The 3 Best Chest Exercises for Women to Do at Home

Staying home doesn't mean you have to skip your chest workout.
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Though a bigger, stronger chest is usually a higher priority for gym-going men, women can greatly benefit from working their chest muscles as well. After all, developed pecs can help support good posture and help keep your breasts lifted as you age — no boob job needed.

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Another way women's chest workouts differ from the guys? "We are structurally not as strong in our pectoral muscles as males are — we can thank our breasts for that! — so chest exercises are difficult and often avoided for that reason," says Alysa Boan, a Dallas-based, NASM- certified personal trainer at RealFitnessMaven.

But that's a mistake, says Boan, because chest exercises for women can truly benefit the entire body. "Working your pectoral muscles can help to define your shoulders, biceps, triceps, upper back and underarms — every spot we as females love to show off."

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Plus, just because you may not start off as strong as some of the men in the weight room, doesn't mean you can't work your way up there! And at-home chest exercises are the perfect place to start.

Read more: The Best Weight-Loss Exercises You Can Do at Home

3 Chest Exercises Women Can Do at Home

A trip to the gym to hoist barbells or use a cable-cross machine isn't always possible — especially if your tasks include a full-time job, childcare, meal prepping, household chores and a social life. Or you may just prefer the comfort of your own home for squeezing in a workout.

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At-home chest exercises can help you create and maintain the strong, sleek physique you want. "Whether you practice incline push-ups, chest presses or flys, all of those exercises will help your pectoral muscles grow stronger and upper body more defined," says Boan.

Incorporate these chest moves for women in your routine two to three times a week, and you'll feel (and see!) results within a month.

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Move 1: Push-Up

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Body Part Abs, Arms, Chest and Shoulders
  1. Start in a high plank position, supporting yourself on your hands and your toes.
  2. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your body should form a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your chest as close as you can to the floor. Your elbows should point out at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Press back up to the start and repeat.

Push-ups are easily the most common and most accessible chest exercise. But they don't come as easily to women as they do to men, because women typically have only about half the upper-body strength of men, according to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science.

That doesn't mean women can't do full push-ups, though. Rather, it's important for beginners to modify their form as they build the strength. Start with push-ups against a wall, and when that proves easy, move to push-ups off the kitchen counter. As you master one level of incline, continue to move to a lower incline — a coffee table, ottoman or stair-step can work — until you're parallel to the floor.

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Since your core plays an important role in completing a proper push-up, keep your ab muscles pulled in toward your spine to keep your trunk rigid as you push yourself up with your arms. Remember: A strong core improves your back health, posture and overall appearance.

Once you've mastered the standard push-up, you can advance to all kinds of push-up variations, including:

  • Decline push-ups
  • Hands wide push-ups
  • Spiderman push-ups
  • Plyo push-ups

Move 2: Dumbbell Bench Press

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Body Part Arms, Chest, Shoulders and Abs

Presses are standard gym exercises that target the chest, but they're easily adapted to at-home workouts. A set of moderate-weight dumbbells are easy to stash in a closet, and you can use a mat on the floor or an ottoman to stand in for a workout bench.

  1. Rest your back on a stability ball, ottoman or the edge of your couch, knees bent, feet planted on the ground hip-distance apart, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Pull your abs toward your spine and squeeze your glutes to keep your hips from sagging as you lift your hips to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Bend your elbows to bring the heads of the weights just outside your shoulders.
  4. Keep your hips lifted as you extend your elbows to press the weights straight up.
  5. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees as you lower the weights toward your chest and repeat.

Move 3: Chest Fly

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Body Part Abs, Arms, Chest and Shoulders

If you don't have dumbbells, get creative — two large bottles of water can even stand in.

  1. Rest your back on a stability ball, ottoman or the edge of your couch, knees bent, feet planted on the ground hip-distance apart, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Pull your abs toward your spine and squeeze your glutes to keep your hips from sagging as you lift your hips to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Raise the weights straight above your chest, turning your palms to face each other with a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Open your arms, elbows aiming toward the floor, until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  5. Squeeze your chest to bring your arms back together and repeat.

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