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The 12 Finest Chest Workouts for Larger, Stronger Pecs

The 12 Finest Chest Workouts for Larger, Stronger Pecs

The 12 Best Chest Exercises for Bigger, Stronger Pecs

Chest coaching is a spotlight in most lifters’ routines. It’s both the day they get to throw round huge weight on the bench or the day they get a wonderful pump with rapid (nonetheless momentary) outcomes.

Train selection can dramatically affect general outcomes, particularly in the case of coaching the chest. Between myths about “concentrating on” completely different components of the chest, coaching too heavy, or over-stressing shoulder and elbow joints greater than pectoral muscle tissues, many lifters are fortunate to finish up with a well-designed program. Nonetheless, luck has a means of evaporating once you lean on it too typically. Under, we listing 12 of the very best chest workouts to construct your chest program round.

Finest Chest Workouts

Flat Barbell Bench Press

Should you’re studying an inventory of the “finest chest workouts” and don’t see the traditional bench press, your intuition is perhaps to shut the web page and transfer on. This founding member of the massive three powerlifts can be a time-tested bodybuilding staple.

The flexibility of the bench press, which makes it well-suited to constructing power in addition to muscle dimension, makes it a key participant in lots of chest-building exercises. Very minor method changes can shift the emphasis in the direction of dimension or power, so it’s vital to know the way and why you’re performing the train to get most outcomes.

Find out how to Do the Flat Barbell Bench Press

Lie on a bench along with your toes flat on the bottom. Your glutes and shoulders ought to by no means go away the bench in the course of the train. Preserve a slight arch in your decrease again. For optimum recruitment of the pec (chest) muscle tissues, seize the bar with an overhand grip barely wider than shoulder-width. A better grip de-emphasizes the pecs and as a substitute prioritizes the triceps. (1)

Together with your elbows barely bent, pinch your shoulder blades collectively whereas staying on the bench. Straighten your arms to unrack the barbell and “pull” the load from over your face to above your higher chest. Decrease the bar to mid-chest degree whereas aiming your elbows at an angle between your toes and shoulders. Briefly pause within the backside place earlier than urgent up. Within the locked out place, the bar ought to be above your higher chest or neck.

Advantages of the Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • It trains the chest by way of an entire vary of movement, with help from the shoulders and triceps, making it an environment friendly higher physique train.
  • It’s sport-specific for aggressive powerlifters and has carryover to any athletes (particularly these in touch sports activities) who can profit from higher physique urgent energy.
  • You possibly can load the barbell with a big quantity of weight relative to different chest workouts, making it appropriate for very long-term progress.

Guillotine Press

The intimidating-sounding guillotine press (typically referred to as a “neck press”) was popularized by bodybuilding coach Vince Gironda within the Nineteen Sixties. It applies particular method changes to the usual flat barbell bench press to position much more muscular stress on the pecs.

This elevated muscular stress means much less weight can ship extra outcomes. In truth, the guillotine shouldn’t be carried out with heavy weight, since it will result in extreme joint pressure. It may be a wonderful addition to a chest-building exercise, however lifters with pre-existing shoulder points could have bother performing the train correctly.

Find out how to Do the Guillotine Press

Lie on a flat bench along with your toes flat on the bottom. Hold your glutes and shoulders touching the bench. Flex your abs to flatten your decrease again into the bench. Seize the bar with an overhand grip, practically as vast as attainable. Unrack the bar by urgent upwards, and pull the bar to a place above your neck.

As you decrease the bar, preserve your elbows pointed instantly out to every facet. This can drastically improve the stretch on the chest muscle tissues. Hold the bar in keeping with your neck as you decrease it so far as attainable. Press upwards instantly after reaching most stretch.

Advantages of the Guillotine Press

  • Targets the chest with out the necessity for comparatively extreme weight, decreasing put on and tear on the joints.
  • Emphasizes the chest whereas minimizing recruitment of the triceps and shoulders.

Barbell Pullover

The barbell pullover is without doubt one of the oldest workouts a lifter can do, with weightlifters within the late-1800s advocating the train. It’s additionally some of the complicated workouts. Hardly ever do lifters argue over which muscle tissues are skilled by a selected train, as a result of there’s nearly all the time a clear-cut reply, however the pullover is consistently on the middle of an ongoing “chest train or again train” debate.

