A chest expander is a piece of exercise equipment that consists of a resistance band with handles on each side. Depending on the model of chest expander, the bands can be either springs or elastic rubber, with the level of resistance being different depending on the model of expander, just as dumbbells come in different weights. Although chest expanders alone cannot offer the full range of workouts that a complete gym or weight set would, there are still a multitude of exercises that can be accomplished with one.
One of the biggest positives of using chest expanders as part of your workout is the nearly limitless ways they can be used. Because they use bands that stretch and contract, you can achieve resistance at any range of motion. You are essentially limited only by the movements of your arms, whereas with traditional weights you have a smaller range of movements that can be performed while still offering some weighted resistance.
When using a chest expander, holding it at both handles enables you to add a resistance exercise to any standard stretching movement. You can experiment with adding this wrinkle to your common stretches to work the chest and back muscles.
Additionally, you can accomplish some traditional barbell exercises with the chest expander. For bicep curls, place one handle of the expander around your foot and step on it to hold it to the floor. Grasping the other handle, perform a standard curling exercise motion. Because chest expanders offer resistance both on the expansion and the contraction stage of the exercise, you're working the muscles not only when lifting up but also when lowering back down.
To work a wider variety of muscles at once, try a chest or a back pull. For the chest pull, hold the expander with both hands directly in front of you. Don't extend your arms all the way but keep them bent; otherwise, you'll be working the arm muscles almost entirely and not the chest as well. Now, pull both hands and arms apart from each other, as if you're trying to spread them away from your body. Try not to bring your arms in toward your chest as you do this. Instead, try to move straight outward and inward. Maintain a smooth and constant rate of motion. The exercise won't have the same affect if your movements are jerky or fast. Especially when moving your arms back toward your body, allow the resistance of the band to guide you but not entirely. Relaxing and allowing the band to snap back gives you only half the exercise. You need to slow the rate of the band's contraction and fight the resistance somewhat.
Shoulder and Back Exercises
To work the shoulders and back, repeat the chest exercise but this time do so with your hands above your head and the expander just behind it. Keep your arms extended for this version and bring your hands down as if you're trying to get your arms perpendicular to your body. Slowly raise them again and repeat to work the upper back and shoulder muscles as well as improve movement and strength in the rotator cuff.