If you have been following me, or know me, at all, you would know I do not believe “chest day best day.” Historically, chest day has always been my least favorite. My chest, like most women’s, has always been weak. My upper body in general has always been weaker than my lower body, so it’s really not as much fun to train. Even as I started to train upper body more, I avoided chest movements. I avoided bench press, chest flys, pushups, anything chest. In my mind, I didn’t want a “manly chest,” and thought lifting chest more than once every two months would give me pecs that could dance, ala Terry Crews. However, who would’ve guessed that I was wrong and went through a dumb, painful experience that could’ve been prevented if I just worked chest? (Everyone raise your hands)
My years of avoiding chest, and only working arms, shoulders, and back, had caught up to me, leaving me incredibly imbalanced. My upper back was so tight, with no chest to counterbalance that tightness, that it ended up causing my ribs to dislocate. Months of chiropractic care and recovery techniques later, I was back in action. But now, I was more aware as to what encompasses “health,” and it was more than just things that I like doing. I know, just like myself, many people avoid movements and exercises that they don’t like. Along with myself, many women tend to avoid chest, for the same reasons I did. Well Ladies, we need to train chest.
Your chest muscle group is composed of two muscles, the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major is the big muscle in your chest, with the pectoralis minor lying underneath of the major.
The pec major originates from your humerus (upper arm) bone, fans across your chest, attaching to both your clavicle and your sternum. The pec major is in charge of keeping your humerus close to your body. As well, the pec major is in charge of flexing the humerus, or moving the humerus in front of the body, along with horizontal adduction, which is moving the humerus across the front of the body.
The pec minor originates from the top of your scapula (shoulder blade) and attaches to your ribs. The pec minor does not have as much responsibility when it comes to motion, like the pec major does, but it is equally important. The pec minor is in charge of keeping your shoulder blades depressed and retracted (close to the body and flat). As well, the pec minor can be the difference between good posture and rounded shoulders if it is too tight.
Why do we train chest?
If we train every other aspect of our bodies, but neglect chest, our bodies will obviously be unbalanced. The most basic and important reason to train chest as a woman, is for muscular balance. I’ve harped on this plenty, but muscular balance has many benefits in both training and a healthy life. In training, muscular balance helps to reduce the risk of injury greatly, while also allowing for optimal muscle movements and contractions. In life, muscular balance will help to allow pain free movement, as well as helping with posture and proper movement patterns. The more balanced you are, the more overall stability your body will have.
Just because you have to train chest doesn’t mean that you have to have a full day of bench press though. Since it is a larger muscle group, it should not be paired with other larger muscle groups, such as back. I recommend adding chest movements into your shoulder training days, or your arm days. A nice way to incorporate chest into your training would be to have a “push” training day. Your chest muscles main action is to push, and incorporate other “push” muscles, such as triceps and shoulders. Combining all of these muscles into one day can help to strengthen the overall pushing movement, without needing to give each muscle group involved its own day, especially if you are not a fan of one of the components.
The main point I am trying to make is that chest day is important. Especially for women, it may not be fun, and it may not be the muscles you are looking to define and exaggerate, but chest day is important. It is important for muscular balance, and overall strength and stability. Below I have included two sample chest training days, one full chest day and one push day. Try them out!
Sample Chest Day:
Warm Up: 10 minutes cardio, 1 set incline pushups
A1: Dumbbell Chest Press 10 reps
B1: Incline Dumbbell Chest Press 10 reps
C1: Pec Fly Machine 10 reps
C2: Push-ups (full or modified) 10 reps
D1: Front Raise 12 reps
Sample “Push” Day:
Warm Up: 10 minutes cardio, 1 set incline pushups, 1 set light overhead press
A1: Dumbbell Chest Press 10 reps
B1: Overhead Shoulder Press 10 reps
C1: Incline Chest Press 10 reps
C2: Lateral DB Raises 10-12 reps
D1: Upright Row 10 reps
D2: Face Pulls 10-12 reps
(Unfortunately, this video had a glitch so stop watching after the face pulls 🙈)