The pullover truly works each the chest and lats (again muscle) on the identical time, however many research, together with many anecdotal experiences from lifters over the a long time, help the pullover as a really efficient chest train. (2)(3) In case your lats “take over” in the course of the train and you can’t really feel your pecs working, carry out the train on the finish of your chest exercise when the pecs are pre-fatigued. (4)

Find out how to Do the Barbell Pullover

Maintain a small barbell with an overhand grip barely nearer than shoulder-width. Sit on a bench and relaxation the bar throughout your legs. As you lie flat onto the bench, “kick” the load right into a place over your face and straighten your arms. Plant your toes securely on the bottom.

Hold your glutes on the bench. Decrease the load in the direction of your head, descending practically in keeping with the bench in case your shoulder mobility permits. Pause very briefly within the stretched place earlier than pulling again to the beginning place. Preserve a barely bent elbow place throughout every rep and don’t actively bend on the elbows to decrease the load.

Advantages of the Barbell Pullover

  • Targets the chest, lats, and shoulder muscle tissues.
  • Emphasizes the chest with restricted triceps recruitment.
  • The pullover is an efficient stretch for the lats, in addition to the shoulders, and may enhance shoulder mobility over time.

Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Chest coaching typically incorporates a wide range of angles to optimally tackle each the “higher chest” (clavicular head of the pecs) and the “mid or decrease chest” (sternocostal head of the pecs). These completely different components of the chest muscle can be extra totally addressed in a later part.

Inclined chest workouts will goal the higher pecs. Nonetheless, a comparatively low angle is good as a result of an excessively inclined angle (extra vertical than horizontal) will scale back chest activation and improve shoulder activation. (5) Dumbbells enable a deeper stretched place and/or extra vary of movement at lockout, in comparison with a barbell.

Find out how to Do the Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Set an adjustable bench to a low incline — the second gap on an adjustable bench or place two bumper plates underneath one finish of a flat bench. Seize a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “kicking” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest.

Angle your arms barely in the direction of your toes by rotating your wrists outwards. Neither your palms nor your thumbs ought to be instantly pointed in the direction of one another. Preserve this hand place all through every rep. Decrease the weights underneath management, reaching a stretched place with the weights close to your chest. Press upwards, bringing the weights shut collectively within the prime place.

Advantages of the Low Incline Dumbbell Press

  • The incline angle optimizes higher chest recruitment with out extreme shoulder activation.
  • Train selection (incorporating angles and completely different implements) has been proven to enhance coaching outcomes. (6)
  • Dumbbells enable extra freedom for the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joint in comparison with a barbell, making the train much less irritating to the joints.

Decline Dumbbell Press

Decline bench press variations are sometimes believed to emphasise the “decrease pecs” as a result of arm place. Nonetheless, the “decrease pecs” aren’t one separate muscle, they’re solely a part of the bigger pectoral (chest) muscle.

A decline angle has been proven to activate the chest comparably to the flat bench press, whereas recruiting much less shoulder muscle, so decline urgent is a superb choice for lifters with shoulder ache (7) Utilizing dumbbells as a substitute of a barbell additionally permits a higher vary of movement which might translate to a higher muscle-building stimulus.

Find out how to Do the Decline Dumbbell Press

Modify a flat bench to raise your hips above your head. Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “pulling” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest. Make sure you hook the bench with the again of your knees to forestall your physique from sliding downwards.

Angle your arms barely in the direction of your toes by rotating your wrists outwards. Preserve this diagonal hand place for every rep. Your elbows ought to keep a slight angle between your shoulders and toes. Pause briefly within the stretched place earlier than urgent to the place to begin. On the final rep of any set, decrease the weights into the stretched place and carry out a “curl” by bending on the elbows to decrease them to the ground earlier than getting up from the bench.

Advantages of the Decline Dumbbell Press

  • Dumbbells scale back joint pressure by permitting extra individualized motion of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • The decline angle trains the chest with restricted shoulder stress.

Decline Dumbbell Flye

The dumbbell flye is an efficient isolation (single-joint) train to activate solely the chest muscle with minimized involvement of the shoulders and triceps, in comparison with compound (multi-joint) bench press variations which recruit all three muscle tissues. This makes it a wonderful addition to any exercise targeted particularly on coaching the chest.


The decline place takes benefit of gravity within the locked out place for elevated muscular pressure. On a flat bench, the weights provide restricted resistance on the prime. With a decline bench, the muscle tissues are extra extremely activated to help the load.

