwing a ball, putting a child in a crib, getting up off the floor, or picking something up from a high shelf all involve the chest muscles.
In addition, properly balanced pectoral muscles are key to maintaininggood posturebecause they support shoulder and spine function, which in turn helps keep the body upright. Having a strong chest also increases lung function, as developed pectoral muscles improve breathing.
Explore our featured fitness partners
|company logo||Forbes Health Reviews||see more||learn_more_cta_below_text||To know more|
|Free workout planner and tracker||TRY THE FREE APP||Download on iOS or Android||https://caliber.app.link/forbes-health" rel="nofollow"|
|modernized personal training||START||No site do Future||https://futurefitness.pxf.io/c/1955282/1203983/13946" rel="nofollow"|
|Custom run training app||START||No site do Joggo||https://kilohealth.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=33&aff_id=3054&url_id=254" rel="nofollow"|
How to develop strong pectoral muscles
When it comes to building strong pectoral muscles, it's all about consistency, says Lampa. It is also important to work on the chest muscles. “You still need to build strength and stability in other muscle groups to support your chest, especially your shoulders, back, and core,” adds Croce.
Diaphragmatic breathing and other breathing exercises are also an important part of developing strong pectoral muscles – by strengthening the diaphragm, they make it easier to perform the pectoral exercises themselves.
7 best chest exercises recommended by fitness experts
1. Traditional Pushups
Start on your hands and knees, with your knees a few inches apart and your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Stretch your arms and legs out so that your knees are no longer on the floor, putting you in a high plank position. Slowly lower your body, keeping your head, neck, shoulders, back and legs in a straight line, until your chest is a few inches off the floor. Use your chest and arms to return to the starting position. Repeat this movement eight to 10 times for two to three sets.
To modify a pushup, place your knees on the floor and navigate the upper body in the same motion.
“Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises and you don't need any equipment,” says Lampa. Push-ups not only engage your chest muscles, but also your core, upper back, and shoulders, which is key.
2. Scapular flexions
For this pushup variation, start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet a few inches apart. Keeping your back and arms straight, slowly squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other and then release them. The body should only move up and down slightly – less than during a traditional push-up. Do two to three sets of eight to 10 shoulder curls.
You can modify this exercise by placing your knees on the floor.
“Scapular flexions are great for targeting the serratus anterior (muscle),” says Croce.
3. Chest press with wide grip
Necessary equipment:Dumbbells, weight bench (optional)
Lie down with your back flat on the floor or on a weight bench. Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Place your arms in a cactus formation, so that each arm is at a 90-degree angle, with your hands about 3 inches wider than your shoulders. Start with bent elbows. As you exhale, press the dumbbells directly above your chest. Inhale as you lower both dumbbells in a controlled motion to the starting position. Complete two to three sets of 10 repetitions.
To modify this exercise, alternate lifting the dumbbells instead of lifting them simultaneously.
A wide chest press engages the pectoralis major, shoulders, and triceps muscles. This can be done with a barbell, but Croce recommends starting with dumbbells that are a comfortable weight for your body.fitnesslevel and strength.
4. Close grip chest press
Necessary equipment:Dumbbells, weight bench (optional)
A narrow-grip chest press engages slightly different muscles than a wide-grip chest press, targeting the lower chest and shoulders. It is performed in the same manner as a wide chest press, except that the hands should be shoulder-width apart and no more.
Similar to the wide-grip bench press, lie with your back flat on the floor or on a weight bench, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. This time, instead of keeping your hands wider than your shoulders, keep them shoulder-width apart. Hold the weights just above your chest. Start with your elbows bent and exhale as you push the dumbbells above your chest. Inhale as you lower both dumbbells in a controlled motion, holding them directly over your chest. Complete two to three sets of 10 repetitions.
As with the wide-grip chest press, you can modify this movement by alternating lifting the dumbbells instead of lifting them simultaneously.
5. Supine inclined
Necessary equipment:Weight bench, barbell (or dumbbells, to modify the movement)
Lie down on a weight bench with a 30-degree incline. Place your hands on the bar with your palms facing up. Extend your arms, raising the bar until it is above your shoulders. Slowly bring the bar back to your chest. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise in two to three sets.
To modify this exercise, use dumbbells with a weight you can comfortably lift, placing a dumbbell in each hand and performing the exercise in the same manner.
“This exercise works the pectoralis major,” says Lampa. "It's another great exercise to strengthen your upper chest."
6. Flies on the corporal's chest
Necessary equipment:Cable machine (or weight bench and dumbbells, to modify the movement)
Stand with your back to the cable machine and hold the cable handles. Place one foot in front of the other, leaning forward slightly. Keep your spine straight. Keeping your arms slightly bent, pull the handles in front of your chest toward each other until your hands meet, then slowly release, allowing both arms to return to the starting position at the same time. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise. After 10 to 15 repetitions, switch foot positions and repeat the exercise for a second set.
If flying the chest with a cable machine seems too strenuous, use a flat bench and dumbbells, says Lampa. Lie down on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and a dumbbell in each hand. Start with both arms extended to each side and elbows slightly bent. Your palms should be facing the ceiling. As you exhale, bring both arms above your chest so that your hands meet in the center. Inhale as you slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times for two to three sets.
Lampa recommends this exercise to work the pectoralis major and minor. “Using the cable is a great way to maintain weight tension,” she says.
7. Tricep dips
Necessary equipment:An elevated flat surface, such as a chair, couch, or weight bench
Press your palms into a chair, couch, weight bench, or other flat, elevated, stable surface. Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your bottom should be hovering over the chair or couch. Starting with straight arms, bend your elbows and lower your body until your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle, keeping them snug against your body. Use your pectoralis major muscles, triceps, and shoulders to return to the starting position, keeping your core engaged. Complete 10 to 15 reps for two to three sets. FEATURED PARTNER OFFER Partner Deals feature brands that have paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where your products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our rankings, which are based on thorough research, sound methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Get the first month for $19 ($130 off)Promotion automatically applied at checkout. No site do Future
Future – Personalized digital physical training
FEATURED PARTNER OFFER
Get the first month for $19 ($130 off)Promotion automatically applied at checkout.
No site do Future
The triceps dip can also be done on the floor instead of an elevated flat surface, says Lampa. “It's a smaller range of motion, but it still targets the [same muscles],” she says. To do this modification, she places her feet and hands on the floor with her fingers facing her body. Bend your elbows and lift your toes so that only your heels are on the floor. Extend your arms, straighten your elbows and press into your heels at the same time, pushing your buttocks off the floor. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your back to the starting position, hovering slightly above the floor. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps and complete two to three sets.
“Triceps dips are another great bodyweight exercise to incorporate because they work the chest, shoulders, and triceps,” says Lampa.
the end result
Chest exercises don't have to be complicated, and some don't even require equipment. With consistent practice and repetition, your chest will get stronger and you'll likely notice improvements in your posture and breathing as well.
Transform your fitness with science-based training
Download the free Caliber app and discover how the average member achieves at least a 20% improvement in their body composition in 3 months.
Download on iOS or Android