When someone asks you “How much can you bench?” it is usually a way for them to determine your overall strength, and usually what the muscles in your arms can handle. But actually bench presses are a great form of chest training. It’s more common to find men bench pressing than women, as there is a myth that women who work out should not have the muscular chests that male bodybuilders do. But since women are born with less natural upper-body strength than men, it is especially important for women to exercise their chest muscles so they can balance their upper-body strength.

What to expect from a chest workout

You need to train your chest muscles to give them strength and endurance. If you are focusing on every other muscle group instead, you will end up with the type of muscular imbalances that can develop bad posture or an inability to perform other exercise movements properly. If your chest muscles cannot pull their own mass, you stand more of a chance of being injured when you work with weights. You do not need to work out with the intensity of a bodybuilder to develop your chest muscles. If you only want to be strong enough to excel in your sport or be able to carry heavy furniture on your own, that is totally fine. Any amount of chest training in your schedule will help your cause.

How to prepare for a chest workout

You do not need to do too much to prepare. As important as toning your chest is, it can come down to three exercises: pushups, chest flyes, and bench presses. Incorporating these exercises into your weekly routine should be quite easy because you do not need to linger over them to reap the physical benefits. Twice a week will be plenty enough time to strengthen them.

Muscles you'll work during a chest workout

Chest exercises benefit your pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles, aka your "pecs". While men’s bodies show off their progress with a wide frame and tight t-shirts, women who make progress with chest workouts develop leaner muscles and also burn more fat. Your chest covers a lot of muscles, so as you training that area you are burning extra calories. That’s more fat to burn, compared to the smaller muscle groups. So if you are a woman who is worried about resembling the Hulk if you do too many bench presses, worry not. You will stay looking lean, just with muscles that are a bit more defined.

Tips for success with chest workouts

Like most other exercises, if you want to continue to improve over a long period of time you need to try new forms of exercise every once in a while. Do not settle into a comfortable routine, because it will stop pushing your body to its limits and you will cease to improve. You can switch up your barbell bench press with a dumbbell bench press, although you should note that you might not be able to use as much weight as you did with the barbell. Pushups are great for beginners who might not be as enthusiastic as benching heavy weights just yet.

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