Find out how to Do the Decline Dumbbell Flye

Set an adjustable bench to a slight decline angle. Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with the weights resting in your legs. Lie again onto the bench whereas “pulling” the weights right into a straight-arm locked out place above your chest. Make sure you hook the bench with the again of your knees to forestall your physique from sliding downwards.

Preserve a slight bend in your elbows all through the train. Start along with your palms dealing with one another. Decrease the weights in the direction of the bottom whereas maintaining your arms in keeping with your elbows. Don’t enable the weights to rotate your arms in the direction of your head. Within the backside place, the weights ought to be close to chest-level. Contract your chest to “pull” your arms again to the beginning place.

Advantages of the Decline Dumbbell Flye

  • Isolates and emphasizes the chest with restricted activation of the shoulders and triceps.
  • Decreased shoulder joint pressure in comparison with urgent.


The dip, together with the pull-up, have each been referred to as “the higher physique squat” due to their potential for constructing dimension and power. Makes you assume {that a} program targeted on squats, dips, and pull-ups can be nice for including a bunch of muscle and getting actually sturdy, proper? Yep, proper.


Dips, particularly, are a wonderful method to goal the chest, shoulders, and triceps utilizing solely your body weight, making it supreme for lifters with restricted gear. It really works the muscle by way of an extended vary of movement and has the potential for including important weight by utilizing a weighted vest, dip belt, or dumbbell held with the legs.

Find out how to Do the Dip

Start on the prime place on a set of dip bars along with your arms locked out. To make sure optimum chest recruitment, lean your higher physique ahead in the course of the motion. Retaining an upright torso will scale back chest exercise and improve concentrate on the triceps.

Bend your arms to decrease your physique so far as your shoulder mobility permits. Pause briefly within the stretched place to additional improve muscular stress earlier than urgent as much as lockout.

Advantages of the Dip

  • The body weight train could be carried out with minimal gear.
  • Assesses and builds shoulder mobility in the course of the train.
  • Body weight workouts are sometimes seen as extra “useful” than utilizing free weights or machines, contributing to total-body efficiency and joint well being. (8)

Sliding Push-Up

The essential push-up could be an efficient introductory train for brand new lifters, however it may be troublesome to progressively overload. Reasonably than including weight, particular push-up variations can present an efficient coaching stimulus for continued dimension and power.

The sliding push-up is a sophisticated variation which permits the pec muscle tissues to work by way of an especially lengthy vary of movement, shifting the arms inwards in the course of the train slightly than remaining static. This inward movement has been proven to considerably improve muscle activation within the chest. (9)

Find out how to Do the Sliding Push-Up

Take a pair of furnishings sliders, or towels on a tile or wooden ground, and arrange in a push-up place along with your arms on the sliders and practically touching one another. Preserve a straight line out of your heels to your neck.

Decrease your physique underneath management till your chest nearly touches the bottom whereas permitting your arms to “slide” outwards. Within the backside place, your arms ought to be properly past shoulder-width. Whereas urgent upwards, pull your arms collectively till they practically meet within the beginning place.

Advantages of the Sliding Push-Up

  • Elevated chest activation in comparison with primary push-ups.
  • Permits intense coaching with restricted gear.
  • Push-up variations prepare stomach and whole core stability whereas additionally concentrating on the chest.

Hand-Launch Push-Up

The hand-release push-up was popularized by CrossFit as a method to obtain constant, unquestionable depth throughout high-repetition push-ups.

The hand-release push-up manipulates the “stretch-shortening cycle,” which is a means muscle tissues are recruited to offer power in response to being in a stretched place. (10) Whereas the hand-release push-up does require a full vary of shoulder mobility, it additionally recruits the chest muscle tissues extra considerably than commonplace push-ups.

Find out how to Do the Hand-Launch Push-Up

Start in a normal push-up place, in your arms and toes along with your arms simply outdoors shoulder-width. Preserve a straight line out of your heels to your neck. Decrease your physique till your chest touches the ground.

Briefly elevate your arms off the bottom and pull your shoulder blades collectively, permitting your total higher physique to relaxation on the bottom. Instantly exchange your arms simply outdoors shoulder-width and press as much as lockout.

Advantages of the Hand-Launch Push-Up

  • Elevated chest activation in comparison with primary push-ups.
  • Permits intense coaching with no gear.
  • Push-up variations prepare stomach and whole core stability whereas additionally concentrating on the chest.

Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a time-tested chest train, typically utilized by bodybuilders to “carve element” into the chest muscle tissues. That’s not truly a factor as a result of “element” is just achieved by reducing physique fats to disclose muscular improvement.

