4 unexpected benefits of chest exercises

When was the last time you did a chest exercise? If you’re having difficulty answering this question, you’re definitely not the only one. Despite all the benefits that strength training offers—reduced fat, improved heart health, controlled blood sugar levels, boosted flexibility and mobility—it doesn’t seem to be enough to get most women interested in doing regular chest exercises.

"Many people, especially women, are intimidated and hesitant to incorporate strength training into their exercise routines," says Dr. Amy Ravindra, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute Sports Medicine.

"The key is to start small and simple, with low weights at high repetition, and gradually build-up from there," Dr. Ravindra adds. "This approach will help build confidence and avoid injury."

Here are 4 benefits of working out your pectoralis major and minor:
  1. Improved Posture: As one of the largest muscles in your upper body, the pecs play a major role in maintaining good posture. In addition to your back and shoulder muscles, your pecs help to stabilize the shoulder joint. 

  2. Better Breathing: In addition to improving your posture, strengthening and lengthening chest muscles helps to support deeper breathing. That’s because the pecs are attached to your ribs, which expand with every breath. 

  3. Breast Support: Contrary to the popular belief that doing chest exercises will make breasts smaller, doing pectoral exercises will actually do the exact opposite. By building muscle around breast tissue, this helps to provide more lift and support. 

  4. Everyday Perks: Even if you don’t realize it, you use your pecs an awful lot during daily activities. Anything that involves lifting, holding, squeezing or pushing calls on your pecs; so it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra strength in that muscle group.

"When strengthening your chest muscles, it's also important to remember to strengthen the muscles in your back concurrently, which will help with balance and posture," says Dr. Ravindra.

Asking for a friend, how does one go about working out pecs?

Some of the most popular pec strength-training exercises, include:

  • Barbell bench press
  • Pec dec machine
  • Bent-forward cable crossover
  • Chest press machine
  • Inclined dumbbell flys
  • Dips
  • Push-ups

But according to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, there are a few moves that really stand out above the rest. To develop muscle size, the barbell bench press is at the very top of the list, followed closely by the pec deck machine and the bent-forward cable crossover.


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Dr. Amy Ravindra picture

Dr. Amy Ravindra

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedics, Sports Medicine

Dr. Amy Ravindra is a fellowship-trained, board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of orthopaedic injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, with specialized focus on the shoulder and elbow. Dr. Ravindra completed her medical education and residency in orthopedic surgery at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where she also served as chief resident. She then completed her shoulder and elbow fellowship at the University of Washington.

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