Chest training is a highlight in most lifters’ routines. Some people look forward to the day they can lift heavy weights on the bench press, while others find that they get a better pump with more immediate, though temporary, results.
The type of exercise you choose can have a major impact on your results, especially when you’re working on your chest. There are many myths about how to target different parts of the chest, how much weight to lift, and how much stress to put on shoulder and elbow joints. Many lifters are lucky to have a well-designed program that takes these myths into account. If you rely on luck too much, it will eventually run out. If you are looking for the best chest exercises to add to your workout routine, look no further. We have compiled a list of 12 great options for you to choose from.
The Chest-Building Exercises
But that doesn’t mean you should ditch all your pressing work altogether. Just because we talked about branching out beyond the bench press doesn’t mean we should get rid of all pressing work. If you want to be serious about training, you can’t avoid exercise. Even if you just go to a strength facility, you will encounter it. The move is standard for a reason: it works. Let’s break it down with dumbbells for some variety.
This hypertrophy method means you’re more focused on building muscle than pressing max weight. To do it, keep your butt on the bench, with your feet flat on the floor and your glutes and core engaged. When you are lying on the bench, you should push your shoulder blades down into it.
Lift your dumbbells up, squeezing the handles tightly. When you are lying on the bench with your back, do not just hold the weights with your elbows parallel to your shoulders. You should keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to help protect your shoulders. Push your chest up to lift the weight, then lower it in a controlled way back to your chest. Drive back up to hit another rep.
One of the best exercises for your chest is the chest fly. By creating tension through the movement, you’ll work your chest muscles effectively. Your goal is to squeeze, not flap your arms like a bird to take flight, as the name suggests. This means that you will use less weight than you might expect.
Lie down on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep the weights above your chest, without letting them touch, and with your pinkies turned in slightly. Maintain full body tension on the bench.
Start by lowering your arms down to your sides, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Only go as deep as your shoulder mobility allows. To do this exercise, squeeze your shoulder blades together to lift the weight back up to the starting position. Make sure to really squeeze your chest at the top.
You have likely done pushups many times before, and if you want a varied workout, you should continue to do them frequently. There is no more basic exercise to train your chest than making sure you are doing them properly.
Get into a position where you are leaning on your hands with your feet close together while keeping your spine straight. To keep your neck in a neutral position, keep your gaze down.
Press your chest down to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your torso. Do not flare them out. Push off the ground with your feet to jump straight up, extending your elbows to the top position.
Dumbbell Floor Press
No bench? No problem. Doing a dumbbell press on the floor is a good way to avoid injuring your shoulders. This is a great option for working out your chest at home, all you need are some weights and a bit of space.
Lie on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. Flat feet on the floor, drive with your heels and squeeze your glutes. To keep your shoulders safe, keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle relative to your torso.
Squeeze your chest at the top position when you press the dumbbells up. Begin by lowering your back slowly and under control. Your elbows should rest briefly on the ground.
Band Chest Fly
The band chest fly is a great try for a warmup before a chest workout or for a killer burnout to finish one. The band fly is similar to the cable fly and the dumbbell fly, but it is more accessible because it uses exercise bands. This makes it another exercise that you can potentially do at home. Curtis Shannon, an athlete performance and development specialist, says that this exercise is very effective in increasing muscle size and endurance, while not putting a lot of stress on the shoulder joints like a chest fly with a dumbbell would.
“I like programming it as an accessory, warmup/priming, filler, or finisher lift. It can also be programmed with global lower and upper-body pull exercises, such as a deadlift or bent-over row. Or simply use it as a “beach day” workout exercise that focuses on high volume for that “pump”.”
Step back and assume a split squat stance, your feet staggered and the back knee bent 90 degrees. From a split squat stance with your feet staggered and the back knee bent 90 degrees, attach two bands to a stable base, like a power rack or tower. Wrap the bands around your palms, holding each end in a different hand. Stand in the middle of the station with one foot in front of the other. Your arms should be outstretched but slightly bent. Bend forward at your hips, and make sure not to round your back.
Keeping your arms bent, bring your hands together. Slowly reverse the movement, keeping the bands controlled.
T-Bench Glute Bridge Fly
To work your chest muscles without injuring your shoulders, start by doing a bench fly. Then, add an idea from the floor press to complete the exercise. Since the position is difficult to hold, this will also challenge your glutes and abs.
Sit on the edge of a weight bench with the dumbbells on your lap. Put your feet up on the bench with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the barbell and arch your back slightly. Tighten your glutes and abs to form a bridge, with your feet planted on the ground and your shoulders “set” on the bench.
Extend your arms out to the sides, lowering your elbows to the bench to form the shape of the letter T. The eccentric, or lowering, portion of the movement should be the focus and should take 3 to 4 seconds. To complete the move, squeeze your chest to raise the weights back up to the starting position.
To get the most benefits from this movement, spend more time at the bottom. Start with light weights and get used to the move by alternating between overhand and neutral grips.
Sit on an incline bench with dumbbells in each hand to perform this exercise. Begin by holding the weights at your pecs, as if you were getting ready to press them. Keep your chest strong and your lower back naturally arched.
Extend your arms out to each side, keeping your chest strong. Put your arms out in front of you and pause for a count of three, stretching your muscles.
