How many times have you heard this question: "How much can you bench?" For most women, the answer is probably never. Considering that we were only given the right to vote 91 years ago, change comes slowly for the majority of women—especially changing minds about fitness, lifting weights and the right and wrong things women do at the gym.
So chest training—various forms of bench press and chest flyes—usually falls to the bottom of the list for women. Or it falls off entirely. Who wants to look manly with a big chest anyway? That's the prevailing myth about women and weight training.
But—and now I'm talking directly to the women out there—to completely avoid chest training is simply a bad idea. And this article will tell you why.
On top of that, I'm going to help you out and try to ease your fears of chest training. I'll give you a basic chest workout that will get your heart rate up, help you build overall upper-body strength, and flesh out your training program so you can achieve the bombshell bod of your dreams.
Avoid Injury and Balance Out Upper-Body Strength
Let's say you decide to forgo chest training entirely, but you still train your back, arms, core and legs. Such an off-balance training routine could end up developing muscular imbalances in your body. This could lead to bad posture, a stringy or bony looking chest, and inability to perform other exercises correctly. You might even seriously injure yourself one day trying to do an exercise that involves some chest muscles that can't pull—or in this case, push—their own weight.
I'm not arguing for benching near your max every time you hit the gym. In fact, I prefer a chest workout that is tailored for females—basically it's going to be closer to full-body training or using compound movements that hit the chest, shoulders and triceps.
Whether you want to be strong enough to move into your new apartment on your own, develop athletic skills for a specific sport, or sculpt a cover-model physique—your chest muscles will play a part in your training schedule.
In fact, if you've ever coveted beautiful, round shoulders on other women or kick-butt triceps, you might be surprised to find out that chest workouts really help develop those body parts! Often you can lift a lot more weight when doing chest exercises than when doing triceps or shoulder isolation moves alone.
Plus, there's a bonus calorie burn! Since the chest is such a large muscle area, training it will burn more calories than training smaller muscle groups. Chest exercises lead to a better rate of burning fat! Now, how is that not convincing?
The 3 Classic Chest Exercises
The exercises that every women should incorporate for chest training are:
Only three exercises? I wrote this whole plan and mention only 3 exercises?! Yeah, yeah—I admit it; chest training can be basic and highly effective. But isn't that the beauty of it? You probably don't have to change your routine much to add in these exercises, and your body will reap the benefits.
If basic push-ups are too easy, there are many ways to increase the intensity. You can do decline push-ups, one-handed push-ups, or push-ups on an exercise ball-for just a few ideas.
Note on rep range: For bench press on flat, incline or decline, challenge yourself with a rep range of 6 to 8. Always start with a warm-up set of 15 reps before hitting a heavier set. For chest flyes and close-grip bench press, do 10 to 12 reps. Do push-ups failure, meaning going until you can't complete one more push-up.
You can train chest once or twice a week. You don't need to train chest more than twice in one week, unless you're doing a full-body workout three times a week. And if you're doing full-body workouts, no need to do all three chest exercises. Pick one or two to round out your workout.
Depending on your workout split, you might train chest on, say, Wednesday and Sunday. Here are two ways you can combine the above exercises into a quick-but-effective chest workout.
The PEC-Tacular Chest Workout
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Reveal Your New Body!
Hopefully you can see how easy it is to incorporate chest training into your overall gym strategy. Many women are afraid of looking overly masculine, but chest training isn't the necessary culprit. It just so happens that when you cut down body fat, you may go down a bra size, or even 2 or 3 sizes.
Yes, ladies, those lady-lumps are made out of fat, not muscle. For many women, this isn't a problem. Reaching your ideal level of fitness usually brings awesome benefits like high-energy, self-confidence and a general, "I feel great all the time!" attitude.
The lesson here is this: Don't blame the hard-knocked chest exercises. Chest training will help you avoid injury and build a well-rounded and strength-balanced body. And it's everything else you do inside and outside of the gym that will determine your overall look. Chest training is one piece of the fitness puzzle that can't be left out if you want to reveal an amazing body at the end.