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A Girl’s Gotta Bench: Chest Workout And Training Tips

A great upper body is incomplete without chest training. Find out why you shouldn’t be copping out of your chest workout!

When most women approach their trainers with their results wish list, they hope for a firmer stomach, shapelier glutes and thinner thighs. Trainers almost never hear a woman say, "I want a firmer chest." In fact, most females are under the impression that chest training should be left out of the picture!

To these women, chest development should be left to the men. They're afraid chest training will make them less feminine. Ladies, that thought process is junk! Just trash it. If you want a complete program and a body to be proud of, you need to include chest training.

These busted myths and programming tips will help you get past your fears and lead you to a chest revelation!

Myth 1 ///
Chest Exercises Will Make My Boobs Smaller

This myth gets perpetuated because female bodybuilders sometimes hit the stage with flat-looking chests that are far from what we normally deem feminine. It's not the muscle that makes their breasts smaller; it's the extreme diet.

Most bodybuilders walk on stage with body fat levels that are far lower than what's considered healthy for a female. Breasts are primarily fatty tissue, so when body fat levels go way down, so do breasts. Aside from the women who have implants, most fitness and bodybuilding competitors just don't have enough body fat to keep their bras full.

Don't be afraid to press serious iron, girls.
Don't be afraid to press serious iron, girls.

As long as you sustain body fat levels that are well within a healthy range, you won't have an issue. According to the American Council on Exercise, women need to have at least 10-13% body fat for "basic physical and physiological health." Dipping below 10% (for ladies) may bring "underfat" health risks.

Myth 2 ///
Chest Training Will Make My Breasts Firm

This myth just makes me laugh. Supposedly, with some bench pressing, your breasts will go from soft to rock hard. Who needs a sports bra now?

Training your pecs will build muscle underneath the fat makes up your breasts. As long as you aren't dieting too severely, your fat mass should remain. If anything, the added muscle helps your breasts appear fuller and might actually give a little boost to your cleavage!

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Myth 3 ///
Just Do Push-Ups

Most women add push-ups to their regular routine as an afterthought and then wonder why their upper body isn't looking better. As with any other muscle group, you need a sufficient level of exercise variety and weight resistance training in your program.

A combination of bench press, incline bench press, cable or dumbbell flyes and push-ups is the variation and difficulty you should be aiming for.

Once you reach a certain level of fatigue, push-ups aren't going to do much for maximizing strength gains. Unless you put a plate on your back or find some other way to add resistance to push-ups, they're not going to help you get stronger.

Instead, add them to the end of your workout as a finisher.

Chestivus For The Rest Of Us

Now that we've covered what not to worry about, here's what you need to know about chest training:

  • It might seem like a good idea to use light weights for "tone," but remember that muscles respond best to a challenge. If you lift light weight for high reps, you'll be making very few fitness improvements and won't be doing much besides burning calories.

    You won't gain muscle mass unless you're eating a high-calorie diet -- all the heavy lifting you do on a standard or fat-loss diet will increase fitness and strength, but you won't get big, so don't be afraid to lift heavy!

  • Keep your reps within the 8-to-10 range for bench press and incline bench press. For flyes, take it up to 10-to-12.
  • 2-to-3 sets of each exercise will be perfect for strength gains. Any more or less may not produce the results you want.
  • For compound lifts like the bench press, rest one minute between sets. Also, try to hit your compound lifts at the beginning of your workouts.

    Between sets of flyes, decrease your rest to 45 seconds. Because you're just using your body weight for push-ups, rest only 30 seconds between sets.

Frequency

Depending on your current workout split, you can work your chest muscles up to 2-to-3 times per week. Make sure you take a day off between workouts.

If you're using an upper/lower body split, add this chest workout to your upper body days.

The Workouts

If you're feeling really frisky and want to add other compound movements before the accessory lifts, go for it.

Workout A
Workout B
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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Basketball22

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Basketball22

This article is great. I see so many women who avoid exercises like bemch pressing and deadlifts and then wonder why they're not making better progress.

Jul 18, 2012 4:17pm | report
matt_metz0305

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matt_metz0305

yup, I agree with BasketBall, women generally worry about bulking up and looking like man. NOT TRUE...doesn't happen. If anything they need to be lifting and lifting a decent amount of weight if they want to see themselves tone-up and lose their fat. Don't be afraid to lift with the guys, girls! if anything...we find it sexy :) great article!

Jul 19, 2012 9:37am | report
mommywithmuscle

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mommywithmuscle

Matt
I know you wrote this quite some time ago....but thanks for the inspiration to DO IT!!!

Jan 14, 2013 9:18am | report
BeastlyChange

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BeastlyChange

Great article, hopefully this will shed some light for any woman who thinks lifting weight's is a bad idea and will make them "manly." It blows my mind on how many women actually believe this, get in the gym and throw in some strength training, trust me.. you will not regret it.

