Chest strengthening and stretching exercises help to improve posture, open your lungs and rib cage for better breathing, strengthen arms, back and shoulders to lower your risk for injury in sports and daily activities, and just make you look firmer and feel better. If you have limited or no access to a weight room or gym equipment, use body weight and isometrics to tone and tighten your pecs and upper body.
Begin on all fours on your exercise mat with your hands a little wider than your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the mat. Flatten out your hips so that they are in line with heels and shoulders. Contract your abdominal and chest muscles and slowly lower your body down towards the ground in one piece, bending your elbows out to the side. When you get 1 inch from the ground, press yourself back up again. Don't let your hips sag as you press up. Repeat as many times as you can for one or two sets with a 30- to 60-second rest in between. You can also do this exercise with your knees on the mat, if you find the full version too challenging.
Sit with your butt on the edge of a sturdy chair, feet flat on the floor and hands grasping the edges of the seat on either side of your hips. Walk your feet out a few inches and slide your butt off the seat and in front of the chair. Slowly bend your arms and lower your butt toward the floor. When your elbows are at right angles to your torso, push yourself back up. Repeat as many times as you can with proper form for one or two sets.
Begin by standing and contracting your chest and abdominal muscles. Fold forward and place your hands on the floor. Slowly walk your hands out, away from you, one at a time. Allow your heels to come up off the floor. When you get to a plank position, do a full pushup. Come back to plank position and slowly walk your feet up to your hands. Continue inchworms in one fluid motion until you have completed 10 to 20 full repetitions.
Stand or sit in an upright position, lengthen your torso and square your shoulders. Join your palms together in the center of your chest and begin to press them into each other as hard as you can. Don't let either side overpower the other. Focus on contracting your chest muscles as you hold the press for 10 to 15 seconds. Rest for five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.