Chest and Shoulder Workouts for Women

Build a great toned shape from top to bottom by working your chest and shoulders

Women performing a bench press as part of her chest and shoulders workout

It’s not all about booty and legs girls, that gorgeous well-rounded physique comes from working every element of your body. Your shoulders and chest play a key role in creating a trim, toned look from head to toe.

The best way to get that all round look is to have a killer chest and shoulder workout in your back pocket. If you’re bossing leg day but don’t quite know where to start with chest, don’t sweat it. That’s what we’re here for, girl.

Article preview: 

  • Why you should do chest and shoulder workouts for women
  • Chest and shoulder training program tips
  • Goals: What do you want from your workout? 
  • Chest and shoulder workouts for women

 

Why you should do chest and shoulder workouts for women

Whether you’re training for physique or to shift some serious weights, your chest can’t be neglected.

When it comes to lifts, your chest adds another level of strength to all your compound movements and working those pectoral muscles is key to achieving the coveted chest line for competition.

With that in mind, you really can’t skip chest day. Those large muscles need a smart workout that gets every fiber burning.

The chest is made up of two muscles, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, aka your ‘pecs’. Despite consisting of only two major primary muscles, they cover a pretty big space within your body and help your arms move forward and across your body. So they’re pretty much responsible for a lot of your upper body movement.

Your shoulders are also key to creating that shapely figure you’re dreaming of. For us girls, it’s all about curves and by adding a little toned muscle to your upper body, you’ll make your waist look thinner, creating that gorgeous hourglass figure. Goals.

To achieve this Instagram-worthy physique, you need to create a varied workout plan that hits all these muscles, through a variety of compound and isolated movements.

 

Chest and shoulders training program tips

Building your upper body takes a lot of work for women. Guys love chest and shoulders day, but for us, the muscles we’re building aren’t as obvious or as pronounced as theirs are. That’s why a fully developed training program is essential.

Your chest muscles are quite large, so it’s essential you have the right approach to training to achieve optimum gains.

You should aim to add two or three different compound movements into your chest and shoulder workouts for women. We’re talking bench press, shoulder press, flys – all of these will recruit more muscles and work your body in a more functional way.

Couple those with a few of isolation movements and you can really get your chest working to the max.

 

Woman with defined shoulders doing a lateral raise

Goals: what do you want from your workout?

Before you start your chest and shoulder workout, think about what it is you’d like to achieve. Different types of training and rep and set patterns can change the way your body builds muscle. Follow these general rules to help you achieve the physique you’re looking for.

 

Maintenance

To keep up general fitness, you’ll really benefit from 12-15 reps at a challenging weight over the course of 2-3 sets. High volume reps and lower weights should keep your muscles in shape and working hard to maintain those you already have on your chest and shoulders.

 

Mass

If physique and competition is your bag, then you want to be looking for mass increasing exercises. This will sit in the 8-12 reps range, for 3-4 sets. Numbers like these will give you some serious pumps that last, perfect if you’re trying to perfect that superwoman body.

 

Strength

You might have your eyes on that next bench PB, in which case you need to craft your muscles to support strength. To achieve this you need to up the weight and reduce the reps for a heavy workout. Aim to complete between 6-10 reps over 3-4 sets for a strength building session.

 

When it comes to building muscle in the chest and shoulders, us ladies need to play it smart. Use these rep and set patterns to achieve your desired results. Include at least one dedicated chest and shoulders workout for women in your weekly routine to get the best possible results.

 

Woman performing an overhead press

Chest and shoulder workouts for women

Once you’ve decided on your rep and set pattern, you can apply them to the following exercises. We’ve created a workout, focusing in on your chest and shoulders for maximum effect. It’s made up of a range of compound and isolated movements so you can feel the burn across your whole chest and feel incredible results.

 

Bench press.

Think of this as the foundation of your chest workout, so it’s best to hit it first so you can really max out. There’s a reason bench is the staple of an intense upper-body day. It recruits just about every muscle in your chest to set you up for a burning workout.

