3 Go-To Chest Exercises for Beginners

member and trainer at chest press machine in Planet Fitness
Whether they are the first muscles you think of targeting in the gym, or the last, your chest muscles play an integral role in the movement of your arms and shoulders.

by Steven Auger

Next time you give one of your loved ones a big bear hug, remember to thank your chest muscles for the ability to wrap your arms around them and squeeze them tight!

Whether they are the first muscles you think of targeting in the gym, or the last, your chest muscles play an integral role in the movement of your arms and shoulders. If you're new to exercising and desire a powerful chest (but don't quite know where to begin), we've got you covered.

Chest Exercises for Beginners

If you've ever heard anyone refer to their chest muscles as "pecs," they're talking about their pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. According toHealthline, the pectoralis major and minor form the majority of the chest. Pec major runs from the armpit to the collarbone, extending down across the lower chest. Pec minor lies beneath pec major and lines the upper ribs.

Ready to start building strength in these muscles? Try these three great chest exercises for beginners.

1. Dumbbell Bench Press

After selecting a set of weights that you can comfortably lift, lie down on a flat bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your upper arm and forearm should create a 90-degree angle, with your elbows at the sides of your chest. At this point, the palms of your hands should be facing each other. Now, rotate your wrists so your palms face forward (away from your face). This is your starting position.

Use your chest muscles to push the dumbbells upward, exhaling as you go. When your arms are fully extended, take a moment and tighten the muscles in your chest. Hold this position before slowly lowering the dumbbells. Aim to make lowering the weights take twice as long as lifting them. That's one repetition!

2. Butterfly Machine

Prior to sitting down on the butterfly machine, adjust the seat height so that it is comfortable for you. Then, place your back flat against the pad. Grip the handles and check to verify that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. You are now ready to perform the exercise.

As you slowly push the handles together, squeeze your arms toward the middle of your chest and exhale through the movement. Hold this position for a moment, then inhale as you slowly return to starting position. This counts as one complete repetition.

3. Pushups

Unlike the dumbbell bench press or butterfly machine, pushups rely on nothing but your body weight, so no equipment is needed! To start, assume a fullplank position. Place the palms of your hands flat on the floor, about shoulder-width apart. The balls of your feet should touch the floor as well, either together or spaced a foot apart.

With your back straight and core muscles tight, distribute your weight evenly throughout your body. Look toward the floor. Then, lower your body until both elbows form a 90-degree angle. Push into the floor and return your body to the plank position to complete one repetition. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged through the movement to get the best workout possible and help avoid injury.

If you're looking to build strength, the chest is a great place to start. Mastering a few chest exercises for beginners is a good way to develop your upper body while improving your overall health. As you get stronger, you can add more reps!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.