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Best Chest Stretches For Tight Chest Muscles

Whether you’re an avid gym-goer or simply someone who works in front of a computer screen for 8+ hours a day, knowing the best chest stretches for tight chest muscles can benefit us all greatly.

Swimming, driving, office jobs and lifting all share one thing in common: the requirement of our arms and chest. The vast majority of activities and tasks we perform in life take place in front of us, and with that, it is common for the muscles located at the front, namely our chest region, to become shortened, tight and therefore limited.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how to stretch your chest muscles, join us as we discuss the best chest stretches for chest tightness, and help you identify what could be causing your discomfort to begin with.

Contents:

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What Are Chest Stretches?

Stretch chest exercises

While this may seem like a question that offers a very self-explanatory answer, it is important that we define what we mean by a chest stretch and where exactly these types of movements target. 

The reason these types of stretches are not only popular, but also important is because pectoral stretches work to lengthen the chest muscles, enabling for naturally better posture and movement. 

Contrary to popular belief, pectoral stretches are beneficial to all. Some women may associate exercises and movements that target the pec (short for pectoriali) region to be catered towards men due to its connotation links with large muscular men who make their chest dance. However, this is not the case.

The pec muscles are the two muscles positioned on the right and left sides of the body near the chest. The pec major attaches at the middle of the collarbone and follows down towards the midline of your body, into the breastbone/lower sternum area. The pec minor is even smaller, located underneath the pec major, attaching at the middle of the third, fourth and fifth ribs. 

The pec is an entire region of your body that is consistently working, as the majority of our movements use it. For instance, when doing things in front of our body, such as reaching, pushing or pulling, this draws on the pec major to do so; simple everyday tasks that we all engage in frequently.

With all this said and their importance stressed, it is also a muscle group that is prone to tightness, which is why chest stretches should not be overlooked. 

Chest stretches work to open and loosen our pectoral region, reducing tightness and as a result, promoting better body movements, better posture and even relieving upper back pain - but we’ll get on to the benefits of chest stretches later on.

So, what are the best chest stretches for tight chest muscles? Let’s take a look at 17 of our favourite, most effective options that can be performed pretty much anywhere; meaning there is no excuse for you not to try at least a few of them out! 

The 17 Best Chest Stretches For Tight Chest Muscles

Whether you’re looking for the best stretches for chest day, or simply some movements that you can perform on your lunch break in the office to loosen up your body, all the following stretches can be performed by anyone and offer beneficial effects no matter your level of activity. 

While most of these chest opener stretches can be done in any location, a couple of them will require a piece of equipment - though if you do not have the official item, you will likely have a household object that offers the same benefits. Read more in our article on how unusual household objects can form part of a balanced workout

So, let’s delve into the 17 best chest warm up stretches. 


#1 Above the Head Chest Stretch

The Above the Head Chest Stretch, while simply, is one of the most effective pulled chest muscle stretches that physios and medical experts recommend. Utilising three large muscle groups in the upper body, this is a highly effective movement and a must for those looking for stretches to open your chest.

Starting Position:

  • Begin by standing up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands behind your head, bending your elbows and interlocking your fingers.

Execution:

  • Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your elbows and hands backwards slightly.
  • Hold this stretch.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Posterior Deltoids, Serratus Anterior

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Pushing the arms too far back - Pushing the elbows and hands beyond your ability can lead to injuries including muscle tears. You can gradually build up your range of motion by performing this stretch regularly, but you should not rush the process and force yourself beyond what you’re comfortably capable of doing.
  • Bouncing the arms backwards - Bouncing during or at the end of this stretch can also cause the muscle and tendon to tear. By doing this, it can trigger a reaction within the muscle which prevents it from relaxing and instead having a counter-effect than desired. Thi should be performed as a hold onc you have pushed the elbows back to a position you’re comfortably stretched in.

#2 Bent Arm Wall Stretch

For many people, they refrain from stretching as they’re under the impression you require stretching aids, such as resistance bands, for them to be effective. However, that is not the case, and most stretch chest exercises, the most you require is a wall or floor. 

Starting Position:

  • Stand sideways by a wall, with your feet in a split stance position; the leg closest to the wall in front.
  • Bring your arm positioned next to the wall up to a 9 degree angle with your elbow at shoulder height. Position your palm and forearm against the wall.
  • Turn your face away from the wall looking over your other shoulder.

