Usually, for maximum weight-training results, you need to do fewer reps with heavier weights. But when it comes to toning your chest muscles, trainer John Platero, owner of Future Fit, a personal-training company in Culver City, Calif., suggests you use less weight and do more repetitions on some exercises to control range of motion and work all the muscle fibers while protecting the shoulder joint. This month's workout builds moderate strength and muscular endurance.
Women tend to have longer arms in relation to their torsos, says Platero. When the arm is outstretched, it's in its weakest position and if you lower a weight that's too heavy, gravity, rather than your muscles, controls the motion and can shear the shoulder joint.
Platero doesn't recommend doing flat-bench flys, a popular chest-strengthening exercise, since that can also place unnecessary strain on the shoulder. Instead, he suggests that women use the cable fly, which allows the pectoralis major to do what it's best qualified to do -- pull the arms toward the midline of the body.
The incline Smith bench press, the first exercise in this sequence, lets you use the most weight you can handle, since your body is supported by the bench and your shoulder is less vulnerable in a press than in a fly. The lying cable fly, the second move, reduces the amount of weight to isolate the muscles and prevent shoulder joint strain. Finally, the standing one-arm fly balances the strength in your chest and takes your muscles to fatigue.