Chest Exercises: These Include Your Entire Upper Body. Bottom Line? Important!

Getting Started with Chest Exercises

Developing powerful pecs through chest exercises is one of the most sought-after appearances by body builders and/or general fitness gurus. As a matter of fact, most men tend to overtrain their pecs. In contrast, most women are afraid of working their chest in fear of feeling or looking "manly". Why would this be?

Well, having a large chest gives a "strong-like-bull" appearance - seemingly invincible and immovable, a warrior in training if you will. In most cases, people see bigger as being better from an aesthetic standpoint. In fact, many men seek pectoral implants more often than "other" enlargements. If you want a big chest so badly, why don't you just get to the gym and do some chest exercises?

What are you waiting for? It's your time to shine!

Don't run away yet, ladies!

A strong chest is as important for you as it is for men! Doing a set of bench press doesn't necessarily mean you'll bulk up like Schwarzenegger. It's the method and not the simple act of working out your chest that'll steer you towards the goal you want whether you want to bulk up or tone up!

For the Ladies!

You may have read in magazines, online or in newspaper articles that working your pectoral muscles will give you bigger breasts. This is, in fact a myth. Breast tissue is mostly fatty substance with webs of lactiferous ducts for making milk. There's no muscle tissue there, except for the smooth muscle that forces milk through each little duct.

What I'm getting at is that you can't perform any specific exercise to actually cause your breasts to enlarge. But, working your pectoral muscles can help lift the breasts, giving them a more aesthetic appearance. No, your breasts will not actually enlarge, but they may appear larger since they're lifted. Don't fall for the marketing scams telling you the breasts will actually get bigger after doing their specific chest exercises.

To do this, strengthening all parts of the chest can be beneficial, whether it's pushups, dumbbell press or anything that brings your hands together, as in a cable crossover. They can all help!

As with any other workout program, start off slowly. Begin with a single set of between 10-15 reps (you want the last 3 reps to be difficult!). As you gain strength, add in a few more sets and a little more weight. Remember, don't do the same exercises every time - your muscles will adapt to the movement and you'll hit a plateau.

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Benefits of Chest Exercises

So I've gotten pretty detailed with your pecs so far - where they are and what they do - but what are the real life benefits to chest workouts? Why should you head for the bench press at the gym?

  • You'll be able to push more stuff! Whether it's a heavy shopping cart or a tackling dummy, you'll get more bang for the buck.
  • Remember that your pecs are also there to stabilize the shoulder joint (also known as the glenohumeral joint). Many debilitating shoulder injuries can be avoided if you just do some chest exercises!
  • Men like to work their chests, and women like their men to have big chests. So there's the aesthetic factor and possibly the motivation. With everything in consideration, be realistic with your goals!
  • As you may already know, there are chest exercises known as bench press, incline press and decline press. What's the purpose of this?

    To make a long story short, inclined, declined and flat bench presses work your upper, lower and middle pectoral regions, respectively. Easy, right?

    Here's a more detailed explanation...

    Let's take the example of just laying on a flat bench. In this case, you'll be focusing most of the work on the center of your pectorals. This is sometimes called the "sternal" portion of the Pec major because it's near the sternum (a.k.a the breastbone). Now let's adjust the bench so that you're angled more towards the ceiling in an inclined position. What have you done?

    Now that your pressing angle is more inclined in relation to your body, the upper part of the pecs are more in focus. Some people may refer to this as the "clavicular" portion of the Pec major (because it's near the clavicle or collar bone). Declining the bench in the same manner places more attention on the fibers lower on the pectorals. The declined press is often overlooked in chest workouts because this only works a small part of the muscle. It's still important nonetheless.

    Your pectorals are large muscles and therefore require more work to maintain. In other words, you should do more sets with larger muscles than for smaller ones. For example, you may want to do between 4 and 10 sets of chest exercises (not all of the same exercise!) in each workout. If you're just beginning, however, you should just start with one or two sets to avoid injury, avoid overtraining and avoid a weight plateau.

    Did you catch that? Remember, do not overwork any individual muscle! This is a sure-fire way to fail quickly. Vary your workout and do some different exercises in each session to make sure you're getting full benefit out of your chest exercises.