Execution:

  • Gently press into the arm placed on the wall.
  • Lift your chest outwards slightly to feel a deeper stretch in your pectoral.
  • Hold.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Incorrect Stance - To ensure you’re getting the most out of this stretch, ensure you stand with a split stance as opposed to with your feet together. This allows for a deeper stretch and your chest to open further.
  • Overstretching your neck - You do not need to push your neck and head for this stretch. Simply turn your attention over the shoulder furthest from the wall. Overstretching can lead to injuring your neck.

#3 Camel Pose

The Camel Pose is a great movement for those wondering how to stretch after workout. This popular yoga pose is now utilised across all forms of fitness, and it comes as no surprise due to the number of muscle groups this works simultaneously. 

Yoga's popularity has grown significantly over recent years, and with that has come a number of different styles for all ability levels. Want to read more about this? Check out our report on the types of different yoga styles which explores them in great detail.

Set Up: This chest muscle stretch is best performed on an exercise/yoga mat,

Starting Position:

  • Kneel on the exercise mat, with your feet flat, body upright and your hips stacked over your knees - you can place a folded blanket or fold your mat over to protect sensitive knees).
  • One hand at a time, slowly reach back and grasp the heel of your feet - if you need a little bit more height, you can tuck your toes under to lift).

Execution:

  • Once both hands are firmly grasping your heels, bring your hips forward so they are positioned over your knees.
  • Bring your head backwards slowly, opening your throat. If this is too uncomfortable, you can keep your chin tucked instead.
  • Ensure you are lifting your chest towards the ceiling and using your fully-extended arms to softly push the chest upwards and open the stretch further.
  • Hold this position.
  • Gradually return to the starting position by bringing your chin back into your chest, draw your hands into your hips to support your lower back as you slowly bring your body to the upright position.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Abdominals, Quadriceps

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Failing to keep your thighs upright - The primary mistake that can arise with the Camel Pose is not keeping your thighs upright throughout the stretch and instead allowing them to follow your chest backwards - resulting in a more slanted form. By allowing your thighs to fall backwards, it reduces and can even eliminate any benefit of the Camel Pose for your chest.


#4 Floor Angels

Ranked as one of the best chest stretch exercises for improving posture, Floor Angels work to loosen off the pectoral muscle fibres and reduce rounding of the shoulders - allowing for better every day posture.

Set Up: For this chest muscle stretch you will require an exercise/yoga blanket.

Starting Position:

  • Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart. All body parts should be resting firmly on the floor.
  • Position both arms flat on the floor to the side of you at a 90 degree angle with your palms facing upwards.

Execution:

  • Keeping your body firmly on the ground throughout, slowly raise your arms up over your head until they are fully extended. 
  • No hold is necessary for this stretch, slowly bring both arms back down to the 90 degree position.
  • Repeat this movement for 30 seconds or 10 times for as many sets necessary until you feel it has been effective.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Moving too quickly - A common error with dynamic chest stretches occurs with bouncing/moving too vigorously. Performing a stretch too quickly can lead to a pulled muscle as it can trigger the muscle to tighten to protect itself. To prevent this, gradually elongate into the stretch and bring the arms back down slowly and controlled. Head over to our report on the benefits of dynamic stretching to read more about how to do these stretches safetly.

#5 Pec Release

The Pec Release is a deep impact chest stretch exercise that is strongly recommended for those that really want to work on massaging the tightness in their chest. Providing a more intimate stretching method, this is a great option for those who require pulled chest muscle stretches. 

Set Up: You will need a small tennis ball-like for this chest stretch exercise.

Starting Position:

  • Position yourself standing just a few centimeters away from a wall, with your body facing towards the wall.
  • Place a small ball, a tennis ball is ideal, on your right pectoral muscle close to your armpit.
  • Bring your right arm up to the side of you at a 90 degree angle. Your hand should be roughly level with your head.

Execution:

  • Lean your right pectoral (chest muscle) into the ball.
  • Proceed to move your right arm in an upwards direction until it is straight in the air.
  • Move your arm back down to the right angle position.
  • Repeat this movement for 30 seconds, moving your arm back up reaching the ceiling and back down.
  • This should be a fairly quick flow with no pauses or holds.
  • Repeat the same sequence on the other pectoral muscle.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Pushing against the ball too hard - Similarly to other stretches, the pressure that you feel from the ball as it presses and massages your pectoral should feel slightly uncomfortable if you are particularly tight, however it should not be painful. If you feel any sharp pain or discomfort, try reducing the pressure you are applying when pressing against the ball/massage agent.

