Chest Exercises to Help Tone and More

Whether a man or a woman, strong, developed chest muscles are a plus

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael W. Smith, MD

Sure, chest exercises help give a man a nice physique, but working out the chest can help women, too, by lifting sagging chests and breasts.

Think of anything you do that involves pushing and you've discovered what you use the chest muscles for. Whether it's pushing a lawn mower, baby carriage, or grocery cart, strong chests help us perform these tasks.

In addition, chest muscles are essential in sports like tennis, free-style swimming, and all sports where you throw a ball.

"Just because of the forward motion of daily life, the pectorals tend to get used," says Richard Cotton, an exercise physiologist in San Diego.

Things like driving or working at a computer all day keep chest muscles activated at a low level. That's good and bad, he says.

"The challenge is too much pec exercise," says Cotton. For example, someone who sits at a computer eight hours a day can really suffer negative effects from having continually engaged pectorals.

Posture Is Key

"We tend to get shorter muscles from working keyboards," he says. Shorter muscles mean a tighter chest and that usually translates to weak back muscles.

This can become a postural problem, having rounded shoulders and not being able to stand upright. It can also lead to shoulder injuries as the arms suffer a decreased range of motion.