Usually women turn to exercise as a solution to physical features they consider less than perfect. While most times the goal is to reduce a larger than desired body part, sometimes a girl just wants to have a little more. Increasing breast size is often the impetus behind ladies pumping out bench presses with a vengeance. You'll certainly see some changes when you exercise your pecs, but they probably won't produce the bust-line you envisioned.
Breasts Can't be Exercised
Here's the thing: breasts are an organ, not a muscle. Plus, the tissue they're made of is mostly fat. In Mark Vella's 2008 book "Anatomy for Strength and Fitness Training for Women," he points out that these issues make it impossible to strengthen, firm or enlarge breasts, no matter how many heavy-duty bench presses you do.
Chest Size, Not Cup Size
Exercises like the bench press don't work the breasts. They actually work your pectoral muscles, the ones located behind the breast tissue that supports the breasts. While bench presses won't increase your cup size, exercising your pectorals will increase your pec size. This has a toning effect that will provide better support for your breasts and even push them forward a bit. It can give the impression of a slight increase in cleavage, but remember that bench presses and other chest exercises will increase your chest size, not your bra cup size. Additionally, as you start to lose fat from exercising, your actual cup size could decrease.
Useful Pec Exercises
Working your pecs won't give you the dramatic effect of implants, but it will strengthen and tone your chest muscles and improve your physique. In his 2001 book "Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women," Bill Pearl gives a nod to the bench press saying "it's a great asset for increasing power." But Pearl favors other exercises for developing your pecs, namely incline presses, bent-arm laterals, chest cross-overs and flyes.
Importance of Posture
When working on developing your pecs, don't focus on them to the exclusion of all other muscle groups. Overdeveloped pectorals can become tight and draw your shoulders in, giving you a hunched posture that will make your chest look flat and small. Remember to include your back -- specifically trapezius exercises, like a variety of rows -- to strengthen the opposing muscles that will balance out your pecs and help you stand up straight. This will enhance your bust-line, giving the effect of fuller breasts.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.