#6 Corner Chest Stretch

The Corner Chest Stretch has long been lauded by medical experts and physios as one of the best pulled chest muscles stretches. It allows for an adaptable and controlled stretch to help repair sore muscles without presenting risk of injury.

Starting Position:

  • Stand in the corner of a room and face the wall.
  • Place your forearms and palms on either side of the wall, approximately at shoulder level.
  • Your feet should be positioned roughly 1ft away from the corner.

Execution:

  • Keeping your forearms and palms firmly against the wall and your body straight, lean your body in towards the corner.
  • You should only lean until you can feel a stretch across your chest, but not so much that it is causing any pain or discomfort. 
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Move your arms further up the wall, keeping the same position of forearms and palms against the wall and repeat the lean and hold.
  • Bring your arms back down to the initial position at shoulder level and repeat.
  • Continue this sequence.

Duration: 30 - 40 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Bending at the backIt is important to keep your body in a straight line and engaged, preventing any bend along the chain. This can apply pressure to the wrong place, most notably, your lower back and could result in tweaking or injury.

#7 Doorway Pectoral Stretch 

Similarly to the last stretch, the Doorway Pectoral chest stretch exercise is achievable for anyone as no equipment is needed and you determine the pressure applied. Whether you’re someone with minimal range of motion or someone simply needing to loosen the muscles - this is perhaps the best chest stretch to perform anywhere. 

Starting Position:

  • Stand in the middle of an open doorway, feet side by side.
  • Raise each arm up to the sides, both bent at a 90-degree angle with your palms facing forward resting on the door frame.

Execution:

  • Slowly, step forward with one foot, placing it in front of the other, shifting your weight onto the front leg.
  • Lean forward slightly into the movement until you can feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
  • Be sure to stand upright, rather than diagonally leaning forward. The way placed on your front leg should provide a slight lean sufficient for the stretch.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position by stepping back and relaxing.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Duration: 20 - 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Leaning - While there should be a slight lean when you place your weight on the front leg, you should still sustain an upright position. Leaning your body forward can place stress and strain on your shoulder joints and result in soreness, injury or/and ineffective stretch.
  • Overstretching If you exert a lot of energy into this exercise, you can tear a muscle. Do not push yourself too hard and stay within your limits. It should not hurt while doing this exercise.


#8 Chest Opener

The Chest Opener stretch provides one of the most effective stretches to do before a chest workout. Solely targeting your pectorals, this movement is guaranteed to limber you up for Monday’s International Chest Day, so if you were wondering how to stretch your chest muscles for a big workout, we recommend starting her.e.

Starting Position:

  • Begin by standing up straight on a flat surface.
  • Straighten your arms and bring them up in front of you, forming a line from your shoulders and keeping your palms facing towards each other.

Execution:

  • Inhale and draw both of your arms out besides you and then backwards behind your body.
  • Lean into the stretch, squeezing your shoulder blades together and drawing your chest outwards.
  • Feel your chest open and hold this position. 
  • Take several deep breaths and then slowly return, bring your arms back in front of you with your palms facing each other.
  • Repeat this 5 times, or as many times needed until effective.

Duration: 3 - 5 Seconds per hold

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals 

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Overstretching - Over stretching a movement beyond your range of motion can lead to injury and even straining. If you begin to feel a pain, rather than a deep stretch, you should stop performing the Chest Opener stretch.

#9 Bosu Ball Chest Stretch

Looking for more advanced stretches for your chest muscles that will work your upper body simultaneously? Interested in adding equipment to your stretching sessions for variety? The Bosu Ball chest stretch exercise provides a challenging movement that is sure to open your chest and limber you up both pre and post workout.

Set Up: You will require a Bosu Ball for this chest stretch exercise.

Starting Position:

  • Begin by assuming a plank position on the floor, however place your right palm on the Bosu Ball, with the other firmly placed on the mat.
  • Your feet should be touching and your arms/hands at shoulder-width apart.
  • The Bosu Ball should be placed to the side of you, sitting just under your right shoulder blade.

