While women often avoid training their chests for fear of building large pectoral muscles like their male counterparts, it is still important to incorporate chest exercises for both functionality and vanity. Regular chest workouts can minimize muscular imbalances, especially if you train your back regularly or sit hunched in front of a computer for long periods. Chest exercises can also make it easier for you to perform everyday activities, from pushing a baby carriage to using a lawn mower. From a vanity standpoint, chest exercises can lift your breasts, especially if you’ve lost weight or recently had a baby.
The push-up is an effective bodyweight chest exercise that requires no equipment. Lie prone on the floor with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Push up off the ground by extending your arms, keeping contact with the ground with your toes. Bend your arms to slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Make sure your torso remains in a straight line, without your hips sagging or rising above the rest of your body. To make this easier, keep your knees on the ground as your perform the push-up. Aim to perform three sets of as many repetitions as you can.
Incline Bench Press
Performing a bench press on an incline helps to develop the upper portion of the pectoral muscles, which helps give the impression of lifted breasts. Sit on an incline bench with your back against the inclined portion of bench and a light dumbbell in each hand. Beginners can use 5-pound dumbbells and increase the weight as they become more comfortable. Position the weights at shoulder level, with your elbows directly under each weight. Slowly press the dumbbells straight up until your arms are extended and the dumbbells are above your head. Slowly bend your elbows to return the weights to the starting position and repeat. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Machine Pec Fly
The machine pec fly or pec deck fly can help beginners perform the fly exercise without the risk of injury that comes with using free weights. Sit in the pec fly machine with your back against the pad and your feet flat on the ground. Grab the handles on each side at shoulder level. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, contract your chest muscles and push the handles together in front of your chest. Slowly open your arms to return to the starting position and repeat. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
A bench press can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell. Lie on your back on a flat bench with your feet on the ground. If using dumbbells, hold a weight in each hand. If you are using a barbell, hold it with an overhand grip, keeping your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Novices can begin with 5-pound dumbbells or a 10-pound barbell and increase the weight as the exercise becomes easier. In both instances, bring your elbows back and position the weight at chest level. Slowly straighten your arms, pushing the weight straight up until your arms are fully extended and the weight is at eye level. Bend your elbows to return to the original position and repeat. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Have a partner spot you as you perform these exercises, especially if you are using heavy weights, to ensure you do not drop the weights on your body.
Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.