For most guys, a chest workout involves alternating between three chest exercises: bench press completed in the flat, incline and decline positions. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are many options for chest exercises, including bodyweight staples and twists on dumbbell favorites. This makes it easy to build a strong pair of pecs. In fact, mixing up your workouts will mean you’re hitting you chest from more angles than the humble bench press, as good as it is, is capable of. This will give you a stronger upper body, which will make it easier to push heavy objects, from broken cars to barbells. We also know that a larger chest is a part of why you are reading this guide. This is a scientific fact. A study published in Plos One found that women’s, as well as men’s, perception of the ideal male body included a muscular, wide chest circumference that creates an overall V-shaped torso. To help you build a strong set of pecs, we have consulted experts in chest exercise, including Andrew Tracey (our fitness editor).You and your chest should feel prouder and taller by the end.
Major Chest Muscles, Explained
Major Pectoralis:Your chest muscle mass is dominated by the pectoralis major. It is fan-shaped and large. It is made up of sternocostal and aclavicular heads.
Pectoralis minor: The pectoralis minor is located underneath the pectoralis main. Its function is to pull the shoulder forward or down.
Serratus AnteriorThe serratus anterior is located at the sidewall of your chest wall. It’s activated when you lift weights above your head.
1. Barbell bench press
Place your feet on the bench, your back flat on it, and your head should be above the bar.With your palms facing forward, grasp the barbell with your thumbs wrapped around it. If necessary, help a spotter to move the bar into its starting position.Place the bar above your chin, or over your upper chest. Keep your elbows and wrists straight.Slowly inhale, and slowly lower the bar until it touches your chest just below your armpits. You can also flare your elbows slightly as you lower the bar.Next, inhale and push the bar up. Keep your wrists straight while keeping your back and shoulders neutral.
2. Pec deck
Refrain from adding weight. This could increase your injury risk. If you have suffered a shoulder injury, this exercise is not for you. These are the steps:
- Place your feet flat on a hard surface, with at least one shoulder width apart.
- Keep your back against the seat and raise your arms up until they reach shoulder height. The angle of your elbows should not exceed 75 to 90 degrees. Your elbows should be on the middle of the pad, on the wings of your machine.
- Smoothly and slowly push the wings together, stopping when they touch.
- Slowly reverse to the original position.
You can start this exercise with your feet together, or one foot in front of the other.
With your arms straight out, grasp the pulley handles and face inward. Make sure your hands are not below your shoulders and that your elbows are slightly bent.
Slow and controlled movements are important. No jerking, no swerving. To create a wider arc with more resistance, you can move your arms in a straight line.
Slowly bring your arms back to the original position. Keep your hands in control. Do not let your arms extend past your shoulders.
Place your knees slightly bent on the chest press bench and place your feet flat on the ground.Grab the handles and inhale while you push them away until they are straight out. Keep your elbows slightly bent.Inhale slowly, and then pull the bars towards you. Do not let the weights touch the ground.
4. Inclined dumbbell flies
Place a dumbbell in each of your hands and place them on a bench. Keep your feet on the ground.Your shoulders, back, head and buttocks should be pressed against the bench. Place the dumbbells close to your chest, armpits, and elbows. Keep your palms inward. Your wrists should be straight.Inhale and pull your abs in, then slowly press the dumbbells directly above your chest. Your arms should be at shoulder width. Your elbows should be straightened but not locked.Take a deep inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells until they touch your chest. Keep dumbbells parallel.”Fly” the dumbbells towards the ceiling in a gentle arc.
Grab the parallel dip bars with your hands and raise your body.
Keep your elbows straight and your head in line to your trunk. Your wrists should be in line with the forearms.
To stabilize your lower body, place one leg across the other and pull your abs in.
Inhale and bend your elbows so that your body is lower. Keep your elbows near your sides. To avoid swinging or tilting, your legs should be under your body.
Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and your arms parallel to the floor. Your shoulders and elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor.
You don’t have the time or equipment to go to the gym. It’s not a problem. You can do an ordinary pushup to activate your chest muscles at 61%. This is significantly lower than the bench press. However, pushups are convenient and offer triple the muscle-building benefits: They strengthen your chest and arms. You can get the most out of your pushups if you pay attention to your form.
- Keep your abdominals tight, align your spine with your spine and your back flat.
- Place your hands under your shoulders and slowly lower your body.
- Finally, press the up button.