Execution:

  • Lower down from the upright plank position into a low push-up hold. 
  • Hold the body just a few inches off the ground, keeping the elbows tucked in by the sides.
  • Maintain a tight body and keep the core engaged for the entire hold.
  • Hold this position.

Duration: 30 Seconds Each Arm

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Triceps and Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid

Form – Avoid allowing your back and glutes to sink inwards towards the floor, creating an arch in your back. For a secure plank position, your glutes should be tucked and tight and your back should be straight.

  • Ball size – If your stability ball is too big or too small, you may feel unbalanced, and not benefit fully from this chest opener stretch

#10 Bow Pose

Another popular yoga pose turned stretch chest exercises, the Bow Pose works to improve posture as well as strengthening the upper back, both of which have direct effects on how tight our chest muscles are. By improving both of these factors, you are directly improving the flexibility of your chest muscles and your overall health. 

For more information on how you can better your everyday mobility and range of motion, check out OriGym’s top tips to improve flexibility to learn more.

Set Up: It is best advised to perform this chest muscle stretch on a yoga/exercise mat.

Starting Position:

  • Lie flat on your stomach on your exercise mat, keeping your chin on the mat and your hands palm up at your sides.
  • Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your bottom as you comfortably can. Knees should be hip-width apart.

Execution:

  • Lift your hands and take hold of each ankle. Ensure to wrap fingers around the ankle rather than the top of your feet. Keep toes pointed 
  • Inhale, pressing your pubic bone down and drawing your lower belly in and up. Lift the heels away from the bottom while keeping ahold of your ankles.
  • Simultaneously, lift your chest, thighs and head away from the mat. Only your core should be touching the floor at this point.
  • While in the bow position, slide your shoulder blades down towards each other in order to open up your chest.
  • Looking straight ahead, hold the pose for approximately 20-30 seconds, putting focus on your breath, balance and stretch.
  • Exhale and release the psoe with control. Lowering your head, thighs, chest back towards the mat. Letting go of your ankles, allow your feet to return to the mat while you bring your hands back to your side.
  • Rest for a few seconds and repeat the pose until you deem the stretch has been effective.

Duration: 20 - 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

The entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat, and deep hip flexors (psoas).

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Incorrect grip - Where you position your hands for the bow pose is very important. You should be sure to grab your ankle and not the top of your feet; this is to prevent slipping that would likely occur when holding your feet.
  • Incorrect form - It is an important part of the Bow Pose to ensure that your knees remain hip-width apart. When the knees are positioned too close, this can lead to discomfort in the back while also opening up the hips incorrectly which can lead to straining.

#11 Walk Up the Wall

One for the slightly more advanced; the Walk Up the Wall is a challenging chest stretch exercise that not only opens up your chest improving your flexibility, but works on improving your strength also. We recommend going slow with this one, gradually perfecting it rather than jumping in at the deep end!

Though advanced, we would encourage everyone to work towards performing this movement; not only is it a great chest opener strecth, but it works a number of other muscle groups, including the triceps. If you'd like a guide dedicated solely to stretches that benefit your arms, OriGym’s full run down of the best arm stretches offers a multitude of options.

Set Up: For this stretch we recommend using an exercise mat as well as requiring a space with a wall.

Starting Position:

  • Position your exercise mat in front of a wall, facing vertical away from the wall, rather than horizontally against it.
  • Start by assembling a push-up position on your mat, with your hands at the top end of the mat that is furthest away from the wall.
  • Hands should be flat on the floor beside your shoulders, head down and your spine neutral.

Execution:

  • Extend your arms and press up into a plank position.
  • Walk your feet onto and then upwards on the wall, while simultaneously walking your hands back towards the wall.
  • Continue to walk up, one hand back at a time until you are in a complete handstand position - as flat to the wall as you can get. 
  • Keep your core engaged and tight and your back straight. 
  • Return by walking your hands away from the wall and bring your feet down gradually as you walk back out. 
  • Once returning to the press-up position, with your feet still against the wall, perform a press up and repeat the movement.
  • Reps are at your discretion.

Duration: Subjective to ability level

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Deltoids, Abdominals, Triceps, Pectorals

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Lack of control - It is important to maintain control throughout the entirety of this stretch. Keep your arms straight and avoid allowing the back to curve - failing to do so and moving too quickly could result in injury.
  • Attempting too many reps - It is preferred with this stretch to do fewer repetitions when you are new to it to ensure the reps you do complete are done so with proper form and full control. With practice, you can build up the reps you are able to complete with full control.