Half-Kneeling Chest Press
Take a knee for some chest gains. The half-kneeling chest press is a great way to work on your core muscles while also being off-balance. This makes the exercise more realistic and offers even more benefits. We don’t have this perfect balance of work and life.” The speaker is saying that, in the real world, we don’t have an equal balance of work and life. Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S, Men’s Health fitness director, said that they are a little bit off balance. “This puts you in an off-balance position.”
To do this exercise, kneel on one leg with the other leg forward, in front of a cable machine setup. With the knee that is touching the ground, also touch the ground with the hand on the same side. Holding your stomach in and your up-leg straight, press the cable forward in front of your chest. As you return to the starting position, avoid turning the cable by squeezing your core and stabilizing your hip against the ground.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
This is a chest and shoulder exercise that targets the pectoralis major (upper chest), clavicular, coastal, and sternal head, along with the anterior deltoids, triceps, biceps, and serratus anterior.
“This is a great exercise to implement into your program, giving your upper body push routine some variety,” Shannon says. “The mechanical load and position on the incline bench press provide a greater challenge than the flat or decline bench. This will essentially allow you to get a greater adaptational response with less weight than with the flat bench press. I personally feel more muscle in the chest and less stress in the shoulder joint when I perform this exercise, in comparison to the flat bench.”
Shannon suggests that this should be a primary or accessory lift. The level of intensity, amount of load, and volume all contribute to deciding the prescription.
Lie on a bench and set the backrest at a 45-degree incline. Hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight and your palms turned toward your feet, which should be planted on the floor. Make sure to keep your core tight so that your back is straight and your butt is glued to the seat. This will help you avoid any injuries.
Press the dumbbells up, directly above the shoulders. Some people in gyms might be seen knocking the weights together at the top, but there is no need to do that here. Hold the dumbbells at chest level, then press them back up for the next rep. Don’t worry about how deep you lower them.
Flat Barbell Bench Press
If you come across a list of the “best chest exercises” and don’t see the classic bench press, you might be inclined to close the page and move on. One of the original three powerlifting moves, this move is also a go-to for bodybuilders.
The bench press is a versatile exercise that can help you build strength and muscle size. It’s an important part of many chest-building workouts. The way you perform an exercise can either emphasize size or strength, so it’s important to know your goals for the exercise before you start.
How to Do the Flat Barbell Bench Press
Assuming you are facing the bench, lay down on the bench with your feet flat on the ground and your head facing the bench. While performing the exercise, your glutes and shoulders should remain on the bench. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back. To use the pec muscles most effectively, grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. A closer grip on the dumbbells will cause you to use your triceps more than your pecs.
To exercise your shoulders, slightly bend your elbows and pinch your shoulder blades together while staying on the bench. Extend your arms to raise the barbell from over your face to above your upper chest. To do a low bar squat, lower the bar to mid-chest level while keeping your elbows at an angle between your feet and shoulders. Briefly pause in the bottom position before pressing up. When the bar is locked out, it should be positioned above your upper chest or neck.
The guillotine press, which sounds intimidating, was popularized by bodybuilding coach Vince Gironda in the 1960s. The flat barbell bench press is a popular exercise for targeting the chest muscles, and this variation puts even more emphasis on those muscles.
This means that muscles are under more stress, which in turn means that less weight can be lifted in order to see results. The guillotine should be performed with a lightweight to avoid joint strain. The exercise can be a great addition to a workout routine designed to build chest muscles, but lifters who have shoulder issues may have difficulty performing it correctly.
How to Do the Guillotine Press
Place your hand’s palm down on the bench next to your hips. Position yourself on a flat bench with your feet on the ground and your hand’s palm down on the bench next to your hips. Keep your glutes and shoulders touching the bench. Pull your abs toward your spine to flatten your lower back into the bench. Make sure to grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing down. Unrack the bar by pressing upwards with your arms, and pull the bar to a position above your neck.
Keep your elbows pointed out to the side as you lower the bar. This will result in a drastic increase in the stretch of the chest muscles. Keeping the bar in line with your neck, lower it as far as possible. Press upwards immediately after reaching maximum stretch.
The barbell pullover is an exercise that has been around for a long time, with weightlifters in the late-1800s advocating for it. It’s also one of the most confusing exercises. The pullover is a chest exercise or a back exercise that is constantly being debated.
Although the pullover works both the chest and back muscles simultaneously, there is a wealth of evidence from both scientific studies and experienced lifters that supports the pullover as an excellent chest exercise. If you feel like your lats are doing most of the work during the exercise and your pecs aren’t being activated, try doing the exercise at the end of your chest workout when your pecs are already tired.
How to Do the Barbell Pullover
Get a small barbell with an overhand grip and hold it slightly closer to your shoulder than shoulder-width. Sit on a bench and place the barbell across your legs. Starting with the weight over your face, straighten your arms and “kick” the weight into position. Plant your feet securely on the ground.
Keep your glutes on the bench. Slowly lower the weight towards your head, stopping when your arms are nearly in line with the bench. End the stretch by slowly returning to the starting position. Keep your elbows slightly bent during each repetition, and don’t bend them actively to lower the weight.