Strong chest muscles balance out the ones in your back, core, arms and legs. The chest is one of the most overlooked areas to tone, however. Luckily, you can work chest-strengthening exercises into your cardio routine to net the benefits of a balanced body. When your body is balanced, you will avoid injuries while pressing yourself to the limits each session. Here are three exercises to work into your weekly routine starting today.
Although dips target the hard-to-activate triceps, you will also build strength in your chest and back with each rep. Start with the basic dip routine, which begins by lowering your body on the dip bars with your arms positioned next to your outer thighs. From there, you can alter your arm and leg positions to increase the difficulty.
You may also change up your grip formation to amp up the difficulty and build muscles faster. Start with five reps of ten dips and increase the number of reps when the exercise starts to feel too easy. Make sure to do the dips fast enough to get your heart pumping without breaking the proper form.
As with dips, you can strengthen your chest muscles by performing quick resistance band reps. The movements that work the chest muscles the most are forward, side and backward arm pulls. You can perform these movements with the bands firmly wedged under a tightly fitting door or by stepping on the bands in the middle. Try these movements while seated on a stability ball to activate your core muscles and increase the difficulty of your workout.
If you are unsure about your strength level, just start with the light resistance bands and steadily move your way up. Begin with five reps of twenty-five with a short thirty-second break in between. Continually add reps as your chest, arm and back muscles grow in strength.
Holding yourself low to the ground and pushing yourself up uses your powerful pectoral muscles. Although the typical pushup position includes holding your hands directly under your shoulders, you can activate your chest muscles as well by placing your hands further out to the side.
In addition, you can increase the difficulty even more by wearing a weighted vest during your pushup routine. Start with a five pound weighted vest and slowly add weight week to week. Perform a few pushups to test out the vest after each weight change. If the vest feels okay, up your effort to three reps of five pushups and continue building from there.
Finding Your Groove
You’ll need to gauge how you feel after each workout to determine if the reps adequately build your muscles without wearing you out too much. Although you want to feel the effects, you shouldn’t be too sore to move. In addition, keep a close eye on your heart rate to keep it in the target range. Adjust your workout intensity, speed and length to bring the rate into range if it’s too high or low.