Find your treasure chest

Personal Trainer Ernesto Ortino loves to push his clients but he also loves to workout too. An advocate for a full-body approach, Ernesto aims to work on every major muscle group at least once per week. However, he is the first to admit that the workout that he looks forward to most is his chest day. In this blog Ernesto gives you an insight into why you should work the chest and some top exercises for targeting firm pecs.

To tone your chest muscles, you will need to focus on using the correct workout techniques, and eating a healthy muscle-building diet. Here I’ve put some exercises together that will define and sculpt your chest and help you to look amazing at the beach. An added benefit is that these exercises will also make your arms and shoulders bigger too, so what are you waiting for? Give this workout a try…

Exercise 1

Bodyweight push up (wide grip)

3 sets x 15 reps (rest 45 seconds between sets)

Push ups provide more than 60% of chest muscle activation and are an excellent method to warm up you upper body before lifting weights. What’s more, you can do this exercise everywhere – you’re not relying on gym equipment.

Technique:

  • Lie prone on the mat with your hands palm down slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

  • Push your body up off the floor by extending your arms; remember to keep your body straight.

  • Lower your chest to the ground slowly by flexing your arms. Then repeat.

  • Make this harder by elevating your legs onto a step or bench, or easier by performing the press ups on your knees in a ¾ or box position.

Exercise 2

Assisted triceps dips

2-3 sets x 6-12 reps (depending on your experience) (rest 45-60 seconds between sets)

This can be a tough exercise but it’s one of the best chest exercise movements for fast muscle build. To avoid pain and injuries, remember when using weights, to lift just enough weight to fatigue you after your set. If you’re struggling, reduce the weight. Once you are feeling strong and confident – try bodyweight dips.

Technique:

  • Select the weight (remember the heavier the weight is, the easier it is for you).

  • Kneel on the bottom of the platform and grab the handles with palms facing inwards.

  • The weight will bring you up; make sure you keep a straight position. Keep your upper body vertical and your wrists straight.

  • Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

  • Push back up to the start until your arms are fully extended. Make sure that you lean slightly forward, keeping your core engaged and your spine straight.

Exercise 3

Flat chest press – resistance machine

For toning: 3 sets x 12/15 reps (rest 45 seconds between sets)

For size: 3-4 sets x 8/10 reps (rest 60 seconds between sets)

For strength: 4-5 sets x 5 reps (rest 90 seconds between sets)

This exercise is perfect for when you are fatiguing or don’t feel 100% confident using free weights. You can build your strength and shoulder stability which will prepare you and your chest for your first bench presses. You can choose to work a strength range by picking a weight which fatigues you after 4-5 reps or add some definition by lowering the weight but upping the reps to around the 15 rep mark.

Technique:

  • Adjust the chest press seat so that you are sitting upright with your back in contact with the seat, feet on the floor and handles between nipple and shoulder height.

  • Select the appropriate weight based on your overall fitness goal.

  • Grasp the handles with an overhand grip, exhale as you push away until your arms are straight out with your elbows slightly bent. Try to squeeze your chest muscle, inhale then slowly and with control, return to the initial position.

There are three killer chest exercises for you. Now the big question….how many times a week do you need to work on your pecs?

Your pectorals are big muscles that take longer to recover, so to avoid overtraining them I would suggest you train them once or twice a week. If you solely do a ‘chest workout’ then once a week should suffice, but if you are incorporating this workout into a session with other body parts, then you may be able to squeeze in a second session. Remember, your shoulders and triceps will be playing a part in these movements, so if you’ve done a heavy workout on either of these body parts, I’d recommend a day’s rest before you try this chest workout.

Have fun and before long, you’ll be admiring your toned and chiselled chest!

If you’d like more advice on training from Ernesto or to simply let him know how you got on with his workout, you can tweet him @Italiantrainer or send him a message on facebook.com/theitaliantrainer

ymca | 27 May 2014