Chest Exercises

Pressing with dumbbells.

The chest (Latin name – pectoralis) is by far the most popular muscle group to train by most beginners and is a very impressive part of a more advanced bodybuilder’s physique. The chest consists of pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. Pectoralis major consists of two heads – clavicular head is the top part and is more commonly called upper chest. Sternal head is the rest of the chest including middle and bottom of the muscle. You should do about four exercises per training session for your chest; two basic compound movements for the middle part of your chest (flat presses), one for inner chest, and one for upper chest.

Many chest exercises require a large amount of weigh, especially when flat pressing with a barbell. To make sure you have enough energy and power to perform them effectively you should probably use a supplement. For example, you may want to use MusclePharm Assault to make sure that you are at your best to take on the exercises.

Here are the best exercises to work your chest effectively, combine them with the suggested supplement above for the best results.

Flat bench press with a Barbell

Flat Bench Press

By far the best exercise for chest.

Its a great mass builder, easy to do, and allows you to work with some heavy weights. It works your entire sternal head which is most of your chest.

We prefer to work with a barbell, not so much with dumbbells.  With a barbell, you can handle more weight and perform the movement with stricter form.

Take the bar wider than shoulder width, lower the bar at moderate speed all the way down and touch your chest, DON’T BOUNCE THE BAR OFF YOUR CHEST.  Lowering the bar to two inches above your chest is also acceptable, that will keep constant tension in your muscles.

With dumbbells, you have the advantage of lowering the weight on the sides of your body below the level of your chest and that will stretch and stress your chest a little more.  Amount of weight and lack of balance are some of the culprits that will prevent you from getting the most out of this exercise.  (Can be done on hammer strength machines with an almost equal effect, can also be done on a smith machine with less benefit (restricted range of motion).

Incline Bench Press

This works the clavicular head of pectoralis major. Perform it the same way as flat bench press the only difference being the incline. The incline should not be more than 30%, if you’re at 45%, its too much. This exercise can also be done very effectively on a hammer strength machine and less effectively on a smith machine. BEST DONE ON FREE WEIGHTS.

Decline Bench Press

The only difference from flat and incline bench press is the negative angle of the bench. It works the bottom of your chest. Read Flat Bench Press for instructions.

Dumbbell Fly

This can be done on a flat or incline bench (we don’t advise you to do decline, it’s useless). With arms slightly bent at the elbows, lying supine on the bench, in a circular motion, bring the weight down below a line going through your chest and parallel to the ground. Bring the weight as low as you can without compromising your form. Try to pull/push the weight up until the dumbbells meet. Don’t try to cheat by going too low on your way down to build up momentum on your way up to pass through the sticking point. Flies are good for both inner and outer pecs.

Close Grip Bench Press

This exercise works the inner part of your chest. Do not take the bar too close however, leave at least two fists worth of space in between your hands. Lower the weight (barbell only) to the spot where your abs meet your chest. If you lower the bar closer to your neck, that will work the triceps.  Then lift all the way up and repeat.

Pull Over

Pull-overs are a great all-around exercise. To work your chest with it (also hits the triceps), follow the instructions of pull over for lats except for two minor changes. Bend your arms at the elbows more and make it more of a push/press than a pull.

Links for Reference

For additional information, you should consult this article on exactly how to target your chest.