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11 Stretches and Mobility Exercises to Do before a Chest Workout

11 Stretches and Mobility Exercises to Do before a Chest Workout

If you’re a gym goer, I am sure you have seen someone who talks a lot and acts as if they know everything about exercise. In contrast, they are the ones who skip the most important part of the exercise: stretching and mobility exercise.

If you ask them why they don’t do stretching and mobility exercises, with a fake smile, they will say, “Your muscles will become longer if you stretch them,” which is not true.

Instead, the opposite is true. If you don’t stretch before exercising, your muscles shorten and become tight, making you unable to extend fully. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strain, and muscle damage.

Whether it’s a chest day, back day, or leg day, stretching and mobility exercises are important before any workout routine. It helps you get the most out of your workout, improves posture and flexibility, increases energy, and releases tension.

Today, we’ll dive into 11 essential stretches and mobility exercises designed to prepare your body for a chest workout.

Importance of Stretching and Mobility Exercises

Stretching and mobility exercises are fundamental components of a well-rounded fitness routine. For example, stretches before chest workout helps prepare your chest for heavy exercises.

 Not only the chest, but all body parts need stretching and mobility before they are put to work. Here's why incorporating stretch and mobility exercises into your daily regimen is crucial.

  1. Better Range of Motion

Range of motion refers to the ability to fully move body parts in their normal planes of motion. When you do mobility and stretching exercises, you put your joints, muscles, and connective tissue into motion. This helps you to do daily activities and exercise with ease.

If your range of motion is limited, you won’t be able to perform exercises correctly and efficiently, which in turn minimizes the effectiveness of your workouts. A better range of motion allows you to perform exercise in better form, which helps in targeting the right muscles and reduces the risk of injury.

  1. Prevent Injury

Do you know why most people get injured in a gym? The number one reason is not doing warm-up exercises. Stretching and mobility exercises are warm-up exercises that prepare your muscles and joints for different levels of physical stress, reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and other common injuries.

When you do the warm-up, you increase your body's elasticity, and the resilience of your muscle fibers, and your body becomes capable of handling different levels of stress without breaking down.

  1. Reduced Muscle Soreness

If you’re a gym goer, you know the level of muscle soreness you get on leg days. Doing some stretching exercises after the workouts can help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness by promoting blood flow and removing metabolic waste like lactic acid.

As a result, your recovery time will be shortened and you can return to your training session with the same level of energy again.

  1. Enhanced Mind-Body Connection

The mind-body connection is a term mostly used by pro bodybuilders. This means a relationship between your mental focus and awareness of your body movements, alignment, and the engagement of specific muscles while exercising.

Strong body-mind connection is important because it improves your exercise form and technique, enhances performance, and prevents injury.

Stretching and mobility exercise often requires you to have a high level of concentration and awareness of how your body moves. This can improve your overall body-mind connection when doing any form of exercise.

Best Stretches and Mobility Exercises before Chest Workout

Stretching and mobility exercises are not only important to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts, but they also affect many of your daily activities.

When you do the exercise, make sure to hold every post for two to three seconds, or one full breath. Then repeat for two or three reps before switching sides or moving on to the following pose. On the last rep, hold the final pose for 10 seconds to dial up the strength and stability gains.

Here are the 11 best stretches before chest workouts.

Exercise 1: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, is one of the easiest and most effective exercises. It helps to improve flexibility and range of motion by removing muscle tension, improving blood circulation, and breaking up adhesions and knots within the muscle fascia, improving the quality of the muscle tissue.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Do this exercise 5 to 10 minutes before and after the workout for the best results.
  2. Position a foam roller under your upper back while lying on the floor.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest and lift your hips slightly off the ground.
  4. Slowly roll from the upper to the mid-back area, pausing at points of tension.
  5. Repeat the process until you feel the tension relieved from your muscles.

Exercise 2: Chest Opener Stretch

This is one of the simplest yet most effective exercises for those who spend most of their time working at a desk. These stretches before chest workouts help open up the chest and shoulder, releasing tension and enhancing upper body flexibility.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Simply stand and clasp your hands behind your back.
  2. Lift your arms upward without bending at the waist.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds, go back to the starting point, and repeat the process.
  4. Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Exercise 3: Doorway Stretch

This is another simple yet effective stretch before chest workouts that you can do anywhere.