As a result of the cable gives fixed resistance, the muscle is labored utterly by way of the entire vary of movement, in comparison with dumbbell flyes which offer various intensities as a result of leverage altering relative to gravity. Fundamental flat dumbbell flyes develop into easier as the load strikes from horizontal to perpendicular. Cable pulleys bypass that limitation.

Find out how to Do the Cable Crossover

Stand within the middle of two excessive cable pulleys with single-handles connected to every facet. Seize the handles and start along with your arms at shoulder degree and your palms dealing with ahead. Hold a slight bend in your elbows whereas pulling your arms to satisfy at stomach button-level.

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Pause briefly to maximise the height contraction earlier than returning your arms to the beginning place.

Advantages of the Cable Crossover

  • Isolates and emphasizes the chest with little to no activation of the shoulders and triceps.
  • The cable pulleys apply fixed pressure to the chest, rising the muscle’s whole time underneath pressure and resulting in elevated progress.

Smith Machine Incline Press

The Smith machine has earned a comparatively unfair fame as being ineffective for muscle progress or, worse, harmful for joint well being. That mindset comes primarily from improper train type or loading, in addition to the machine’s design which makes use of a hard and fast path and requires much less joint stabilization.

The Smith machine press has been proven to activate the chest to a virtually equivalent diploma in comparison with the flat barbell bench press whereas decreasing shoulder muscle recruitment. (11) When mixed with an incline angle to emphasise the higher chest, the Smith machine incline press turns into an especially environment friendly chest train.

Find out how to Do the Smith Machine Incline Press

Place an inclined bench underneath a Smith machine and be sure that the bar is in keeping with your collarbones. Seize the bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar and decrease it till you are feeling a most stretch throughout the chest.

Press up instantly and easily. To keep up muscular pressure, cease simply wanting lockout within the prime place earlier than starting the subsequent rep.

Advantages of the Smith Machine Incline Press

  • Permits the higher chest to be focused with decreased shoulder recruitment.
  • The Smith machine permits lifters to bench press safely with out the necessity of a spotter.

Drugs Ball Chest Go

Drugs balls are sometimes utilized in athletic or conditioning-based exercises, however can serve an vital function for constructing muscle, power, or energy.

The drugs ball chest cross permits an explosive motion which has been proven to extend chest activation in addition to increase power when adopted by heavier lifting. (12)(13) This makes it an environment friendly stimulus for constructing dimension and power.

Find out how to Do the Drugs Ball Chest Go

Stand a number of steps away from a sturdy wall, along with your toes shoulder-width aside and legs barely bent. Maintain a drugs ball in each arms, with the ball touching your chest. Shortly and forcefully throw the ball ahead, not upwards, into the wall.

Rigorously look ahead to the ball’s rebound. Decide up the ball (don’t attempt to catch it). Take a second to arrange the beginning place earlier than repeating. Word: To make sure explosive energy, use a lightweight medication ball. For instance, 10-15 kilos may very well be utilized by skilled lifters.

Advantages of the Drugs Ball Chest Go

  • Will increase chest activation throughout workouts carried out shortly afterwards.
  • Develops explosive energy which transfers to bench press power.
  • Recruits the legs, core, and higher physique with an emphasis on the chest muscle tissues.

The Chest Muscle mass

The chest has a number of heads, or sections, which could be emphasised by understanding their function and selecting particular workouts to focus on every separate part. Sadly, some lifters have misinterpreted the muscle’s design, which has made their chest exercises way more sophisticated than is critical.

Pectoralis Main

The pec main is the first chest muscle. Whereas it’s one particular muscle, it consists of two separate heads — the clavicular head (higher chest) situated within the higher quarter of the chest close to the collarbone and the sternocostal head making up all the remaining a part of the chest.

Credit score: ARENA Inventive / Shutterstock

There’s no anatomical proof for a “decrease chest,” “inside chest,” or different standard subdivision of the muscle. Solely the higher pecs have been proven to be emphasised individually, particularly from workouts carried out at an incline, because of the separate attachment level of the clavicular head.

The pecs work to convey the arms in in the direction of the physique’s centerline, seen when the arms are prolonged in a flye or press and introduced above the chest, for instance.

