Even if you're not working up to your bench press PR (or know what that means — no shame), it's still a great idea to do some strengthening and stretching of your chest. After all, your chest muscles — namely your pectoralis major and minor — play an important role in lots of everyday movements, such as pushing, pulling, and lifting. And if you're the sporty type, a strong chest can improve your game in sports like tennis, swimming, and anything that involves throwing a ball.
While you might have heard that doing a ton of push-ups could make your chest bigger and fill out that bikini top, it's not exactly true; women don't tend to have the testosterone levels that are required for major muscle mass. (Plus, we're fans of learning to feel great about the way your body looks
right now.) But focusing on the chest definitely has some aesthetic benefits: Specifically, stretching your pecs can help with posture
, since hypertonic — a.k.a. overly strong and tight — chest muscles can actually pull your shoulders forward, creating a rounding in your upper back. And there's nothing like standing up straight and holding your head high to make you look and feel awesome.
So whether you're working out to feel better in your body generally, you're training for a sport, or you just want to be strong enough to move all those boxes into your new apartment on your own, it can't hurt to try out a few moves to make sure your upper body is in tip-top shape.
Click through to find a few chest-strengthening and -stretching moves. You can do these at home with minimal equipment (though if you prefer heavier dumbbells or a barbell, make sure you have a spotter).