Chest exercises that target the center line of your chest tone the pectoralis major, while exercises that work the pectoralis minor tone the area of your chest closest to your armpits. These types of exercises are called resistance or strength-training and use your body weight or free weights as resistance to strengthen your muscles. For optimum health, an adult should work out all her muscle groups, including the chest, at least twice a week. Perform up to three sets of eight to 12 reps for each exercise.
Seated Cable Press
Target the muscles in the center of your chest with the seated cable press machine. Adjust the seat so the handles are between your mid-chest and shoulders. Sit down and grasp the handles at the end of the cables so your palms are facing down to get into the proper starting position. Push your hands out in front of you by extending your elbows. Return your hands to the starting position to finish one repetition.
Barbell Bench Press
Tone your pectoralis major with a weight bench and a barbell. Lie on your back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor or resting on an aerobics step. Unrack the bar and position the bar over your upper chest with your elbows extended to get into the proper starting position. Lower the bar to the middle of your chest and return to the starting position to finish one repetition.
Pushup with Single-Leg Raise
Doing a pushup with a single leg raise elevates the intensity of this classic exercise that targets the pectoralis major. Position your body in the upward phase of a pushup. In the proper starting position, only your palms and your toes touch the floor. Your knees and elbows are extended, and your body forms a line from the top of your head to your heels. Lift your left leg about 12 inches off the floor and bend your elbows up to 90 degrees to get into the downward phase of the pushup. Return your body to the upward phase to complete one repetition. After completing a set with your left leg raised, do a set with your right leg off the floor.
Stability Ball Dumbbell Fly
Get out your stability ball to do dumbbell flyes and tone the center of your chest. Take a dumbbell in each hand. Position your back atop the stability ball so only your head, shoulders and upper back are touching the ball. In the starting position, your arms are fully extended above you with the dumbbells over your chest and your palms facing each other. Slowly lower your arms out to the side to a height just above your chest. Return the dumbbells to the starting position to complete one repetition.
- American Council on Exercise: Seated Cable Press
- American Council on Exercise: Barbell Bench Press
- American Council on Exercise: Push-Up with Single-Leg Raise
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Dumbbell Fly
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?