Pectoralis Minor

The pec minor attaches to the shoulder blade and is closely recruited to convey the scapulae (shoulder blades) ahead, significantly within the lockout place of presses. The pec minor just isn’t seen or typically instantly focused, however performs a key function in general shoulder well being.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus is a small sequence of muscle tissues that sit alongside the ribs. Just like the pec minor, they connect to the scapulae and assist to regulate scapular motion. The serratus are additionally closely recruited on the finish portion of the locked out place.

How Usually Ought to You Practice the Chest

Whereas chest coaching is standard, it shouldn’t be overemphasized relative to different physique components. Extreme chest or shoulder coaching could exacerbate postural issues except balanced by comparable again coaching. (14)

Nonetheless, for optimum muscle progress, one to 3 correctly programmed exercises every week could be an efficient strategy for muscle progress. Ideally, the chest ought to be skilled in a exercise together with the shoulders and triceps, the higher physique, or all the physique.

Woman performing chest exercise on bars outdoors
Credit score: Anton Romanov / Shutterstock

Every coaching cut up would require a distinct strategy to whole quantity (units and reps), utilizing decrease quantity for the chest when extra physique components are skilled in a single exercise. For instance, chances are you’ll carry out a complete of 14 units for the chest, adopted by shoulders and triceps; otherwise you would possibly carry out six units for chest, preceded by again and adopted by shoulders, triceps, and biceps (for an entire higher physique exercise) and repeat that higher physique exercise a number of days later.

Find out how to Progress Your Chest Coaching

As a result of the chest could be successfully skilled with a wide range of compound workouts, it’s attainable to progress steadily by including weight to these workouts every week.

Dumbbell urgent workouts, for instance, don’t essentially accommodate including 10 to twenty kilos per dumbbell every week. These weights would shortly develop into dangerously unwieldy and power ranges don’t usually progress that quick. Rising 5 to 10 kilos per dumbbell may very well be maintained for an extended interval.

The character of isolation workouts, being single-joint, doesn’t mix successfully with utilizing heavier weights. To encourage joint security and to take care of stress on the goal muscle, concentrate on including a rep (or a number of reps) on workouts like flyes or cable crossovers.

Man in gym performing incline dumbbell press
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

One dependable strategy with chest coaching is to carry out a compound train (like a press or dip) for decrease reps with a heavy weight adopted by average to greater reps with average weight utilizing a mixture of compound and isolation workouts.

Find out how to Heat-Up Your Chest

All chest workouts contain the shoulder joint and, as a result of the shoulders can endure from important put on and tear, a radical warm-up is a vital first step to any chest exercise. Take a lightweight resistance band and carry out this primary warm-up circuit earlier than any chest coaching.

  • Cat/Camel: Start in your arms and knees along with your arms straight. Look as much as the ceiling whereas sinking the arch of your backbone downwards. Whenever you’ve reached so far as your mobility permits, reverse route by driving into the bottom by way of your straight arms. Look all the way down to the bottom whereas rounding your backbone in a deep curve. That’s one full rep. Carry out 5 reps earlier than shifting to the subsequent train.
  • Band Pull-Aside: Take a resistance band with a palms-down grip, holding the band at arms-length in entrance of your physique. Hold a slight bend in your arms whereas pulling each arms again. Pause when the band touches your chest. Return to the beginning place. Carry out 10 reps earlier than shifting to the subsequent train.
  • Band Dislocate: Widen your grip on the resistance band to properly past shoulder-width. Start with the band at your waist. Hold your arms straight whereas elevating the band above your head, reaching way back to attainable. When your shoulders have reached their full vary of movement, return to the beginning place. Transfer at a gradual and managed tempo in every route. Carry out 5 reps earlier than shifting to the subsequent train.
  • Push-Up Plus: Start in a traditional push-up place, in your arms and toes along with your arms simply outdoors shoulder-width. Preserve a straight line out of your heels to your neck. Decrease your physique till your chest practically touches the ground. Press upwards underneath management. After locking out within the prime place, proceed urgent with straight arms and permit your shoulder blades to spherical forwards, earlier than reversing the method to decrease your physique. Carry out 5 reps earlier than repeating the primary train. Do a complete of three full circuits.

Constructing a Full Chest

Chest exercises don’t have to be overly sophisticated with a half-dozen workouts “attacking” the muscle from each potential angle. Nonetheless, environment friendly chest coaching additionally shouldn’t be overly minimalistic with only one train to coach all the pec. By sorting by way of the train choices you’ve simply realized, you possibly can design an entire exercise that delivers dimension and power with out losing time within the health club and with out beating up your physique.


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