Exercises that define and sculpt your chest help you look your best at the beach or the gym. They can also help you do a variety of daily tasks, like lifting or pushing objects. On top of all that, while you improve your look and strength, you lift your mood, too.
Working out the chest means working out the pectoral muscles, better known as the “pecs.” While the pecs are the largest muscles in the chest, there are actually several smaller muscles that support the pectoral muscles, including the latissimus dorsi muscles (or “lats”) on the sides of the chest and the trapezius muscle around the shoulders.
Here’s a look at some top exercises to build your strength and size while helping support your overall daily movement.
To make sure you work all the chest muscles, include a mix of motions in your chest workout routine:
If you’re a beginner, meet with a trainer to make sure you are following a good program with proper form during the exercises. Consider starting with a lower weight to reduce your risk of injury. You should be able to pick up the weight without too much strain. Remember, you can always go up in weight if the exercise seems too easy.
The number of reps and sets you do depends on your goal:
To increase size, try 1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps for new or intermediate lifters or 3-6 sets of 1-12 reps for seasoned lifters, of a weight that is at the higher end of your 1 rep max. Rest 1-2 minutes with more reps and up to 3 minutes for higher weight, lower rep sets.
To increase strength, try 1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps for new or intermediate lifters or 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps for seasoned lifters, of a weight that is around 60-80 percent of your max, depending on your experience. Rest 1-2 minutes with more reps and up to 3 minutes for higher weight, lower rep sets.
• Start off lying on a decline bench so that your head is lower than your feet and having a grip on a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip with your palms facing towards your feet.
• Hold the dumbbells directly above your chest so that their inner edges are touching.
• Lift the dumbbells up and hold them directly above your chest so that they are touching.
• Slowly lower the weights until they are inline with the top of your chest, squeezing your muscles and hold for a count.
• Then, raise them straight up to the starting position.
Equipment Required : Dumbbell, Bench
• Extend your arms and take an overhand grip on the barbell with your hand shoulder-width apart.
• Inhale, filling your lungs, as you lower the barbell behind your head, bending your arms slightly.
• Exhale as you return to the starting point.
Equipment Required : Barbell, Bench
• Lie on the bench, with your feet on the floor. Hold a dumbbell with both hands, palms against the underside of the upper set of plates, thumbs and forefingers encircling the handle.
• Inhale as you lower the weight behind your head, slightly bending your elbows.
• Return to the starting position, exhaling.
Equipment Required : Dumbbell, Bench
• Stand with your feet slightly spread, your body slightly forward, and your elbows slightly bent. Hold the handles with your arms spread.
• Inhale and press the cable handles forward until your hands touch.
• Exhale as you complete the contraction.
Equipment Required : Cable Machine
• Sit on the machine’s seat and press your elbows into the pads, relaxing your forearms and wrists.
• Inhale and force the pads together until they touch in front of your chest.
• Exhale as you complete the movement.
Equipment Required : Machine
• Lie on an incline bench set at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees. Hold the dumbbells with your arms extended or slightly bent to lessen the stress on the elbow joint.
• Inhale, then lower the dumbbells until your elbows are at a shoulder height.
• Raise the dumbbells while exhaling.
Equipment Required: Dumbbell, Bench
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