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Changing Shape

Exercises for the Chest




Chest Exercises with Weights



Dumbbell Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. Lay on bench. Feet flat on ground. Chest up, head rested back and natural curve of spine maintained.

2. Flex abs and push dumbbells above chest (around nipple area). Wrist joints should be straight at all times during movement.

3. Slightly rotate wrists so that thumbs point to each other in a straight line (like you are holding a bar).

4. Under control, lower the weight down as elbow joints naturally move away from body. Keep elbows directly under dumbbells.

5. Stop when elbows are inline with shoulders or arms reach a 90 degree angle and reverse back up.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.



Barbell Chest Press (mouseover photo)


1. Same posture cues as above.

2. Grab barbell at shoulder width. Rap thumbs around bar while keeping wrists straight.

3. Lift bar and move to middle of chest.

4. Lower weight with elbows directly under bar during the entire movement pattern.

5. When elbows reach shoulder height, reverse motion, driving from chest and elbows. Hips or low back should not move away from bench during any time.

6. Do not lock out at top range. Stop right before elbows are 100% straight and reverse back down.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.



Machine Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. Adjust seat height so that handles are approximately at nipple level. During the exercise, keep your back flush against the pad with a natural arch at spine.

2. Pull betty button slightly in by flexing abs and relax shoulders down.

3. Push weight out while focusing on keeping elbows inline with handles and bringing them together.

4. Stop just before elbow joints are straight and reverse movement. Once elbow joints are inline with shoulders, push out again.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.










Chest Press in Lunge Position


Lunge position in front of cable machine.

1. Begin in a lunge position with right leg behind and pull cable with right arm.

2. Repeat on both sides of body.


















Upper Chest Exercises





Dumbbell Incline Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. Lay flat on bench that is set to a 30° incline (usually 2-3 notches from top position).

2. Relax shoulders down and set neck back on pad while curve of spine is at neutral.

2. Tighten core and push dumbbells up in alignment with top of the chest. Don't forget to keep wrists aligned or straight during entire exercise.

3. Angle or move thumbs straight accost from one another (similar to if you were gripping a barbell).

4. With elbows underneath wrists, lower dumbbells in a controlled manner down and away from the body. Don't just move the dumbbells straight down. You can pretend there is a giant watermelon on your chest and that you need to maneuver around it.

5. Reverse motion back up after arms reach a 90 degree angle and align with shoulders.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.




Barbell Incline Chest Press (mouseover photo)


1. Set bench to a 30° incline angle (2-3 notches from top).

2. Same postural cues as above exercise.

2. Set hands at shoulder width and rap thumbs around bar.

3. Un rack barbell and center over top of chest. Maintain neutral (straight) wrists.

4. Move weight down. Elbow joints should remain underneath barbell for the duration of the lift.

5. Once elbows align with shoulders, reverse motion back up.

6. Do not lock joints, lift hips or low back off bench while doing this exercise.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.




Machine Inclined Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. Set seat so that handles align with middle of the chest.

2. Maintain natural spinal arch and keep back flush against machine at all times. There should not be any movement at hips or low back during this exercise.

3. Raise chest up and relax shoulders down. Pull betty button in and tighten core.

3. With elbows in alignment with handles, push them forward and together.

4. Avoid locking out at the top and reverse movement.

5. Stop once elbows are in a straight line with shoulders and repeat.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.



Lower Chest Exercises




Click Here to Watch Video
Decline Dumbbell Chest Press

Benefits: Chest (Pecs), Triceps, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Decline Bench


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Decline Barbell Bench Press

Benefits: Chest (Pecs), Triceps, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Decline Bench


Click Here to Watch Video
Life Fitness Plate-Loaded Decline Chest Press

Benefits: Chest (Pecs), Triceps, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Life Fitness Signature Series Plate-Loaded Decline Chest Press


Click Here to Watch Video
Cable Chest Fly High to Low

Benefits: Chest (Pecs), Triceps, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Cable



Inner Chest Exercises




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Cable Chest Fly

Benefits: Chest, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Life Fitness Signature Series Torso Rotation


Click Here to Watch Video
Pec Deck Machine

Benefits: Chest, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Cables


Click Here to Watch Video
Cable Crossover

Benefits: Chest, Shoulders

Machine Requirements: Cables



Chest Exercises at Home




Resistance Band Inclined Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. Connect exercise tubing on a fixed surface at chest level and turn in opposite direction.

2. Pick up handles and stand with legs spaced shoulder width apart (or staggered).

3. Align elbows with shoulders, tighten stomach and push weight forward and up. Focus on moving the resistance from elbows and squeezing them together. At the top of the movement, hands should become parallel with eyes.

4. Don't lock arms and reverse motion back.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.




Resistance Band Chest Press (mouseover photo)

1. The directions for this exercise are the same as above (resistance band inclined chest press).

2. The only difference is that at the top of the movement, wrists should be parallel or inline with armpits.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.











Exercise Band Inclined Chest Fly (mouseover photo)


1. Attach band around a stable structure at chest level. Turn around.

2. Grab handles with a shoulder width stance or one leg in front of the other (staggered). Stiffen core muscle.

3. Open arms, like you are about to hug someone, keeping a natural curve in elbow joints (do not lock them out) and push resistance forward and elbows together. During this entire movement, arms should remain in a fixed position and should almost be straight.

4. End near eye level and repeat.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor.



Resistance Band Chest Fly
(mouseover photo)

1. This exercise has the same description as the inclined chest fly above.

2. The only difference is that the resistance should be pressed to armpit level.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoral is major and minor, deltoids and triceps.










Chest Exercises without Weights



Proper Form for Pushups (mouseover photo)

If you don't have the strength to successfully perform this exercise, start on knees.

1. Lay stomach down with weight supported by hands and feet. Align thumbs under shoulders. Feet position can be varied, but most individuals prefer shoulder width.

2. Squeeze thighs and glutes. Brace stomach and keep chin tucked into neck for proper cervical alignment.

3. Point elbows back to a 45 degree angle and lower body. Stop where you feel comfortable and reverse. This will vary from person to person based on their range of motion.

4. As you push away from the floor, focus on gripping the ground while keeping hips, shoulders and neck in one straight line.

5. Don't allow hips to sag or back to round during exercise.

Muscles Benefited: Pectoralis major and minor, triceps, and deltoids.




Matthew Johnson (Google+) is a certified personal trainer, nutrition expert and an on-line fitness consultant that started ChangingShape.com back in 2001.






























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