What is the most feminine part of a woman’s body? For many (men, especially), it’s the chest. Here is the list of the best chest exercises for women that will help you build an irresistible bosom.
When we think of a typical woman workout, things like thighs, glutes, and abs come to mind. Sure, most women would love to have strong and thin thighs, firm buttocks, and fat-free flat belly.
Sure, these muscle groups can be easily (well, relatively easily) trained since there are dozens of various exercises and workouts dedicated to them. But who here wants to train their chest?
The answer is usually “Why would I want to do chest exercises?” followed by one the popular myths about chest workouts.
Popular myths about chest exercises for women
You wouldn’t believe how strong some of these myths are. Still, we will have to get rid of them.
Myth #1. Chest exercises make breasts smaller
Wrong. Just plain wrong. Let’s get a bit scientific here – women’s breasts largely consist of fatty tissue, not muscles or water or anything else.
Therefore, the only way (well, the only NATURAL way) to reduce the size of breasts is to decrease the body fat level also known as “to lose weight.”
And, as we all know by now, it cannot be done in just one part of your body (arms, belly, legs) – either you are getting rid of that fat proportionally, or you’re gaining it proportionally as well.
There is a thin balance, of course, when you maintain your current body fat level but it requires a strict diet and regular exercising.
So, whether you like it or not, chest exercises will not affect your breast size in any visible way. Sure, if you start to consume more calories than you burn, your breasts might become slightly bigger but not in a pleasant way. And, certainly, not without the rest of your body.
This myth is probably based on how some of the female bodybuilders or fitness bikini contest participants look – very dry, with a fat level that is much lower than an average human should have. Breasts do not look quite feminine on such women.
You have got to understand that this is not the way these athletes usually look – this peak form is only achieved for and maintained during the competition (1-2 weeks). It’s impossible to keep that little fat in your body without harming it for longer periods of time.
To sum it up:
- chest exercises WILL NOT make your breasts smaller (or any bigger, for that matter)
- the only natural way to increase/decrease breast size is to increase/decrease body fat level because breasts consist mostly of fatty tissue
- chest exercises can make your breasts appear fuller and better shaped – now THAT is true
Myth #2. Chest exercises make breasts firm and man-like
Wrong again. This is easily explained by applying the logic that we had already started in the previous passage.
Muscles take up only a small part of your breasts, the rest is fatty tissue. So, unless you’re depriving yourself of calories on a weight-losing low-fat diet, your breasts will remain the same size while doing chest exercises. Their shape, however, can benefit from exercises.
If you are on your regular diet (i.e. not losing weight, nor gaining it), the additional exercises will help to build up muscles beneath that fatty tissue, which, in turn, will affect the shape of your breasts, making them appear fuller and more round.
To sum it up:
- chest exercises do help your pectoral muscles grow but the only visible result of this process is that breasts actually get better, rounder shape and fullness
Myth #3. Push-ups are enough
Not entirely wrong. You may (as many women do) already have push-ups in your full-body workout routine, and these push-ups are actually helpful but only to a certain extent.
The very mechanics of push-ups suggest that there is no weights progression, which means that soon after you start doing push-ups, your body (and muscles, in particular) will eventually get used to the stress received and stop progressing.
Therefore, push-ups are only good as an entry-level exercise for beginners to help build that core muscle set. Or, you can have them as a part or your warm-up workout. Otherwise, they are not that effective for your chest.
To sum it up:
- push-ups are a good chest exercise but it doesn’t allow the progression of weights, which is why they are useless in the long run
- you can do push-ups at the beginning of your training as a warm-up exercise
These were the three main myths about chest exercises. We hope we’ve managed to bust them.
10 Best Chest Exercises For Women
The best for your chest. This list is complete with a brief description for each exercise. For your convenience, we have split these exercises into 3 groups – beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Beginner chest exercises
1. Pillow squeeze
Like most beginner exercises, you can do this one at home. How to do it:
- Lie down on your back on the floor or mat; place your feet on the floor too with your knees bent
- Raise your hands holding a pillow before your chest with your palms facing inwards
- Squeeze your arms tight like you want to push through the pillow; you should feel the muscle contraction in your chest
- Hold arms squeezed for a second or two, then release
- Repeat 12-15 times in 3 sets
2. Side arm raise
It’s better to use a mat for this one.
- Get down on your knees and hands on the exercise mat; keeps your arms straight, on your shoulder width
- Raise one of the arms up and to the side while the other arm is still straight; try raising the arm as far as you can without feeling pain – ideally, you should a nice stretch feeling in your chest
- Do 10-12 reps for each arm in 2-3 sets
- If you feel like you want more, try doing the same exercise but with a light dumbbell in your working hand
Watch the video below to learn more pillow squeeze and side arm raise:
3. Floor press
This is where we’re getting closer to the bench press. This exercise is done with a pair of dumbbells, on a mat.
