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Chest Workouts for Women

The Lean Muscle Series: Chest, Bi’s and Tri’s

Chasing chest and arm perfection? This at-home workout is your answer.

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To look your best, you must curl and press. That may not be a popular fitness mantra, per se — but we think it should be when it comes to chest workouts. 

Developing the pectorals is especially underrated for women, but that’s a mistake. Strong, developed chest muscles not only can help “lift” our breasts to a degree, but they also create shape and lines that enhance our side view. Add in tight, lean triceps and biceps that wow from any angle, and you’ll be on your way to your dream body.

This workout includes five exercises that require nothing more than a simple at-home-friendly selection of equipment: dumbbells, kettlebells, a stability ball, a medicine ball, and if you’d like a little bonus muscle stimulation, an exercise band. A few weeks of this regimen and you’ll soon join us as a true believer in the power of presses and curls (and extensions, too)!

The Chest, Bi’s and Tri’s (Oh My!) Workout

Perform the superset exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. In between supersets, rest one to two minutes max. For weighted moves, choose successively heavier dumbbells or kettlebells from set to set.

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Floor Press 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Incline Stability-Ball Dumbbell Press
— superset with —
Medicine-Ball Push-Up
4

4
10-12

to failure
Kettlebell Alternating Curl
— superset with —
Lying Two-Dumbbell Triceps Extension
4

4
10, 9, 8, 7

10, 9, 8, 7

Exercises

Dumbbell Floor Press

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Lie on the floor, back flat and knees bent with your feet planted. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, starting with your arms straight up toward the ceiling, with the dumbbells directly over your chest and about 1 inch apart, palms facing your feet. From there, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells slowly until your upper arms are flush on the floor. Pause for a one-count, then powerfully press the weights upward. Throughout, your wrists and elbows should remain stacked atop one another, forming a line that remains directly perpendicular to the floor.

Pro Tip: To increase the intensity, you can introduce a band to the equation. Lie on the band so it’s anchored around your upper back and hold an end in each hand, looped on your palm taut (but not excessively tight). Hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform the movement as described above. The bands will add extra tension to the lift that progressively increases as you approach the top of each rep. 

Incline Stability-Ball Dumbbell Press

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Lie on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor, dropping your hips downward slightly toward the floor until your torso is angled as if you were on an incline bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand just outside your shoulders, elbows bent and arms forming a 90-degree angle with your body — your triceps will be in contact with the ball at this point. From here, powerfully press the dumbbells upward toward the ceiling, stopping when they come to an inch or so away from each other above your upper chest, then slowly bend your elbows to lower the weights back down to the start.

Pro Tip: If you reach muscle failure on incline presses, you can extend the set with a quick adjustment. Simply change your position, lifting your hips and rolling back enough that your torso is directly atop the ball, and finish with flat presses. Since you’re typically stronger in a flat-press position than an incline, you should be able to eke out a few more reps before hitting failure again. 

Medicine-Ball Push-Up

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In a plank position, place your feet together, toes on the floor, with your hands together atop a medicine ball (you can form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs on the ball if you wish) and your elbows extended. Keeping your head neutral and abs tight, lower yourself as far as you can by bending your elbows, then press through your palms until your arms are straight once again, focusing on flexing your pectorals and triceps while also maintaining your balance throughout.

Pro Tip: Don’t have a med ball handy? You can instead do double duty with the Swiss ball and perform push-ups on it instead — it’ll provide an even bigger balancing challenge than the smaller medicine ball. If you have trouble, start with your feet spaced wider apart until you get the hang of it.

Kettlebell Alternating Curl 

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Stand holding kettlebells by the handle at your sides, one in each hand, with a supinated (palms up) grip. Your elbows should be fully open and your upper arms at your sides. Now, maintaining your upright posture, flex the biceps of your right arm to curl the kettlebell upward toward your front delt — bend your elbow as much as possible without allowing it to flare outward. Squeeze your biceps hard at the top before slowly returning the kettlebell to the starting position, then repeat with the opposite arm. When one arm is curling, the other arm remains straight and at your side.

Pro Tip: To really feel the burn, finish your set with an isometric hold. After you can’t complete any more complete reps with good form, bend your elbow to a point at which your forearm is directly perpendicular to the floor and hold that position for as long as you can. You also can try small “pulse” reps in this midposition until failure.

Lying Two-Dumbbell Triceps Extension

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Lie faceup with your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand overhead, elbows straight, in a neutral (palms facing one another) grip. They should be spaced 8 to 12 inches apart — just wide enough that they won’t hit your head on the way down. Squeeze your triceps as you slowly lower the dumbbells downward. At the bottom, your elbows will be at 90-degree angles and the weights will be at either side of your head near your temples. Powerfully flex your triceps to straighten your elbows and lift the weights back to the start. Throughout each rep, make sure that your upper arms remain fixed in place so that the only movement is happening in the forearms.

Pro Tip: Ready to increase the difficulty? Throughout the exercise, keep your upper arms angled back a few degrees so they’re not fully perpendicular to the floor. This way, your triceps will have to keep fighting gravity throughout, meaning they remain engaged even at the top of a rep without a chance to relax, as happens when your arms are directly perpendicular to the floor.