Don’t you just feel jealous when you see a man with a huge, sculpted chest on workout sites? Yeah, same here.
Although these are extreme examples of build-up pectorals and aspiring to them might seem like a long shot, a toned chest is equally important for both women and men.
And fortunately for you, you don’t need a gym membership to develop strong chest. We’ve tailored two chest workout routines (with and without equipment) you can do in the convenience of your home.
When we say equipment, we mean dumbbells. Although bodyweight workouts are definitely handier when it comes to at-home training, adding some extra weight can take your home chest workout routine to another level.
In addition, using dumbbells will give you an opportunity to perform some of the most popular and most effective chest workouts like chest flies and chest press.
If you’re a beginner, start with light weights in order to master the technique first. Once you feel confident enough, increase the weight. Ideally, you should use a weight that makes the final three or four reps hard to execute.
Chest flies and chest press workouts are normally done on a bench but since you’re performing these exercise in your home, you’ll need a suitable alternative.
Instead of a flat bench, lie on the floor or bed. Both these surfaces will stop your elbows once they’re parallel to your shoulders. It should be noted though that this limitation might frustrate more experienced exercisers.
Another alternative is using a stability ball, especially when it comes to the inclined and declined varieties. A stability ball allows you to position yourself in the desired way, but it also makes your core muscles work more than usual.
If you’re unsure whether the ball will be stable enough, wedge it between two chairs.
Besides the chest, this exercise works the shoulders and biceps as well.
How to do it:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Hold the dumbbells straight up over your chest, at shoulder width.
With the elbows slightly bent, slowly open your arms to the sides in a wide arc.
Contract the chest as you bring the dumbbells back together at the top.
The declined position allows you to lift more weight than you can in a flat chest fly. This is because the lower portion of the pecs provides lots of power. However, to prevent shoulder injuries, make sure to perform the decline chest fly with good form and start with moderate weight.
The inclined position in this home chest workout provides a unique challenge and emphasizes the upper pecs.
This workout is great if your goal is to bulk up your chest. Besides the pecs, it also targets the triceps. The dumbbell variety is much more effective than the barbell variety usually performed at the gym because it trains each side in isolation.
How to do it:
Lie on your back, holding the dumbbells in your hands, with the palms facing towards the feet.
Press the dumbbells above your chest, shoulder-width apart, until your arms are straight.
Slowly lower the dumbbells until your elbows are parallel to the ground.
Press the dumbbells back up to the starting position, making sure they don’t touch each other at the top.
The declined press variety puts emphasis on the lower chest muscles and allows you to lift more weight.
The inclined press variety targets the upper part of the chest, as well as the front part of the shoulders much harder than the regular (flat) press.
When it comes to home chest workouts, the good old push-ups and all its varieties are the best options for building strong pecs.
1. Regular push-ups
This classic bodyweight workout strengthens the arm and chest muscles. It requires no equipment, only enough space to stretch yourself out flat in.
How to do it:
Lie on the floor facing down. Position your palms on the floor at shoulder width, with the elbows pointing towards your toes. The wider the grip, the more your chest muscles will work.
Position your feet together, then curl your toes towards your head.
Use your arms to raise yourself, forming a straight line head to heels and contracting your abs to prevent your hips from sagging.
Return to starting position and repeat.
Also called plyometric push-ups, they allow you bursts of a powerful movement that works your muscles to the max.
Both these versions require strong wrists and arms.
Instead of the palms, use the first two knuckles of your hands to put the weight on the fists for the former variety, or your fingers for the latter variety.
Another way to make push-ups more difficult is by positioning your legs higher than your arms. Place your feet on top of a small table, chair, or if you want to make the workout extra difficult, on an exercise ball.
If your fitness level isn’t very advanced and regular pushups seem too hard, begin with incline push-ups, i.e. perform the push-ups with your palms positioned higher than your feet.
You can use a chair, table, or bed, depending on the desired height. The steeper the incline, the easier it will be to perform the exercise.
Another variety which is perfect for newbies. In this workout, the weight is on the knees instead of your feet, which makes it easier for you to push up. Once the knee push-ups become too easy for you, switch to the regular version.
This workout is great for adding both width and depth to your chest. Plus, since the body isn’t supported like in the press & fly workouts, it also includes other muscles needed to stabilize the body weight.
This workout is usually done on a set of parallel bars, but since you’re doing it at home, you’ll need any flat surfaces you can dip between, such as bar stools.
How to do it:
Place your hands on the flat surfaces and hold the body at arms’ length. Make sure your arms are locked and your knees are bent so that you don’t touch the ground.
Lower the body slowly, with the elbows pointing out until you feel your chest are slightly stretched. Make sure not to lower yourself too much because you might hurt your shoulder joints.
Contract the chest to return to the starting position.
Choose any five of the above-listed home chest workouts. Dedicate 30 seconds to each one of them, followed by 30 seconds rest. Perform a total of three rounds.
Remember, speed is less important than form, so make sure to perform each workout in good form even when your body starts to fatigue.
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