This stretch exercise is designed to particularly target your pectoral muscles (chest). It also helps improve shoulder mobility and upper body posture.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Stand in a doorway with your arms raised and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Place your forearms against the door frame.
  3. Step through the doorway until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold the position for a few seconds, then step back and relax.
  4. Do 3 sets of 7 repetitions.

Exercise 4: Arm Circles or Swings

Arm circles are mainly a shoulder joint mobility exercise, but also target other upper body muscles like the chest and lats. This exercise increases blood flow and helps maintain muscle balance, prevent injury, and improve overall upper-body exercise efficiency.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Extend your arms straight out to the side.
  2. Circle your arms slowly, starting with small circles and gradually increasing the diameter.
  3. Alternatively, swing your arms gently back and forth across your body.
  4. Do 15 circles or swings of 3 sets.

Exercise 5: Cat-Cow Pose

‌The Cat-Cow pose is a versatile and effective exercise for your overall upper body. This exercise is a form of yoga that helps mobilize the spine, activates the core muscles, and stretches the chest and abdomen. You can also do this yoga pose to relieve back and neck tension and to improve your posture.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Get on all fours.
  2. Arch your back towards the ceiling (Cat pose) and hold for 3 seconds.
  3. Dip your back towards the floor (Cow pose) and again hold for 3 seconds.  
  4. Do 3 sets of 7 repetitions.

Exercise 6: Standing Chest Stretch

This exercise is specially designed to target your chest. But it also helps with posture correction, alleviates tension and tightness, enhances shoulder mobility, and prepares your upper body for heavy workouts.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Stand near a wall and extend one arm, placing your palm on the wall.
  2. Keep your arm straight and turn your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch. Hold the position, then switch sides.
  3. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions for each side.

Exercise 7: Scapular Push-Ups

This exercise is a little different from the rest. It doesn’t target your chest, but your scapular muscles. Working out these muscles can help enhance the pushing movements in chest workouts, which is important for maintaining proper form and preventing injuries.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Start in a plank position.
  2. Keep your arms straight and retract and protract your shoulder blades without bending your elbows.
  3. Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 8: T-Spine Rotations

As the name suggests, this exercise targets your thoracic spine, which is located at your upper back. It also helps open your‌ chest, activates your upper back muscles, and improves your overall posture.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Position yourself in a quadruped position with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Place one hand on the back of your head.
  3. Rotate your upper body to open your elbow towards the ceiling, then down towards the opposite elbow.
  4. Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 9: Band Pull-Apart

This is a simple stretch before a chest workout that targets both your chest and shoulder mobility. The benefits of this exercise are that it helps strengthen your upper back, improve shoulder retraction, improve posture, and prepare your upper body for exercise.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Extend both your arms in front of you straight to your shoulder while holding a resistance band.
  2. Pull the band apart and bring it towards your chest.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position, controlling the release of your shoulder blades.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Exercise 10: Wall Slides

Wall slides might look too easy and simple to be an exercise, yet it’s one of the most effective exercises for reducing tightness in the chest. This simple-looking exercise also targets your shoulder, and upper back, and helps improve your posture.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Stand with your back against a wall, arms raised, elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Slowly slide your arms up the wall while keeping your back flat against the wall.
  3. Slide them back down.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 11: Dynamic Hug

As the name suggests, this exercise is as simple as hugging someone. Dynamic hug exercise activates your chest, increases blood flow, and improves shoulder joint mobility.

How to do the exercise?

  1. Mimic the motion of wrapping your arms around a large tree.
  2. Push back your chest. When doing so, you’ll feel tension in your shoulder.
  3. Alternate the overlap of your arms to engage both sides of the chest equally.
  4. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

How Much Stretches and Mobility Exercise Do You Need?

Think of stretch and mobility exercises as a jolt for your muscles. You should only wake them up, not fatigue them. So how much work you need to do depends on the intensity of your exercise.

If you’re a beginner who has led a sedentary lifestyle and suffers from muscle stiffness, you’ll want to spend more time on stretch and mobility exercises. If you’re a pro bodybuilder, you already know how much your body needs to stretch.

For beginners, our advice is to start with 5 minutes daily of mobility exercises. Then, once you feel comfortable, work up to 10 or 20 minutes to improve your movement patterns and decrease muscle stiffness.

Stretches and mobility exercises are not only good for chest and other body workouts but also for improving your overall quality of life.

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