Chest Expander Exercises

Modern chest expander
A chest expander. (Image: igor terekhov/iStock/Getty Images)

The chest expander is a piece of exercise equipment that you may remember the mischievous kids from the "Goonies" movie using to tie up Brand. It is a simple piece of equipment consisting of two handles connected by springs that provide resistance. Using the chest expander is sometimes called strand pulling. Although you would expect the chest expander to target the chest muscles, it can also be used to exercise the legs and back as well.

Chest Exercise

You can use the chest expander to increase the size of your chest muscles. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) suggests doing one to three sets of 8 to 12 reps when trying to increase muscle size.

To work the chest muscles you can hold the chest expander in front of your body with one hand holding each end. You should bend your elbows and point them downwards so your arms are close to your ribs. By pressing your arms straight outwards to your sides, you can activate the muscles of your chest, called your pecs. Bending your elbows back down will complete one rep. You can also hold the outward position for 2 to 10 seconds to train the muscles isometrically.

Back Exercise

To work the muscles of your back you can hold the chest expander behind your back with arms in the same position at your sides as when you do the chest exercise. The difference will be that the chest expander springs will be behind your back instead of in front of your body. By pulling against the chest expander to open your arms toward your sides you can train your back muscles. You can also raise your arms and pull them back slightly so that the chest expander is positioned behind your neck and pull apart from there to work the lat muscles of your middle back. Either way, do not let the springs press uncomfortably against your skin. You can use the same number of reps as with the chest exercise.

Legs Exercise

You can work the muscles of your legs by pressing against the resistance of the chest expander as you would for a leg press exercise on a weight machine. You can sit in a chair or on the floor and hold a handle of the chest expander in each hand. You will extend your arms in front of your body so that you can place one foot in the center of the chest expander with your knee bent. By pressing your leg forward, holding the straightened leg position, and slowly resisting the springs on the way back you will work the muscles of your leg and buttocks. Do an equal number on both legs.

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