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Chest Workout: 5 Exercises To Strengthen Your Upper Body

01/16/2014 09:38 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
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THE GOAL: Strengthening your chest (with the bonus of increased upper body strength and potentially lifting up breasts and pecs)

THE EXPERT: Shannon Crane, fitness expert and owner of Brass Vixens Fitness Studio

THE INFO: Crane says, “As an aerial and pole fitness instructor, I know increasing chest strength improves overall performance of other muscle groups, especially the arms. So don't neglect the chest in workouts!”

THE MOVES:

5 Amazing Chest Exercises

Wall Push-Up

Great for beginners or people with back issues. Wall push-ups will prime foundation strength for more advanced chest exercises. Start by standing a few feet in front of a bare wall, lift arms to shoulder level and place palms on wall slightly wider than shoulders. Now back feet away from wall so elbows are bent as you lean in. Now inhale, and exhale as you push off wall. Inhale as you return to start position. Slowing the pace will increase the level of difficulty. Aim for 20 push-ups. Top tip: never arch lower back, or lock arms totally straight, keep flexible bend at elbows at all times.

Hand Cup Press

An easy little move will work chest, and biceps. Stand straight with feet hip distance apart. Raise arms to shoulder level and then cup your hands together in front of chest. Don't interlace fingers. Now, with hands cupped together press palms together – this will engage not only hand muscles but arms and pectoral chest muscles. Press for 30 seconds, stop, and reverse hands, and press again for another 30 seconds. Stop, shake out arms, and repeat move each way, two more times. This can also be done using a stabilizing ball.

Plank Pose

This wonderful exercise not only strengthens chest but also abdomen, arms and lower back. Start plank pose on hands and knees – look like a table. Don't let chest sag down between shoulders. Gaze between hands, tuck toes, and step feet back. Bring length of body and head into a straight line. Hold this plank position for 60 seconds. To come out of pose, drop lightly to knees. Repeat two more times.

Diamond Push-Ups

Like a push-up but with increased difficulty. Awesome move to increase chest muscle strength. Get into push-up position on floor. Make a diamond shape with hands; thumbs and pointer fingers should be touching – thumbs pointing down towards toes, and fingers pointing away in other direction. Now, with hands forming diamond shape, slowly push up off floor as you would normal push-up. Aim to do this five times – it will be hard!

Backpack Push-Ups

Great to do at home if you don't have fancy gym equipment. Take a firm-fitting backpack, preferably one with padded shoulder straps, and fill it with non-sharp household items that have weight. Get into position with the pack and contents fixed firmly to back, and proceed with normal push-ups. The more weight in the backpack, the harder the workout. Start with 10 to 20 push-ups with weighted pack, then adjust if needed. Repeat 20 more times.

Have something that needs fine tuning? Let us know in the comments below.

The new year is the time to take on new challenges, so for the month of January and beyond, The Huffington Post Canada's Living team brings you Fine Tuning: daily workouts, with tips on how to tone up, get healthy and stay fit for the whole year. Each workout will focus on one fitness goal or body part, with our favourite trainers showing you simple ways to get stronger and healthier in less than 45 minutes.

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