Females and Pectoral Muscle Exercises

It's important for women to include chest workouts in their fitness programs
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Many women are hesitant to do resistance training due to myths that it's not feminine or because they are intimidated by the weight room. Fortunately, times are changing as more women recognize the benefits of lifting weights. Still, the chest is often a neglected area, even for women who do weight train. Crushing the myths of pectoral exercises, acknowledging the benefits and understanding some of the basic chest exercises will help you master your chest workouts.

Anatomy of the Pecs

Your chest is composed of two primary muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The chest muscles adduct medially, meaning these muscles help you move your arms toward the center of your body. The pectorals are required for performing most upper-body movements that involve pushing, and they act as synergists for many upper-body lifting movements. Because the pectoralis major is a relatively large muscle, training your chest has the added benefit of burning more calories than training other, smaller muscles.

The Myth

Women are often afraid to train their chests for fear it will cause them to develop a masculine upper body or shrink their breast tissue, but neither of these fears has merit. Visible muscle definition and striation depends on your level of body fat. When you see women with chiseled pecs, they likely have extremely low body fat -- an achievement that requires dedicated diet and training. Unless that is your goal, you aren't going to develop a ripped chest. Also, remember that breasts are primarily composed of fat. Your breast tissue will decrease as your body fat level decreases, not as you build chest muscle and strength.

Benefits of Chest Training for Women

Not only will strong chest muscles help you improve your daily upper-body movements, but increasing the muscles under breast tissue can help to give your breasts a natural boost. As long as your dieting isn't too restrictive, you can retain the fatty tissue of your breasts while increasing thickness of the pectorals, which can actually make your breasts appear fuller and perkier.


There are many exercises you can perform to build your pectorals. To boost your middle chest, try the flat bench press, dumbbell bench press, pec dec and dumbbell flyes. Increase the upper region of your pecs by doing incline press exercises with cables, free weights or machines. Decline press exercises will build the lower part of your chest. Body-weight exercises such as pushups and dips are also ideal for working your chest. Try to include a variety of exercises to avoid plateaus and boredom.

Training Considerations

Remember to consult a doctor before beginning a new training regimen, and ask a fitness professional if you have any questions about how to perform an exercise. Don't perform resistance exercises without a spotter. To increase lean body mass, perform three to five sets of six to 12 reps for each exercise.

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