#12 Lying Pectoral Stretch

If you have ever been to an exercise class that has included a warm up and cool down, the chances are you’ve seen this chest muscle stretch before. Hailed as one of the best stretches to do before a chest workout, the Lying Pectoral chest stretch exercise works hard to limber up both your pecs and delts, allowing for an effective chest day!

Set Up: This stretch is best performed on an exercise/yoga mat.

Starting Position:

  • Lie flat on your stomach on your exercise mat,
  • Reach both of your arms out to the sides of you, creating a T shape with your body.
  • Bring your right hand into just beside your shoulder with your palm facing the floor - keep your left arm fully extended outwards.
  • Turn to face your right hand and bend your right leg slightly
  • Bend the opposing knee 

Execution:

  • Roll onto the left side of your body, using your right hand to push up and create the stretch.
  • Pause when you can feel the stretch in the right
  • Hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds. 
  • Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Duation: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid:

  • Pushing your body too much - Pushing the stretch up with your arm beyond your ability can cause a muscle to tear. You should feel slight discomfort during a stretch, but it should never be painful. If you still feel tight following the stretch, repeat the sequence multiple times remaining in your range of motion.

#13 Wall Angels

You may recall earlier when we looked at the floor angels, well it should come as no surprise that a Wall Angel is basically the same, but instead performed against a wall. This is perfect for those wanting to stretch their chest while in work and don’t quite fancy sprawling out on the floor - instead take a toilet break and voila!

Starting Position:

  • Position your body with your back and head firmly against a wall.
  • Stand with your feet roughly 30cm from the wall and your knees slightly bent.
  • Pull your shoulders down away from your ears and bring your arms up at a 90 degree angle at the side of your body - forming a W like position. 
  • Keep your head upright with your gaze ahead of you.

Execution:

  • With your elbows and wrists placed against the wall, slowly slide your arms over your head to form a Y position.
  • With control, slowly return to the starting position, bringing your arms back down, resuming the 90 degree angle with your elbows.
  • You should maintain contact with the wall with your back, head, elbows and hands throughout the entirety of the movement, whilst keeping the shoulder blades down.
  • Repeat.

Duration: 10 Reps

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Deltoids, Trapezius, Rhombus

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Arching Your Back - By arching your back, you are challenging spinal mobility which is the main purpose of the wall angel. If you can’t keep your lower back in contact with the wall, it means your body is compensating for limited T-spine mobility. Your lumbar spine extends and your core protrudes in an attempt to get your shoulders extended overhead. This compromises the integrity of your spine and, if you make this mistake often, you might inadvertently teach your body to reinforce this harmful movement pattern.
  • Protruding Your Neck - Without realising, many people protrude their necks when performing this stretch. This could simply be the result of straining to reach the overhead position - however it should be avoided. While it won’t necessarily injure you, it is best to keep your neck tucked in to maximise the benefits of the movement and promote good posture.
  • Rush the Movement - As the wall angel is among the few dynamic chest stretches exercises, it is most effective when it is performed slowly. This slow movement allows you to locate stiffer areas in your spine and therefore work on mobilising them.

#14 Double Arm Stretch For Chest

It’s upper body day at the gym and you need the best stretches for chest muscles before a workout. The Double Arm stretch for chest has you covered. Not only does this target your pectorals, but it also works to loosen your biceps and deltoids - working three of the primary muscle groups you require in one movement.

Starting Position:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Move both arms up in front of you, keeping arms straight and fully extended with your palms facing towards each other
  • Once your arms are extended fully in front of you at chest level, open both arms outwards until they are directly open at shoulder level with palms facing forwards.

Execution:

  • From the starting position, push both arms backwards, opening your chest until you feel a stretch in your chest and hold for a brief moment.
  • Release the stretch and move the fully extended arms back together until your palms are near-touching in front of you.
  • Once the hands come within an inch of each other, repeat the movement by moving the arms backwards again and opening the chest by extending your arms slightly behind you.
  • Repeat the cycle.