Jul 19, 2012 11:43am | report
sfallen

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sfallen

I find it funny that after my chest and triceps day, I get redirected to this article twice in one day. =) But it's true, when I dropped my body weight with a combination of cardio and weight training, my cup size stayed proportional despite me dropping 2 inches on my chest (band size).

Jul 24, 2012 5:21pm | report
muzzihali0211

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muzzihali0211

Great read! Should I be adding weight weekly to the barbell?
I'm definitely going to incorporate incline bench and incline cable flye in my upper body day.

Jul 25, 2012 9:22am | report
jubilee4301

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jubilee4301

You add weight when your reps become easier and you can do more then 6 to 8. So if your lifting 85 and it starts getting easy to where you can do 10, add more weight. Hope that helps!

Aug 21, 2012 12:11pm | report
blondySyl

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blondySyl

Always on it.... 2 times a week :)

Aug 7, 2012 5:00pm | report
JogOn

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JogOn

Thanks for the article. I love working out my chest. I look forward to it. I don't get why some women wouldn't want to. It feels great to work out your chest.

Article Rated:
Aug 20, 2012 4:22am | report
dogetta

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dogetta

Re myth2:Who wouldn't want firm breasts? I know I do!

Aug 31, 2012 10:42am | report
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  • ht: 10'11"
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fittofight13

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fittofight13

Thank you for busting the myths about chest workouts here! These are also some really good workout that I will try.

Sep 4, 2012 7:44am | report
nadirah24

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nadirah24

i liked this article but i admit i don't do a lot of chest work...i focus mainly on back and shoulders for my upper body. I'll have to add in some of these exercises and monitor my results.

Sep 4, 2012 5:05pm | report
Hawkmom

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Hawkmom

This is a GREAT article.. I used to be one of those misinformed women... I have people who tell me I shouldn't lift weights because I'll look like a man.. well I lift and last time I checked I still looked like a woman...

Sep 17, 2012 2:16pm | report
k888

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k888

Aaahhhh Chest.... Nothing beats it to start off a Monday in fine form :) except when super setting with triceps and not being able to wash my hair after!!

Sep 18, 2012 5:17am | report
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  • ht: 11'5"
  • wt: 137.79 lbs
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dmg0320

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dmg0320

it is true that lots of women are afraid to hit the benches. i was intimidated myself, but with a little research and education, i am able to benchpress, and every 2 weeks i add 5-10 pounds. its giving me great results. i do agree that the presses should be done at the beginning of your workout too. its really intense. i have noticed however, that i am usually the only girl on that side of the gym... why do the guys just stare?

Sep 25, 2012 4:32am | report
00Gymrat00

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00Gymrat00

I am the only girl "on that side" of my gym too! I still get alot of stares but now the bigger guys in the gym are my buddies and they push me to lift harder :D

Nov 30, 2012 7:54pm | report
BunnyTiffany

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BunnyTiffany

Good article, I've learned that chest exercises help keep the "girls" in place.

Oct 24, 2012 7:28pm | report
KandiCouture

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KandiCouture

I want a firmer Chest so bad! I was told that it would make my breast appear frimer and lifted! I hope it does. I just started! Please wish me luck!?

Nov 15, 2012 9:02am | report
briannebmb

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briannebmb

I had neglected my chest for a while because I didn't think it was as important as other muschles. Wrong. One of the added benefits of working on chest is that it also enhanceds shoulder and triceps development. I hated chest before, now I love it! Do these exmple workouts seem short? I often folllow Laura Bailey's chest workout, which is 21 sets of chest and takes me about an hour to complete.

Dec 16, 2012 1:18pm | report
mommywithmuscle

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mommywithmuscle

Going to give it a try this evening!!!

Jan 14, 2013 9:18am | report
ashleyhorner

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ashleyhorner

i notice an imbalance in muscle with women who workout only their back and not their chest... It has an effect on upper body posture when back muscles overpower chest and front delts.. Good article.

Feb 7, 2013 3:38am | report
Turtlette5475A

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Turtlette5475A

I like this routine and am starting to notice more definition after several months of progression. I've also noticed that any neck/upper back fatigue that I used to have is nearly gone since I've been building strength in my chest. Great article!

Mar 5, 2013 8:11am | report
FitInSpirit1986

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FitInSpirit1986

Awesome Info!

Apr 15, 2013 9:08am | report
tishica14

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tishica14

Love this article!!

Apr 20, 2013 1:27pm | report
dawndawn22

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dawndawn22

I start my chest, tricep and shoulders today. This article was a great find and read for me this morning!

May 13, 2013 8:06am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 25 Comments

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