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A Total-Body Workout in 5 Easy Steps

Part 1: Firm the Chest

By Chelsea Cooper

Need help devising an exercise routine without the expense of a personal trainer? Get results with fitness expert Chelsea Cooper's five-part exercise series covering each of the major muscle zones. In this first installment, learn exercises and techniques to strengthen and tone your chest. 

Chelsea Cooper at Club No Mercy Intensity Performance Training Studio. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark All photographs taken at Club No Mercy Intensity Performance Training Studio (www.clubnomercy.com) in Huntington Beach, Calif. The chest is an integral part of any resistance program. As you're working the chest muscles, which are called pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, you are also working your shoulder muscles (posterior and anterior deltoids) and your triceps. Most chest exercises work three major upper-body muscles in one exercise.

Contrary to popular belief, chest exercises are not just for men; it is vital for women to have good upper-body strength to perform their daily activities effectively. Exercises should be done at least two days a week to see any results, and three days a week for optimal performance and results. Here are five chest exercises to get you started:

Chelsea Cooper performing flat bench dumbbell chest press. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle. FLAT BENCH DUMBBELL CHEST PRESS

Getting Started

1 Lie on a flat bench with your knees bent.

2 Your feet should be flat on the bench or floor, shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing straight ahead.

3 Hold one dumbbell in each hand at chest level, slightly outside of the body line, with your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle.

Chelsea Cooper performing flat bench dumbbell chest press. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Keep back flat against the bench. Movement

4 Keep your back flat against the bench and press both dumbbells straight up and then together by extending your elbows and contracting the chest. Do not arch your back.

5 Pause at the top.

6 Slowly return the dumbbells toward the body by flexing your elbows and allowing your shoulders to retract and relax.

Progression:  Alternating arm, single-arm.

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