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Pectorals, Biceps and Deltoids

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Don’t overextend - When performing the open arm chest stretch, release all the tension from your body. Let your chest muscles relax before 

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Enjoying this exercise guide? We’ve got a few more we think you’ll find useful:


#15 Kneeling Chest Stretch

A great adaptable chest stretch exercise that can be performed by anybody looking to reap the benefits of chest stretches. The Kneeling Chest Stretch is a highly effective stretch that works not just one, but five different muscle groups! A great addition to your pre and post workout chest stretches.

Set Up: You will need a mat or ideally a comfortable surface for this stretch.

Starting Position:

  • Position yourself by kneeling on the mat, sitting on your heels.
  • Lean back, placing your palms flat on the floor should width apart.

Execution:

  • Begin by pressing your hands firmly into the ground to lift your chest higher, arching your back.
  • To further the stretch, allow your head to follow the movement, lowering it behind you and stretching through our throat and the front of your chest.
  • Hold the stretch. 

Duration: 30 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Deltoids, Pectorals, Rectus Abdominis

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Not aligning your neck correctly - By incorrectly placing your neck, this could be by either under or over extending; this can cause unwanted strain and in turn result in injury.

#16 Reverse Chest Stretch

Rounding up this list of the best stretches for chest muscles is the Reverse Chest Stretch, a simple yet effective stretch which can be incorporated into anyone’s routine no matter their location and schedule. Whatsmore, this chest stretch exercise also offers benefits to the triceps, latissimus and delts.  

If incorporating equipment into your stretching routines interests you, then our shortlist of the 13 best kettlebells for exercising is a must-read.

Set Up: You will require a chair or bench to perform this exercise

Starting Position:

  • Begin by facing away from the front of the chair and lowering into a dip position, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.
  • Position hands at the sides of the chair, palms should be faced down besides your hips, with fingers gripping the front of the seat.
  • Lower your body off the chair until your back is positioned in front of the seat or you feel a good stretch in your chest and biceps, your legs are bent and your elbows form a 90 degree angle.

Execution:

  • Once lowered into the dip, extend your posture by reaching your chest forward comfortably.
  • Ensure your head is kept upright, facing forward throughout the entire stretch. 
  • Hold this position for the duration of the stretch.
  • Remember to focus on your breathing throughout

Duration: 30 - 40 Seconds

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Triceps Brachii, Latissimus Dorsi, Anterior Delts and Pectoralis Major

Mistakes To Avoid:

  • Flaring the elbows - It is important you ensure elbows remain fixed in the 9 degree angle throughout the entirety of the exercise, with triceps fully engaged at all times. Failing to do this could shift the pressure onto your joints and other muscles and therefore remove any benefits this stretch has for your chest.
  • Applying pressure to the wrong place - A common error where people go wrong with this stretch is by pushing themselves up using their legs rather than the triceps. The Reverse Chest Stretch is specifically designed to open your chest and target your upper arms, if you use your legs to push yourself upwards, the stretch will be ineffective for the purpose you're using it.

#17 Chest Stretch With Resistance Band

Though this is the first chest stretch featured on this list that requied the addition of a resistance band, you can in fact implement this versatile piece of equipment into a number of the listed strecthes in order to deepen them - this may appear particuarly to those who have engaged in flexibility training for some time now. 

Not sure whether you would benefit from investing in resistance bands? Check out our complete guide to resistance training to find out why this is an essential item for everyone's gym kit.

Set Up: You will require a long resistance band for this chest stretch exercise.

Starting Position:

  • Stand upright with your feet positioned slightly apart.
  • Grab hold of each end of the band whilst holding your arms apart just above your groin.

Execution:

  • Create resistance by pulling each end of the band away from eachother, creating a downwards 'V' with your arms and ensuring they are kept locked straight at all times.
  • Move your arms upwards, maintaining the 'V' position with straight arms and keeping resistance by extending the band. 
  • Once your arms are reaching towards the ceiling, bring your arms and the band backwards behind your body and continue the movement of stretchig the band out and towards your glutes.
  • Once your arms have reassumed the 'V' position at the bottom of the back, bring the band back up towards the ceiling and back down in front of the body.
  • Continue this sequence,

Duration: 5 Reps

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit?

Deltoids, Pectorals and Rhomboids

Mistakes To Avoid:

  • Using a resistance band too heavy for you - It is important with this chest stretch that you are using a band that you can stretch comfortably within your range of motion. If you use a band too heavy, it will be difficult to control the movement and could lead to an injury when your arms are trying to move behind the back. The band acts as a form of resistance similarly to how weights do - read more in our thorough report on the difference between resistance bands and weights.
  • Bending the arms - Your arms should stay straight and locked throughout the entirety of this chest stertch exercise, failing to do so will likely remove all of the benefits that this stretch provides.

