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- American Council on Exercise: Workouts and Programs: 5 Cardio Dos & Don'ts
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone: Protein
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How to Get a Rock Hard Chest
While some people carry their weight on meaty thighs and a large lower half, others have to contend with flabby upper arms, a gut and unwanted fat around the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. Together, these muscles form the bulk of your chest. Although it's not possible to lose weight from just one part of the body, diet and cardio -- combined with a series of chest and shoulder exercises -- can help you get the rock-hard chest you've always wanted. For best results, perform these exercises two to three times a week, with a rest day between each workout.
Stand between the dip bars, hands gripping the bars and palms facing in, to begin chest dips. Lean forward slightly and tuck your chin into your chest, which helps focus the brunt of the workout on the chest and shoulder muscles.
Bend your knees to lift your feet off the floor and cross your ankles. Slowly bend your elbows to lower yourself toward the floor, as low as you can without pain. Straighten your elbows to return to the start. Repeat for six to 10 reps, or until you can't do another dip with good form.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, while holding a medium-weight barbell in front of you to perform barbell rows. Bend forward at the waist about 30 degrees -- as with dips, the "forward lean" will help you target your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows to lift the weight to your chest. Lower slowly and repeat for three sets of eight to 10.
Stand up straight and hold one dumbbell over each shoulder with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle to perform a shoulder press. Exhale and straighten your elbows to lift the dumbbells over your head. Keep your back straight, chest lifted as you bend your elbows back to a 90-degree angle. Repeat for one set of eight to 10. This exercise hits both sets of your pec muscles as it helps build your deltoids, or the muscles that add bulk your shoulders.
Hold a barbell or two medium-weight dumbbells in each hand in front of you, palms facing forward, elbows straight to begin a barbell or dumbbell curl. Bend your elbows to bring the weight to your collarbone. Keep your back straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Straighten your elbows slowly to lower your weight. Repeat for one set of eight to 10. You'll hit your biceps with this exercise along with your major and minor pecs.
Stand in front of a cable machine with the cable bars set at the highest position to perform a triceps pushdown. Hold the ends of the rope or hand grips in each hand -- your hands should be level with your chest, elbows bent. Keep your elbows tucked at your sides and relax your shoulders. Exhale and straighten your elbows as you pull the rope downward toward your hips. Slowly bend your elbows to return to start. Repeat for one set of eight to 10. This exercise engages your triceps, pec muscles and deltoids.
Lie on an exercise bench with a bench press rack, your barbell level with your eyes, to perform a basic bench press. Keeping your knees bent and feet planted on the floor, grip the barbell just wider than your shoulders, with your palms facing out and your knuckles pointed toward the ceiling. Lift the barbell and slowly lower it to your chest. Exhale and return the barbell to start. Repeat for three sets of eight to 10, resting for one to two minutes between sets. This exercise builds your major pecs, deltoids and the muscles in your shoulders.
Hold the barbell and plant your feet as you did for the bench press, but only lower the bar 3 to 5 inches, so that your elbows aren't quite bent to a 90-degree angle, to perform a partial lockout. You should feel the burn in your triceps and chest, in both the major and minor pecs. Straighten your elbows to lift the bar. Repeat as many times as you can, using good form and controlled movement.
Lie on a bench without a bench press rack to begin dumbbell flies. Your knees should be bent, feet planted as in your bench press exercises. Hold a medium weight dumbbell in each hand over your chest, elbows straight and palms facing each other. Exhale and slowly open your arms wide to lower your weights toward the floor on either side. You should feel tension -- not pain -- in your chest. This exercise works your major pecs, minor pecs and deltoids. Keep your elbows straight and lift the weights back over your chest to return to the start. Repeat for three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Cardio and Diet
Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio, including running, swimming, biking or elliptical exercise, every week. If you find it too challenging or time-consuming to do your chest exercises and cardio in the same day, do your cardio on your "off" days when you aren't working your chest.
Eat at least 60 g of lean protein, including fish, chicken, lean red meat, nuts, legumes or soy, every day. Incorporating lean protein will help you build the muscle needed for a solid chest.
Consume 30 to 35 percent of your calories from lean protein, 50 to 55 percent from carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and the rest in heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado and nuts. Your body needs some fats, but limiting them will help burn away excess flab from your chest.
If dipping your entire body weight is too challenging, use a dip machine that will allow you to dip while supporting only a fraction of your weight. Use weights that challenge you. You should be able to complete your set with good form, but you shouldn't be able to do many more reps after your set.
Using a spotter for dip and bench press exercises can help you avoid gym injuries. Warm up before your workout with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking, jogging and arm swings to avoid muscle injuries in the chest and shoulders. Cool down with five minutes of stretching that focuses on the back, chest and shoulder muscles. Consider contacting a healthcare professional before you start a new exercise regimen, especially if you've had any past back, shoulder, arm or chest injuries.
- If dipping your entire body weight is too challenging, use a dip machine that will allow you to dip while supporting only a fraction of your weight.
- Use weights that challenge you. You should be able to complete your set with good form, but you shouldn't be able to do many more reps after your set.
- Using a spotter for dip and bench press exercises can help you avoid gym injuries.
- Warm up before your workout with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking, jogging and arm swings to avoid muscle injuries in the chest and shoulders. Cool down with five minutes of stretching that focuses on the back, chest and shoulder muscles.
- Consider contacting a healthcare professional before you start a new exercise regimen, especially if you've had any past back, shoulder, arm or chest injuries.
Lindsey Robinson Sanchez, from Bessemer, Ala., has written for the "Troy Messenger," "The Alabama Baptist" and "The Gainesville Times," where her work was featured on the AP wire. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes style, beauty, fitness, travel and culture.