Chest presses comprise the core of fitness regimens designed to strengthen chest muscles while also working the shoulders and triceps -- they won't enlarge the bosom, ladies, but may lift it. Using the arms to push weight from the chest, multiple variations of chest-press exercises exist. These include the she-woman bench press and the gentler standing chest press, performed with resistance bands or gym machines. Regardless of the moves, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
The most common weightlifting exercise at the gym, the bench press, is typically known as the way lifters showcase their power. Using free weights, including dumbbells or barbells, this exercise involves lying on a bench and moving the bar into starting position above the chin and chest, with elbows straight. On an inhale, move the bar down in a smooth, controlled motion, to lightly touch the chest. With an exhale, push the bar back to starting position. After finishing as many reps as are comfortable, signal to the spotter to assist you in replacing the bar on its stand.
Bench Pros and Cons
If seeking to emphasize the pecs the barbell bench press is your choice. Exercise and sport science researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La cross analyzed common strength-training exercises targeting the chest -- including the barbell bench press, the pec deck machine and cable crossovers. They found the bench press to elicit highest levels of chest muscle activation, according to ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. The bench press, though, requires a spotter. Why? You lift weight directly overhead, which is a potentially dangerous activity. A common mistake is benching too often, said Dr. Ken Kinakin in T Nation, without allowing ligaments and muscles to heal. The most commonly injured areas are the shoulders and back due to lifting too much weight and poor technique.
Standing Chest Press
While there are variations of this exercise, The standing chest press is commonly performed on a cable crossover machine or with resistance bands. Using the bands for the standing chest press is a good place for beginner weightlifters to start. This allows you to get used to the motions before tacking on any additional heavy weights. Wrap the bands around your back, under the shoulder blades. With hands at shoulder height and out to the sides, move them together out in front of you in a motion that mimics hugging a tree. With elbows only slightly bent, move hands out front while exhaling, and move them back while inhaling.
Standing-Chest Pros and Cons
No spotter is required, which automatically signals the chest press as a safer endeavor than the standard bench press. While the bench press may offer a greater range of motion, the standing chest press requires just a resistance band, no personnel and is relatively easy to do. Even with the simplicity, it still adequately strengthens the chest, arms and shoulders. By using bands, you'll also avoid over lifting. You might consider starting with the standing chest press and working your way to the bench press over time. Remember, no matter which chest strength-training exercise you choose, avoid working the same muscle group daily. Allow at least one day for muscle repair to reduce injury.
- Smart Strenght-Training: Getting Staretd with Chest Exercises
- ACE Fitness: Barbell Bench Press
- Business Wire: ACE Study Tests Common Chest Exercises, Finds Barbell Bench Press Most Effective
- T Nation: Bench Press Blowouts: Prevention and Treatment
- Real Age: Standing Chest Press
- FitDay: Getting Started: Beginner's Strength Training
Julie D. Andrews is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in print or on the websites of "Prevention," "Glamour," "Fitness," "Shape," "Cosmopolitan Latina," "Elle" and "New York Magazine."