The chest muscle group is one of the major muscle groups of the body and chest exercises are an important part of a complete, total body workout.
If you’re in a hurry, you can do a simple chest press, a lat row, and an abdominal exercise, and have your entire upper body workout done in less than 10 minutes. This is because the chest press brings your arms and shoulders into the workout, as does the lat row.
In the exercise video above, Matt and I show how to perform these exercises while protecting your neck and back from injury so you can work out long into the future without pain.
The added bonus that not many people know is that if you’re doing these right you’re going to be using your abs, so you’ll get some core work in too. Two for one!
The Chest Muscles, also known as the Pectoralis Muscles, start from the breast bone and connect to the front of each arm bone (humerous).
Chest muscles pull your arms toward the mid-line of your body. It doesn’t matter what direction you’re coming from: if your arms are coming towards the center of your body, you’re using your chest.There are a variety of ways you can exercise these muscles, using your own body weight, weights, or an exercise band or tube.
Strong chest muscles are important to performing countless, daily tasks with ease, and they help us to do things like:
- hold an object up in front of you
- pick your baby out of the crib
- push an object forward
- close a door
- do push-ups
They’re key to upper body support and your ability to stand and sit upright and maintain good posture.
To get the most out of the exercises in the video:
- Move slowly through your entire range of motion to create maximum tension (about a 2-second push and a 2-second release).
- Hold it for a second at both the beginning and the end of the movement
To get the strength and tone that you’re looking for:
- Start out using a weight or band that allows you to do no more than 20 repetitions.
- If you can do more than 20 repetitions, it’s time to increase the weight or the tension.
- To get more muscle / more strength, aim for a weight that allows you to do a maximum of 8-12 repetitions no more.
- Research shows that no more than 2 sets of the above recommended repetitions are necessary for strength gains. Not to mention, it’s most time efficient!
Written Descriptions for Chest Press Exercise Video
Chest Press on a Bench
- With weight in each hand, lie on the bench and bring the elbows down to just below the shoulders. You should feel a slight stretch in your front shoulder, but not too much.
- Bring your rib cage back to touch the bottom ribs to the bench as much as possible. You’ll feel your abdominals activating slightly here.
- Keep the shoulder blades on the bench as much as possible throughout the exercise (even when you’re pushing the weight up).
- Press the weights up to straighten the arms. Keep the hands in line with the breastbone at the top.
Chest Press with a band
- Wrap the band around a sturdy post or tie a knot in the middle of the band and shut it firmly into a door
- Stand tall with abdomen slightly in, lower ribs pulled back, and shoulders back and down
- Start with the elbows back and the hands in line with the breastbone.
- Press the band forward to straighten the arms and bring the hands towards each other in front.
Chest Press on a Ball Do only if you have good balance, core strength, and are strong in the exercises above
- With weight in both hands, sit on the ball and then walk the feet forward until the back and neck are supported.
- Pull the abdomen slightly in.
- Place your weight on both sides of each foot evenly.
- Lengthen the spine by reaching the tailbone towards the knees.
Chest Press with one Foot on a Ball* *Do these at your own risk and only if you’ve successfully practiced other balancing exercises and have good core strength. You first must be able to do a plank on the floor, and push-ups on your toes. This is general information and does not in any way count as personalized instruction from us.
- Start by lying on your belly, on the ball.
- With a stable torso and in plank position, walk forward on your hands until your toes are on the ball.
- Keep the abdomen slightly in, ribs back, all leg muscles activated and knees straight.
- Place your hands in line with the breastbone and slightly wider than the shoulders.
- Only after the body is stable, pick up one foot.
- Perform push ups.
- Return to start, repeat with other foot.
Don’t forget: It’s recommended that you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. This is basic exercise information for the general public. If you have injuries or other physical limitations, this exercise may not be appropriate.