- Assume the same position as in pillow squeeze (back, head and feet on the floor, knees bent)
- Take dumbbells in your hands and raise them directly above your chest with elbows slightly bent; palms facing your knees
- Bring your hands down until your elbows touch the floor and then push the hands back to the top to the point where dumbbells touch each other
- Repeat 10-12 times in 3 sets
4. Floor fly
Similar to the floor press, this exercise is performed on a mat with a pair of dumbbells.
- Lie down on the mat – back and feet are on the floor, knees bent
- Hold dumbbells in your hands while keeping them right above your chest, with elbows bent
- Move your both hands simultaneously to the sides like you were releasing someone from a deep hug; keep your elbows bent at the same angle at all times
- When your hands near touch the floor, raise them back up again in a similar manner
- Repeat 10-12 in 3 sets
Intermediate chest exercises
Now that you’ve gone through some beginner stuff, it’s time to raise the plank.
This exercise can be done either with dumbbells or in a machine. Since the latter is easier, we’ll talk about the dumbbell version.
- Take a pair of dumbbells in your hands and raise them up with your elbows facing the floor and palms facing out; your arms should form a 90-degree angle in your elbow joint; keep your spine neutral, relaxed
- Start bringing your hands together in front of your face while maintaining the angle (like a butterfly moving its wings, hence the name)
- Repeat 10-12 times in 2-3 sets
6. Pull-over with a medicine ball
This may seem like a piece-of-cake exercise but trust us – it’s going to make you sweat. This is how you do it.
- Lay down flat on your back on a mat; knees bent, feet are on the floor
- Grab a medicine ball with both hands and place them behind your head as far as possible while keeping your elbows bent at a slight angle
- Raise your hands up until the point where they’re above your chest; keep the elbows bent at the same angle
- Do 12-15 reps in 3 sets
Yes, the good old push-ups. The technique is quite well-known – just make sure you put your hands wider than your shoulder width to concentrate the effort on pectoral muscles.
It’s very important to observe the correct technique so make sure you watch this video before going to the gym.
Time to get serious, girls.
8. Barbell bench press
Every man’s go-to chest exercise is also suitable for women.
- Lie down on the bench on your back
- Take the barbell (start without any weights, just the bar at first) at a width that would make your elbows form a 90-degree angle
- Raise the barbell from the stand and then slowly lower it down till it touches your breast; then raise it back up – make sure not straighten your elbows fully, keep them slightly bent
- Experiment with the bench incline – go from flat to 45-degree
9. Cable flies
A variation of the floor flies we’ve covered earlier, albeit much harder.
- Grab a cable grip handle with each of your hands while laying down on the bench pressing your back against it
- Bring your hands towards each other in above your chest (or in front of your chest, if you’re on an inclined bench)
There are plenty of variations to go with when doing cable flies – watch the video below to learn more.
- Sit on a flat bench and place your hands on it at your shoulder width
- Move your body forward until your knees bend at a 90-degree angle while keeping your hands on the bench
- Now lower your body slowly concentrating on your triceps and pectoral muscles and then raise it back up
See more: How To Do Dips
General tips and recommendations for doing chest exercises
Some of the things you might want to consider before including chest exercises in your workout routine.
- Gradually increase your weights to make the workouts more effective. You may start with lighter weights and easier exercises (like push-ups) to get your body going but then you should start increasing the weight as soon as you notice that your muscles got used to the stress.
- The ideal number of reps is from 8 to 10 for flat bench and incline bench press. For exercises that involve dumbbells, you may stay in the 10 to 12 range. Two or three sets per exercise should do it.
- Don’t forget to rest between the sets – take a minute’s rest between bench presses and 40-45 seconds for dumbbell or cable flies.
- Start your workout with compound exercises that involve most pectoral muscles (bench press). Leave the easier stuff for the end.
- Diet: stay on a normal-calorie diet (calorie intake equals calorie consumption) to achieve the best result. If you move on to the high-calorie diet, you might gain some weight. If you turn to low-calorie diet, you might some of that perfect breast shape due to the absence of fat.
- Frequency: it all depends on your current workout program. If you’re doing full-body, then 3 times a week is just perfect. If you’re following a split-body program, then it’s twice a week. In any case, make sure you have a day’s rest between the workouts to give your muscles time to recover and grow.
These are the things to keep in mind when you’re just starting doing chest exercises.
We’ve talked about some of the best exercises for women. Here are a few bits worth taking away from this article:
- chest exercises are actually good and (if done properly) will not decrease your breasts and make them man-like muscle-bound firm
- chest exercises will help you achieve a better shape for your bust and add some fullness
- start with the easier exercises (like floor press or floor flies), without weights, and then move on to the more advanced stuff
- remember to keep progressing with weights