Exercise Tips to Tone Men's Chest & Belly

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Men often can handle more weight and therefore find it easier to build tone than women. Certain exercises will therefore be more appropriate for men because they require more upper-body strength. Yet any exercise can be used to build lean muscle or add some bulk and do some toning. Typically, doing sets of 6 to 10 repetitions will increase strength and muscle size, whereas higher repetitions will increase muscular endurance and build leaner, more toned muscles.

Chest Exercises

  • Pushups are an excellent exercise to tone your chest muscles. However, for a well-rounded program to tone your pecs, include some flies, incline flies and presses, and decline flies and presses. There are exercise machines that will allow you to do many of these exercises. Better yet, do these exercises with free weights on a bench. Free weights will build more functional strength and work your stabilizer muscles because there is not a machine to hold you in place. To do incline and decline flies and presses, adjust an exercise bench up or down 45 degrees and perform the exercise that way. With incline and decline presses you'll lie on the bench with your upper body either up or down and then you'll press the weights to the ceiling like you would with a normal chest press. Same with flies. Allow the angle of the bench to create the emphasis on different parts of your pecs while still keeping your weights moving upward against gravity.

Ab Exercises

  • Men should make sure not simply to do crunches to work their rectus abdominus muscles (think six-pack) but also to do exercises for their obliques (love handles) and the deep transverse abdominus muscles. Some well-known exercises include crunches with rotation, corkscrews and long-lever crunches with a dumbbell. See the References section below for pictures if you are unfamiliar with these exercises. You will also work the transverse abdominus when you do pushups or leg lifts as they stabilize your torso.

Combination Exercises

  • There are ways to do chest exercises that tone the abdominals, as well. These may require more upper-body strength so they are better suited for men. Pushups using Olympic rings is an excellent example of an advanced chest and abdominal exercise. You can purchase a set of rings online or at a sporting goods store for around $100. By hanging them securely from your ceiling, you can lower them to various lengths to adjust the intensity of your exercise. You may begin with them 4 feet in the air and do incline pushups by holding the rings in your hands and leaning into them to do the pushups. The lower you make the rings the more challenging the exercise will be. You can also do pushups on a stability ball by putting either your ankles, toes or hands on the ball. This will work your abs as they struggle to stabilize your body on the ball. Using a ball under your shoulders with your feet on the floor to do dumbbell presses or flies instead of a bench will also tone your pecs and abs. You may wish to select a weight about 20 to 30% lighter than you would usually use for presses or flies. Another good exercise is a ball crunch with medicine ball chest press. You put a ball under your lower back with your feet on the floor and hold a medicine ball against your chest. A 10 lb. ball is probably good to start with. You crunch up and throw the ball two-handed like a press at a wall or a workout partner. Catch the ball and then crunch back down.

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