    Yes, I know you're anxious to get under the bar and bench about 600 pounds, but even the biggest and strongest bodybuilders on the planet start with a warm up routine, mostly consisting of stretches and lifting very light weights.

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    What To Do First?

    Let's take a moment to think about it - which exercise should you do when you first get to the gym and most energized? The same thing applies to work or any other activity. You'd normally choose the one that requires the most effort so you can get it out of the way. In the case of weight lifting and strength training, getting the difficult exercises done first is a way to get through the sets. If you saved them until last after you've been working out for 45-60 minutes, it's likely you'll be too tired to finish the difficult exercise.

    On that note, it's important to change the order in which you do your chest exercises in successive workouts. Why? Your body adjusts to a stimulus. If you keep changing the stimulus load and frequency (as outlined in a periodization workout), your muscles must be ready for everything at all times. This means you'll be stronger for longer! Do the difficult exercises earlier in the workout and save the less-difficult exercises for afterwards. When this routine settles in, switch it up! The key is to keep changing the stimulus.

    Let's also take the example of always performing the flat bench press before your chest flys. Chances are that you'll never have full strength during your chest flys because you've already worn yourself out with the bench press. In other words, this is a fantastic way to reach a plateau, if that's what you're into.

    Have variation to your workouts! This doesn't only apply to chest exercises, but also to any other muscle group and often many aspects of life. After all, who wants to constantly do the same thing? Even if this is what your job entails, enjoy some variation at the gym!

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    A great way to add variety is to integrate pushup workouts into your daily routine. These are excellent exercises that are cheap and extremely versatile. Not only do the mostly work the chest and arms, but they also engage the core muscles to ensure stability, flexibility and overall strength. Check the table below for some great pushup variations!
    Pushup Styles
    Standard Pushup Stability Ball Pushup Resistance Tube Pushup
    Dive Bomber Pushup Hindu Pushup Wobble Board Pushup
    Diamond Pushup One-Handed Pushups BOSU Ball Pushup
    Military Pushup T Pushup Sphinx Pushups
    Weighted Vest Pushup w/ Hip Flexion Stability Ball Pushup Walk

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    Man Boobs

    Most guys who do chest workouts and develop a strong chest worry about developing some hot "moobs" when they eventually stop lifting. If you haven't heard this term, it's a man with a bosom.

    How did this come about? Well, a lot of guys who stop lifting tend to gain weight in their later years or mid-life crisis. They say they'll develop breasts that jiggle more than their wives' and feel they should start investing in the "Bro" coined by Kramer in the Seinfeld sitcom (instead of a bra...O.K., not funny). The fact of the matter is that this is a complete myth and untrue!

    Basically, if you stop exercising, you'll get fat everywhere, not just in your chest. If man's breasts have grown, chances are that his whole body has grown to match. Just keep yourself on track and you won't have to worry!

    In the grand scheme of things, this is purely an aesthetic concern. No matter your age, body type, gender, walk of l ife or job description, it's important to work your chest, legs, arms and everything else in order to give yourself a chance at a long, healthy life.

    A Final Note

    This rather large body of text may be somewhat daunting, but have no fear! Doing chest workouts aren't hard or particularly dangerous. Many of the things I've mentioned to avoid can cause damage over the long term. However, when performing chest exercises or any sort of free weight or barbell workout, it's highly recommended to use a spotter. Use the right amount of weight and don't get stuck under the bar! For more information on weight lifting safety, try this page.

    Now, for the chest workouts...

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    The Chest Exercises

    Let's get your chest workouts started! I've provided some illustrations, pointers and techniques for the most common chest exercises in the table below. Enjoy! (many more coming soon!)

    Chest Exercises
    About Your Chest Muscles Chest Workout Mistakes and Blunders!
    Free WeightsMachinesNo Weights
    Dumbbell Fly Cable Crossover Pushup Workouts
    Barbell Overhead Pull Overhead Pulley
    Bench Press Smith Machine Hand Step Drill
    Dumbbell Press
    Declined Press Bent-Arm Pullover (Pulley) Dips
    Declined Dumbbell Press
    Bent-Arm Pullover
    Inclined Dumbbell Press

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    Let's also take the example of always performing the flat bench press before your chest flys. Chances are that you'll never have full strength during your …...

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