What Are The Benefits of Chest Stretches?

There are many benefits to performing chest stretches exercises consistently, many of which not only improve your athletic performance, but your quality of everyday life also:

#1 Improves Flexibility and Posture

How to stretch after workout

Deemed one of the best benefits of chest stretches is the ability to improve our flexibility and in turn, the posture we carry every day. Stretching offers one of the easiest ways in which we can improve our flexibility; through expanding and opening up the muscles, this encourages the chest, back and spine to elongate. 

While the process should be gradual, through training the muscles to fully elongate, this has a direct impact on amending posture, as it allows for more open stances, encouraging the chest to open and our shoulders to sit comfortably without rolling forwards. 

Chest stretches exercises are amongst the exercises that are recommended for those with back and spinal injuries and issues to help in the rehabilitation process. These stretches are designed to improve the flexibility for those injured which will in effect aid in the improvement of the posture - learn more about the benefits of good posture in OriGym’s comprehensive guide.

 

#2 Improves Range of Motion

Chest muscle stretch

As a consequence of the prior point, by improving our flexibility, this has a direct effect on the body’s range of motion, naturally increasing it. Without stretching, the muscles in our chest (and other body parts if you fail to stretch them also) shorten and become tight, then when the time arises where you require the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend to the capacity you would like.

Improving flexibility loosens the muscles, meaning that when we want to perform a movement, such as the Lying Pectoral Stretch, our bodys are able to rotate more and our arm is able to fully extend without causing pain - this showcases a good range of motion. 

The tighter our chest muscles, the more restricted our range of motion is. A great way to improve your range of motion is through the practice of regular yoga; if this interests you, check out our comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of yoga.

 

#3 Promotes Better Circulation 

Best chest stretch

While this may seem slightly more scientific, the logic is fairly simple; chest stretches help increase our blood flow around the body, which boosts oxygen levels and helps deliver nutrients around this body - therefore, promoting a better circulation. 

Stretching works to improve circulation by gently pulling and tugging on the muscle and connective tissue, infusing them with a conscious breath. The combination of breathing with the gentle pulling helps to create fluid homeostasis in the body - this is the term given to keeping the concentration of the fluids in the body from changing, also known as fluid balance. This supports the health of both the heart and kidneys. 

With a better circulation comes a better recovery following workouts and shorter recovery periods between workouts.  This benefit also offers a positive effect on our mood, as with boosted blood flow and circulation, it means more oxygen is being transmitted to our brains which allows for a clearer mind and positive mood.

 

#4 Builds Strength

Stretch chest muscles

The benefits chest stretches have for building strength come as a result of the aforementioned benefits in this list. Stretching, as we know, lengthens muscle tissue and increases flexibility, these two elements combined enable you to gain a better range of motion. With a better range of motion, it means that when you are performing strength building exercises, they are much more effective on the body, targeting every area to its fullest potential. 

Of course, the more we perform strength building exercises and workouts, the stronger we become. Additionally, when we engage in strength training, we create tiny tears in the muscles and lactic acid builds up. When we stretch post-workout (which is equally as important as pre-workout), it assists the body in circulating fresh blood and carrying nutrients to those muscles which require it. 

This promotes a shorter recovery time, reducing post-workout soreness and allowing you to get back to the gym sooner - therefore building more muscle.

Stretching's role in building strength sound too good to be true? There is a reason regular yoga practioners are able to perform gravity-defying moves! Read more about the correlation between strength and power yoga here.

#5 Reduces the Risk of Injury

How to stretch your chest

As with any form of stretching, chest stretches exercises reduce the risk of muscle strain or injury during a workout as it encourages the muscle group to be more flexible and supple and more prepared to take on the taxing effects of a workout of any capacity.

By increasing the flexibility of the body, it allows you to withstand more physical stress and demands, such as working out for longer periods of time and pushing yourself that little bit further. Chest stretches (and other types of resistance training) benefits the muscles by helping them become more balanced, which in itself can prevent serious injuries by equally sharing pressure put on the body, rather than one specific area taking on the majority of the weight.

