Strength training exercises tone your muscles and increase the amount of calories you burn at rest, helping you lose weight. As an added bonus, chest strengthening exercises tone the muscles that support your breasts, which could make them appear larger. You don't have to belong to a gym or buy special exercise equipment to start weight training -- you can strengthen your chest muscles using your own body weight as resistance.
Strength Training Guidelines
Eight to 10 strength training exercises that target major muscle groups should be performed two to three nonconsecutive days each week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. To build muscle strength, perform one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions per exercise in each workout session. Incorporate one or two body weight chest exercises into each workout. Warm up your muscles with five to 10 minutes of cardio exercise -- treadmill, stationary bike or walking -- before strength training workouts.
Pushups are a great exercise for toning your chest -- you can vary this exercise to match your fitness level. Start with modified pushups -- move into a hands and knees position on the floor. Walk your hands forward until your body is straight. Keeping your elbows straight, bring your hands directly under your shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor. Stop when your chin is 2 to 3 inches from the floor and hold this position for two to three seconds. Straighten your elbows and push back up into the starting position. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets in a row. As your strength improves, perform pushups with your legs straight, supporting your body weight through your toes.
Tone and strengthen your chest muscles with planks. As an added bonus, this exercise also works your abs and butt. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Bend your elbows and bring your arms under your chest, hands pointed forward. Tighten your abs and butt muscles and lift your body off the floor -- supporting your weight through your toes and forearms. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, relax and repeat three times.
Tone your chest with inch worm exercises right in your living room while you keep up with your favorite show. Start in a pushup position -- arms directly under your shoulders, elbows and body straight with your body weight supported on your toes. Keeping your feet planted, walk your hands backward toward your feet as your butt raises toward the ceiling. Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your legs, then walk your hands back out into the pushup position. Repeat 10 times.
As strange as this exercise sounds, the burpee -- named after an American psychologist -- is a great exercise for toning your chest muscles. As an added bonus, the burpee doubles as a cardio workout, burning off those extra calories. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place your palms on the ground. Jump your feet backward and straighten your legs behind you, landing in a pushup position. Do a pushup and jump your legs back up into the squat position. Immediately stand and jump up in the air. Repeat 10 times as quickly as you can. Work up to 30 in a row.
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.