Chest exercises for women will truthfully be the same thing for men; however the big and major difference between a man and a woman that I have seen when it comes to working out and developing upper body strength is that women lag behind by a lot. This is normal though as men have more upper body mass than a woman, but a woman generally has an increased amount of lower body muscles than a man. However, don’t fret because they are plenty of awesome chest exercises for women to do to bring up their upper body strength and today we are going to focus on only one exercise with many variations. This exercise does not receive enough credit when it comes to training the upper body muscles especially the chest. It’s often overlooked in most training programs because of its simplicity. And the exercise that I’m talking about is the pushup.
I really hate using the term women pushups because I feel like it is slightly degrading because an exercise should never be classified as a woman or a man’s exercise. But a lot of people refer to the picture below as a women pushup so for now, that is what we are going to call it. There are many variations that you can do for this exercise with the first one having your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees, legs and feet on the ground. From there, slowly lower yourself keeping your elbows at 45 degrees or tuck into your sides and press back. If you are weak, you will want to flare your elbows out which will allow you to get a better stretch reflex at the bottom of the movement so you can come up a lot faster and easier. You want to avoid this at all costs by keeping your elbows tucked into your sides or by pointing them out at a 45 degree angle.
The next variation you can do for them is to just simply pick your feet up off the floor and keep them there for the entire set. By picking your feet up off the floor, you will be lifting more total body weight for the duration of the entire set as opposed to having them on the floor.
Once you get good at those, then you keep your feet up but space your knees further back. This will increase your center of gravity which will force you to move more of your body weight. Again just slowly lower yourself, keep your arms at 45 degrees, and keep your feet up in the air. Your body will be naturally flatter like a plank and lower to the ground during the duration of the set.
Now after you get good at this variation, you can change things up by starting at the bottom position of the pushup. This is much harder for you to do because you are starting without a stretch reflex. All a stretch reflex is, is the elastic bounce you get at the bottom portion of any exercise. This is because your muscles are elastic in nature as well as your tendons. There is a lot of built up force and elastic energy so when you start from a stretch position without that elastic component, it forces the muscle to work that much harder since there is no built up kinetic energy.
Now once these becomes a piece of cake for you, then you can move on to doing pushups off the floor and on a bench. All you’re going to do is place your hands on the bench and bring your body directly over your arms so everything is in line. Push your feet back and slowly lower yourself all the way down and press back up. To make this exercise easier, just simply keep your feet closer to the bench. To make it much harder, push your feet back further so that you’re lifting more of your body weight. When you do this, you will feel more of a stretch in your hamstrings. Also don’t worry about if you come up on your toes when you lower yourself all the way down. This is natural for some people, especially if you don’t have the flexibility in your calves to keep your heel on the ground for the duration of the set.
Okay, so once you get good at these, now you can try and move on to a regular pushup. I’m going to warn you that it might not be that easy at first. In the beginning, you might only be able to get a couple of repetitions which is okay. That’s normal. The easiest and fastest way to get stronger at these is to do multiple sets throughout the day never going to failure. What I mean by this is for each set of pushups that you do, don’t go to exhaustion, to the point where you couldn’t physically get another rep and you would fall straight to the floor if you tried. Leave a rep or two in the tank per set. This will ensure your nervous system does not get burnt out. Also for each rep that you do, make sure to push as hard and as fast as you can. This again will engage your central nervous system and condition it to fire your motor units much faster which will increase your strength over time at a much faster rate.
All in all, the pushup and its many variations is an awesome chest exercise for women. It’s very over rated and rarely used anymore I feel because of its simplicity. But it truly is one of the safest and most beneficial exercises for women to do. Once you master these, then you can move on to other more technical exercises.