You should never jump straight into  a workout without stretching and warming up as it doesn’t give the muscles and joints time to wake up and prepare, which significantly increases the risk of pulling a muscle or twisting a joint. dynamic chest stretches work to boost our circulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Chest Muscles Get Tight?

Stretches to do before chest workout

It is important to note that chest tightness is a common occurrence that can be a symptom of a number of conditions or reasonings. 

As we addressed earlier in the article, the pectoralis is the entire chest region of our body, a region in which we draw on for many of our daily functions; from pushing and polling to driving and typing on a computer. 

Tight chest muscles are common in those who sit for long periods of time, or in jobs that cause rounded shoulders (such as office work or painting). Rounded shoulders become a natural instinct as it is the most comfortable position when our front chest muscles are tight, however the more we succumb to this poor posture, the more damaging this is to our pectorals as the chest muscles have to help support an overloaded rib cage from the front.

Tight pectoral muscles can also occur in those who engage in a large amount of upper body exercises, such as chest and bench press, which are not equally counterbalanced with other forms of exercise.

While tight chest muscles are very common, you should be aware that in some occasions chest tightness cold be an indication of the following:

  • Diseases that affect internal organs within the chest cavity (heart, lungs, stomach, gallbladder, esophagus, liver and pancreas).
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Abnormalities of muscle, bone, cartilage and skin

In scenarios where your chest tightness progresses onto more feelings of pain (both sharp or prolonged), or if you’re having issues with breathing, we advise you seek medical attention as this could be something more severe. Otherwise, these issues can be mitigated through the consistent practice of chest stretches exercises.

What to Do if You Pull a Muscle in Your Chest

Stretches for your chest

Though we hope that this article significantly reduces the chance of you ever having to face the situation where you pull a muscle in your chest, it is always best to be prepared if the situation were to arise. 

Most cases of a mild strained or pulled chest can be treated at home with a lot of rest and using the RICE method. Let us break it down for you:

  • Rest - First and foremost, you must subject yourself to rest as soon as you notice pain. The duration of this will vary from case to case, but typically, you can look to resume light activity (walking) two days after injury - though this should be stopped immediately if the pain returns.
  • Ice - Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minute periods up to three times a day.
  • Compression - It is advised to wrap any inflamed areas up with an elastic bandage, however avoid doing so too tightly as this could affect your circulation.
  • Elevation - You should keep your chest elevated at all times, particularly at night. You may want to consider sleeping in a recliner chair if possible.

The symptoms caused from mild pulls should subside in a matter of weeks. You’re encouraged to take painkillers to reduce your discomfort during this time; you can even combine painkillers with a muscle relaxant gel. We recommend investing in one from out Best Muscle Rubs shortlist, which have been carefully selected based on effectiveness.

In more chronic conditions where your pain feels more intense than mild, you may benefit from seeking physical therapy and/or exercises that can help correct muscle imbalances that contribute to strain. 

And in more severe cases, surgery may be needed in order to repair torn muscles.

Before You Go!

Our chest muscles are put through a great deal of pressure every single day, so it’s inevitable that at one point or another, we’ll all experience chest tightness. For this reason, it is important that we know what to do in times where we’re particularly sensitive, and even to help prevent this occurring at all.

Identifying the perfect sequence of the best chest stretches for tight chest muscles that work for you can make a huge difference, not only to your workouts, but your overall quality of life. 

Once perfecting your sequence, you may even feel confident enough to share your knowledge and expertise with others in similar positions. If that is the case, then a career in fitness - massage therapy particularly - could be your calling.

Here at OriGym, we offer an internationally leading Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course, whether you’re looking for a new career or to expand your existing opportunities within the fitness industry. Why not enquire today and start the rest of your life?

Alternatively, you can download our full comprehensive prospectus today, and learn more about the packages and courses we have on offer.

Written by Annie Williams

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Annie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Graduating from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Annie specialises in mental and physical wellbeing, with a specific interest in nutrition and mindfulness. Her long standing interest in fitness is what brought her to OriGym, and led her to become a qualified Personal Trainer and obtain specialist qualifications in Advanced Sports Nutrition. Annie’s primary professional attraction lies in following and tracking the ever-changing trends in the fitness industry. Beyond OriGym, Annie divides her time between personal writing, her passion for the countryside and mountain walking, and charitable runs.

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