Despite the fact that pectoral muscles are literally front and center, they’re pretty easy to disregard, especially in this day and age when booty workouts reign supreme. And individuals who have breasts, in particular, may be guilty of neglecting regular chest workouts. “There is a bit of a misconception that, since we have breasts, we don’t need to train pectoral muscles,” says Kourtney Thomas, C.S.C.S., a certified personal trainer in Denver.
But don’t be deceived — training the pectoral muscles is important for everyone. All people have a large, fan-shaped pectoralis major muscle on either side of the chest, directly beneath the breast tissue. A smaller muscle, known as the pectoralis minor, is located in the upper part of the chest, beneath the pectoralis major. Collectively, these muscles are known as the pecs, and they cover the entirety of your chest. As such, they assist you in maintaining good posture, carrying out daily tasks, and even breathing easily.
So, if you’ve been neglecting those muscles, it’s time to incorporate some chest workouts with weights into your routine. Below, discover why your pecs deserve your attention in the first place, according to fitness experts. Then, once you’re motivated to make progress, grab your dumbbells and a medicine ball and try this chest workout for women, demonstrated by trainer Jenny Gaither, founder of the Movemeant Foundation. (No weights? Try these resistance band chest exercises instead.)
5 Advantages of Chest Workouts for Women
1. You’ll enhance your posture.
When it comes to posture, the back and shoulders receive all the attention. However, as one of the largest muscles in the upper body, the pecs play an equally important role in maintaining posture and upright stability, namely by supporting the scapula (your shoulder blade) and the shoulder joint itself.
“Every muscle that surrounds the scapula and shoulder is going to be important for stabilizing those joints,” says Joel Seedman, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and owner of Advanced Human Performance in Suwanee, Georgia. “If one gets weaker, then you will have imbalanced tension across the joints.”
And if one muscle becomes excessively shortened or lengthened, it won’t matter much if they’re strong or weak — the pecs won’t be able to adequately perform their function. The biggest culprit of shortening? Your computer. When you slouch over it all day, you simultaneously shorten your chest muscle fibers and lengthen your back ones, says Seedman. So if you work a desk job, all the more reason to incorporate some chest exercises for women into your training regimen.
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2. You’ll inhale more easily.
When you rectify your posture, you also widen your chest, which facilitates taking deep, high-quality breaths. The slighter pec minor is particularly beneficial, as the smaller, triangular muscle attaches at the center of your third, fourth, and fifth ribs. Every time you breathe in, the pec minor elongates, enabling your rib cage to expand.
“If the pec muscles are excessively contracted, then respiration will be significantly compromised because you’re not going to be able to expand the diaphragm,” says Seedman. “But if you’re elongating those chest fibers, respiration and the ability to enhance oxygenation to all your muscles is going to be greatly improved.” Kind of a vital reason to engage in chest workouts with weights.
3. You can enhance the perkiness of your breasts (if you desire).
Seedman explains that many women and other individuals with breasts avoid training their chest because they believe their breasts will diminish in size, but that’s actually the opposite of what can occur — chest workouts for women are akin to a non-surgical method of breast augmentation. (Plus they might just assist you in finally mastering that elusive pull-up!)
“What you’re doing is pushing the breast tissue up and forward more, so it gives the illusion that your breasts are larger,” he says. Plus, adding muscle to your chest helps elevate your breasts, “almost acting like a push-up bra.”
And don’t forget: Adding muscle beneath the actual breast tissue doesn’t detract from the breast tissue itself.
4. You’ll make everyday activities easier.
Outside of the gym, your pecs play a significant role in a wide range of daily activities, from carrying grocery bags into the house to opening a heavy door or hauling a suitcase around an airport. “Pretty much any upper-body activity or motion that we do involves the pectoral muscles to a notable extent,” says Seedman.
The primary functions of your pecs are to elevate (lift), bring back (adduct), and turn inward (medially rotate) your upper arm. So, “if you think of picking things up, holding things, squeezing things, or any kind of movement that involves pushing, the pecs are involved in all of that,” says Thomas.
That’s why, if your pecs are weak from lack of use, the simple act of carrying and loading grocery bags into your house can feel like a challenge. From a purely functional standpoint, you’ll make your day-to-day life easier if you add this chest workout for women to your exercise schedule.
5. You’ll train other muscles.
Indeed, pecs are substantial, vital muscles, as explained above
However, they also hold significance due to their ability to engage numerous adjoining muscles — specifically the deltoids, dorsal region, and triceps — thereby transforming any chest workout into an excellent overall upper-body maneuver.
The Most Effective Workout for Women’s Chest Muscles
You may believe that a comprehensive collection of equipment is necessary for a weighted chest workout at the gym, but for this particular routine, only a few items are required. You can easily perform this top-notch workout for women’s chest muscles at home using just a pair of dumbbells, a medicine ball, and a Swiss ball. Each of the following exercises targets the muscles located behind your breasts, as well as several other crucial upper-body muscles. By completing this workout, you will undoubtedly emerge stronger overall.
How it Operates: On three separate days every week, execute one set of each of these chest exercises successively, without taking any breaks in between. After the final exercise, rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat the entire circuit three more times to reach a total of four rounds.
You will need: a set of dumbbells, a medicine ball, and a Swiss ball
Medicine Ball Push-Up
A. Assume a push-up position, placing your left hand on top of a medicine ball and your right hand on the floor. Activate your legs and draw your belly button upwards and inwards.
B. While maintaining a straight body alignment, gradually lower yourself towards the floor by bending your elbows as much as possible. Push upwards through both hands to return to the initial position.
Complete 8 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
A. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball against your chest.
B. While keeping your lower back pressed firmly against the floor and engaging your core, forcefully throw the ball directly into the air, aiming for maximum height.
Grasp using upright upper extremities and promptly lessen downwards to thorax to revert back to the initial stance.
Perform 20 repetitions.
Single-Arm Chest Press
A. Grasp a dumbbell with your left hand and lie on your back on a Swiss ball. Elevate your hips so that your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold the dumbbell against your chest and retract your shoulder blades downwards and together.
B. Push the weight straight up, then lower it back down to your chest to return to the initial position.
Complete 8 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
A. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing away from your body.
B. While maintaining engaged core muscles, pull your shoulder blades down and back while raising the weights above your head in a Y-shaped position. Return to the starting position at a slow and controlled pace.
Perform 20 repetitions.
A. Position two dumbbells shoulder-width apart on the floor. Begin in a table-top position with your shoulders aligned over your hands, each gripping a dumbbell. Your knees should be bent and directly beneath your hips.
B. Step one leg back at a time to assume a high plank position on your palms. Ensure that your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart. Engage your quadriceps, glutes, and core, and slightly tuck your tailbone.
C. Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears, then slowly bend one elbow back, keeping your arm close to your side as you pull the dumbbell up toward your hip. Be sure to maintain stable hips and avoid swaying to the side.
D. Return to the starting position by gently placing the dumbbell back down. Repeat the row on the opposite arm. This completes one repetition.
Complete 8 repetitions.
Rear Lateral Raise
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Bend your knees, shift your hips back, and bring your torso close to parallel with the ground.
B. Without moving your torso, raise your arms straight out to the sides until they reach shoulder height. Pause briefly, then slowly return to the starting position.
Perform 20 repetitions.