  • Lie on the bench and grip the bar at just outside a shoulder width apart. You can adjust your grip to change the muscles you focus on
  • Your legs should be firmly rooted on the floor and there should be a slight arch in your back, just enough to slide your hand under the small of your back
  • Take the bar out of the rack and hold it straight up above the top of your chest
  • Slowly bend your arms to lower the bar the middle of your chest, just over the nipples
  • In a smooth, controlled motion push the bar back up until your arms are straight again

 

Strict shoulder press.

This core compound movement is key for building strength and muscle in your shoulders. It pulls in a range of muscles and gets them working together for a delt-defining workout.

  • Stand straight up with your feet hip width apart
  • Grip your bar about shoulder width apart bar and hold it with your arms bent and it resting against your chest, just at the base of your neck. Keep your elbows down with the weight of the bar in your palms.
  • Moving your head out of the way, press the bar directly upwards and lock out your arms. As you perform this movement, keep your core strong and don’t arch your back
  • Return the bar to your start position

 

Incline dumbbell bench press.

This slight variation on the bench press changes your angle of approach. With this on top of your usual bench you can alter the focus to really target the full muscle group. As a unilateral exercise, it will also help you target any imbalances you may be experiencing in your chest.

  • Set your bench at around a 45-degree incline
  • Take your dumbbells and lie on the bench
  • Hold the dumbbells down on either side of your chest so you feel the strain across the muscles
  • In a measured, controlled movement, push the dumbbells up until your arms are straight and they come together above your chest
  • Return to your start position

 

Lateral raises.

This exercise isolates your deltoids for an absolute scorcher of a shoulder workout. It’s simple and quick to do, but the results are amazing.

  • Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart
  • Take a dumbbell in each hand
  • Slightly flex your arms
  • Raise your dumbbells up to shoulder height before slowly returning them to your sides

 

Pec deck.

Most good gyms will have a pec deck machine, and it’s such a great way to target your pecs to really drill into those individual muscles. Maybe ask your workout partner to open your post-workout protein bar though… this one will hit you hard, girl.

  • Sit at the pec deck with the handles adjusted so they’re in line with your shoulders
  • Grip the handles and slightly flex your arms to reduce the strain on your biceps
  • Sweep your arms in an arcing motion until they’re in front of you
  • Move your arms back and out until they’re in line with your shoulders. Don’t go too far backward as you may lose the tension

 

woman performing a seated dumbbell press

Seated dumbbell press.

This is the queen finisher of the shoulder workouts. It works a range of muscles and you’ll feel every one of them as you work through your reps. If you want to take this one up a notch (and we know you do), consider performing these as a drop set. You’ll struggle washing your hair when you get home, but it’s totally worth it.

  • Set your bench to an upright position
  • Sit down and hold a dumbbell in each hand
  • Lift them up so your arms are bent and they’re resting just in front and outside of your shoulders
  • Push directly upwards until your arms are locked out and straight
  • Return to the resting position

 

Cable crossover.

This is the ultimate chest workout finisher. The constant resistance of the cable machine will get your pecs feeling like fiyah. Bonus: it also looks awesome and flexes the muscles across your whole upper body so you look shredded while you work. You’ll feel like the queen of the gym.

  • Stand between two cable machines with the heights adjusted to just above the shoulder
  • Take a cable in each hand and pull them so you’re holding your hands together in front of you at just above hip height. Find the center of the machine and step out forward.
  • In a strong lunge position, keep your arms slightly flexed and bring your arms up and out to open up your chest. Your hands should be sit in line with your shoulders and your elbows should be up and strong. It’s important that you don’t bring your arms too far back, otherwise, you won’t feel the stretch across your chest.
  • Keeping your chest up and your back strong, squeeze through your pecs and bring your arms down in a smooth motion to your start position.

 

 

Good luck washing and drying your hair, cos this workout is a real burner. We’d say we’re sorry, but we know you’ll forgive us when you feel the benefits settling in. We’re talking amazing gains and increased strength girls.

If you feel like you could go harder, take your workout to the next level with a powerful pre-workout, designed to help you push yourself to the max. With this in your system, you’ll have the added energy to really fulfill your full potential.

Looking for more killer workouts from your favorite fitness sisters at SMG? Girl, you don’t have to ask us twice:

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