You use your chest muscles in lots of everyday life scenarios: Pretty much anytime you perform a pushing motion—for example, steering a full cart of groceries or heaving a box back onto a shelf—your chest muscles are at work. And the stronger this muscle group is, the easier and more efficient your day-to-day movements will feel.
When you think about strengthening your chest, free weights like dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells probably come to mind. But a cable chest workout is an effective-yet-underrated way to smoke your upper half and can be a great addition to your upper-body strength training program along with those pec dumbbell workouts or kettlebell circuits you may already have slotted in.
Cable workouts are great routines to add to the mix because cables keep your muscles under constant tension, as opposed to free weights which give your muscles breaks from tension at certain parts of the moves. Cables also limit momentum in your movements, which can translate to greater demands on your muscles.
Chances are you don’t have a cable machine set up at home, meaning you’d have to go to the gym to get in a good cable chest workout. That’s where resistance bands come in: Resistance bands work your muscles very similarly to how cables do, and you can mimic a cable set-up by fixing the resistance bands to an anchor point.
Once you do this you can use resistance bands to target your chest muscles, as well as your triceps and the front of your shoulders, just like a cable workout would. Ready to seriously strengthen your upper body at home with resistance bands? Keep scrolling for an amazing, routine that you’ll want to add to your arsenal of good chest workouts.
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What you need:
A resistance band. The right level of resistance will depend on your fitness level and other factors, but as a general jumping-off point, start with a medium-strength band. Start with the AMRAP set, which stands for “as many reps as possible.” Do as many push-ups as you can with good form. Rest for 1–2 minutes, then repeat. Complete 3 rounds total.
This works your chest muscles as well as your front deltoids (shoulders), triceps, and core. Make it easier by placing your hands on an elevated surface, like a step, bench, or counter. The higher your hands, the easier it will be. As you perform reps, think about continually bracing your core and make sure your spine stays in the same alignment the entire time.
- Get into a high plank with your hands flat, wrists stacked under your shoulders, ribs and your core, quads, and butt engaged.
- Bend your elbows to lower your body to the floor in a push-up.
- Press through your palms to straighten your arms.
- Do as many reps as you can while maintaining good form.
- Stop when you can’t do another rep with good form.
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This isolation movement targets the triceps. Make sure you feel a slight stretch in the triceps when your arms are bent and a contraction when your arms are straight; this ensures there’s always tension on the muscle. If this movement hurts your shoulders, banded tricep pushdowns instead.
Essentially, stand facing the anchor point and hold the resistance band with both hands at chest level, then perform reps by pressing your arms down and apart.
- Loop a resistance band onto something secure behind you. Grab hold of it with both hands and get into a staggered stance with feet about hip-distance apart and one-foot several feet in front of the other. Your front knee should be slightly bent.
- Holding the band with both hands, raise your arms overhead with your elbows bent and pointing toward the ceiling. (It’s OK if your elbows are pointed forward slightly as shown; this is easier on your shoulders.)
- Press your hands together so they are touching, and pull your elbows in as close to your head as you can.
- Without moving your upper arms, straighten your elbows and extend your arms and the band overhead. Keep your shoulders down, your core tight, and your arms as close to your head as possible.
- Pause for a second, and then slowly bend your arms to return to the starting position.
- Do 10–15 reps, making sure your spine stays neutral the whole time and that movement only occurs at the elbow joint.