Perk Up Your Pecs

“There’s nothing worse than trying to partner a dancer who has a loose upper body,” says Mary Leonard, owner of the U.S. Athletic Training Center in NYC. Don’t be that girl! Solve this common problem by giving your pectorals a boost. These muscles, which sit directly underneath your chest, need to be toned like any other muscle in your body, and doing so will improve your partnering skills. Plus, Leonard says, “toned pecs help you look stronger without adding bulk.” All photos by Erin Baiano.

1) Push-Ups

Begin in a plank position, with your hands planted in a triangle (index fingers and thumbs touching). Create a long, straight line from your head to your heels.

Bend your elbows, lowering your body as far as you can without losing your alignment. Then, initiating from your pecs, push back up.

Leonard says: “Hold your abs and glutes tight to keep your body in one line.”

If this feels too intense, drop your knees to the floor. Whichever position you choose, aim for 20 push-ups.

2) Thera-Band Fly: You’ll need one light-resistance Thera-Band

Plant your feet in a sturdy parallel stance. Wrap the Thera-Band around the back of your waist, holding the ends firmly in each hand. Start with your arms in second position. Bring your hands together as though you’re moving around the edge of a large circle from second to first position. When your hands meet, twist them so that the palms face up. Hold for 2 seconds, and then return to starting position. Aim for 20–25 reps.

3) Dumbbell Wide Fly: You’ll need two 3- to 8-lb. weights (choose what’s comfortable for you).

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, hips-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand with your arms in second position floating just above the floor, palms facing up.

Contract your pecs to bring your hands above your head. When they meet, twist your wrists so your palms face the ground. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position.

Leonard says: “Make sure you move slowly, as though the air were really thick.”

4) Overhead Pulls

Lie flat on your back as in the last exercise. Crisscross the weights over each other and hold them behind your head, just above the floor, with a slight bend in the elbows. Keep your core tight so you don’t arch your back.

On an exhale, press the weights up to the ceiling until they’re directly above your face. Slowly return to the starting position.

Leonard says: “Your shoulders should be down, and your wrists should stay straight and strong.”

Click here to see Mary Leonard walk Karla through these exercises.

 

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