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The Best Exercise for Firm Chest Muscles

author image Maria Ryan
Maria Ryan has more than 20 years experience in fitness and wellness. She holds a Master of Science in counseling psychology with a specialization in psychology of sport. She has reviewed articles for "Women in Sport" and "Physical Activity Journal" and books for "Author Exposure." She has presented on such topics as overtraining and burnout in youth athletes and the psychological impact of injury, and co-authored a pending research study examining stress in college students.
The Best Exercise for Firm Chest Muscles
A woman is bench pressing. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

The best exercises to firm the muscles of your chest involve a variety of movements that target both the pectoralis major and minor. This routine should be done consistently, twice a week. Toned chest muscles can give you a more desirable appearance and boost your body confidence as well.

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The Best for Your Chest

The muscles of your chest wall exist on either side of your breastbone -- sternum -- and include your pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The best exercises to tone, tighten, and firm this area are a variation of pushing exercises which mimic the natural motion of your chest. Think about the functionality involving each of these exercises and how this applies to the way your muscles work in everyday life. Pay attention to keeping good form throughout each movement and making the proper adjustments when fatigue sets in such as lowering your weight or cutting back on the number of repetitions or sets.

Pressing and Pushing

A seated chest press or bench press is a popular piece of exercise equipment found at most gyms. Adjust your seat height so that the hand grips are level with your nipple line. The bar should be positioned so that your elbows are in front of your shoulders. Sit with your back against the backrest and pull your shoulders back until your shoulder blades are in contact with the backrest. Press your chest forward and contract your abs. Maintain this position throughout the exercise. Press the bar forward until your elbows are straight but not locked. Bend your elbows and return to start. Repeat 10 times. Do two to three sets at a weight that has you struggling through the last few reps without losing form.

Get Benched

The lying bench press is a great overall chest strengthener.
The lying bench press is a great overall chest strengthener. Photo Credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The supine bench press is the lying down version of the seated press and can be done using a barbell or dumbbells. Since you are more vulnerable in this position to getting stuck, especially with a barbell, a spotter may be a good idea. Choose weights you can handle if working alone; when in doubt go lighter and work up from there. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back on a flat bench with your head fully supported, feet flat on floor or resting on the bench with bent knees. Maintain a neutral spine throughout and be mindful not to allow your back bear the weight. Position your arms in a 90-degree angle with palms facing away. Elbows should be in line with your shoulders. Press the weights straight up toward the ceiling until elbows are straight but not locked. Bend elbows and slowly return to starting position. Avoid dropping your elbows lower than your shoulders. Repeat 10 times. Do two to three sets.

Pushups for Lift Off

Pushups develop power in your muscles, no additional weight necessary.
Pushups develop power in your muscles, no additional weight necessary. Photo Credit: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Pushups work the chest using your own body weight. They are a dynamic exercise that will tone your entire upper body as well as your core. Start by placing your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart with fingers slightly fanned in. Lift onto the balls of your feet and press your heels back. Drop your hips in line with the rest of your body and widen your shoulders across your upper back. With your shoulders over your hands, bend your elbows back behind you as you lower your chest to the floor. Drop as low as you can without compromising your shoulder joint then press back up and straighten arms, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Do one or two more sets.

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