The Best Chest Workouts for Muscle Mass, Strength, and More


A well-developed chest is a calling card of lifters who’ve spent months, if not years, devoted to arduous coaching. From lifters bench urgent jaw-dropping weight and bodybuilders hitting the basic “side chest” pose to rookies studying the way to do a push-up, chest coaching has at all times been a excessive precedence for anybody trying to construct muscle or take a look at their power.

Whether you’ve got restricted gear at dwelling, entry to a completely stocked business gymnasium, or no gear in any respect, you will discover an efficient chest exercise to ship the outcomes you’re after. Take a glance, select your purpose, and get coaching.

The Best Chest Workouts

Best Chest Workout With Dumbbells
Best Bodyweight Chest Workout 
Best Chest Workout for Muscle Mass
Best Chest Workout for Strength

Best Chest Workout With Dumbbells

Not all lifters have the chance to coach in a business gymnasium and have turned to coaching in a house gymnasium with no matter gear they will put collectively. Training at dwelling can have some incomparable advantages. It’s open 24 hours a day on daily basis of the 12 months, the music isn’t grating, and the gown code is extra lenient than most public gyms to the purpose of being fully non-compulsory in case you’re into that type of factor.

The largest compromise with a house gymnasium is often an absence of choices since gear should be prioritized to accommodate restricted flooring area. Home lifters ought to outfit their coaching space with the fundamentals, and usually forgo a number of benches devoted to particular angles, outsized cable machines with a collection of pulleys, and all kinds of standalone single-purpose machines for flyes or presses.

Credit: Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock

Fortunately, so long as you’ve got a primary bench and an adjustable dumbbell set or a number of pairs of dumbbells, you’ll be able to at all times prepare your chest with the best plan. And right here’s the plan to observe.

The Dumbbell-Only Workout

This exercise focuses on train selection and methods to extend time underneath stress to get probably the most profit from restricted gear. Perform all units of every train earlier than transferring to the subsequent train, and carry out the exercise a few times per week relying in your total coaching cut up.

Single-Arm Flat Dumbbell Press

How to Do it: Lie on a flat bench as if performing a typical dumbbell bench press, with a dumbbell in just one hand. The single-arm factor makes this unilateral train an intense core drill whereas additionally recruiting the chest considerably.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 6-8 per facet
Rest time: No relaxation between sides, 45 seconds relaxation between units.

Neutral-Grip Incline Dumbbell Press

How to Do it: Set the bench to an incline angle. If the bench can not regulate, place blocks or weight plates underneath the toes to raise one facet a number of inches. Keep the palms dealing with one another, not dealing with your toes, to barely lower shoulder stress and improve pec recruitment.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12
Rest time: 60 seconds between units.

Flat Dumbbell Press With Pause

How to Do it: Perform the basic flat dumbbell bench press, whereas pausing within the backside (stretched) place of every rep for two seconds.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 8-10
Rest time: 60 seconds between units.

Best Bodyweight Chest Workout 

Sometimes having no gear to coach with generally is a blessing in disguise. It forces you to be inventive in program design, assume exterior the field, and buckle all the way down to give attention to solely the best workout routines.

Bodyweight coaching has a foul repute for being “lesser than” coaching with free weights, but when you recognize what you’re doing and really push your self with the best actions, you’ll by no means name body weight coaching “easy” once more.

The Brutally Simple Bodyweight Workout

When you consider “bodyweight chest exercise”, you consider push-ups. You may also consider dips, however technically you want dip bars for these, in order that they’re not really a bodyweight-only train.

This exercise couldn’t be extra simple. Do 100 push-ups, regardless of how lengthy it takes. Three to 5 days later, do 100 push-ups once more however get them performed in much less time. It’s primary density coaching — get the identical quantity of labor performed in much less time or do extra work in the identical period of time.

Bald man wearing headphones performing push-ups outdoors
Credit: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Because 100 is a pleasant spherical quantity, that’s the stationary goal and you’ll give attention to shaving down the time every session. Also, it’s simply kinda cool to have the ability to say, “I knocked out 100 push-ups this morning.” Knocking out 105 push-ups sounds unusual.

The most important factor right here is that, regardless of how fatigued you’re, you can’t sacrifice type to squeeze out ugly reps. It’s 100 perfect-technique push-ups, not 36 good push-ups adopted by 64 half-reps. Each rep ought to have the chest almost touching the ground (relying in your shoulder mobility) on the backside and arms locked out on the high.

Push-up

How to Do it: Support your physique in your toes and palms, together with your palms set barely exterior shoulder-width. While maintaining a straight line out of your neck to your ankles throughout every rep, bend your elbows to decrease your complete physique, and press to full lockout. To scale back shoulder joint pressure, purpose your elbows extra in the direction of your toes than your shoulders.
Sets and Reps: 100 reps whole, damaged down into as many or as few units as obligatory till completion.
Rest time: Rest as wanted. Start a timer instantly earlier than starting the primary rep and cease the timer instantly after finishing the final rep. Record the whole time and purpose to enhance by one second or extra every exercise.

Best Chest Workout for Muscle Mass

A muscle-building chest exercise is a bodybuilder’s bread and butter. The typical lifter will reluctantly trudge by way of their leg day however channel that lack of enthusiasm into chest day, and that’s A-okay so long as they get their work performed in every session.

Chest Day, Best Day

This is a time-tested, bodybuilding-style method to coaching. Attacking a physique half with a number of workout routines and completely different angles, taking every set proper as much as muscular failure with high-intensity methods, and ideally getting a critical pump within the goal muscle by the tip of the session.

Bodybuilder flexing chest and arm muscles
Credit: ALL greatest health is HERE / Shutterstock

This specific exercise can standalone for a chest-only session or it may be adopted by coaching the shoulders and triceps as a part of a “pushing muscle” day. You may get an entire higher physique exercise by coaching again instantly earlier than chest or interspersing the workout routines as supersets. 

Dip

How to Do it: Begin on the high place on a set of dip bars. Emphasize chest recruitment and stretch by leaning your higher physique ahead (not staying upright) as you bend your elbows and decrease so far as mobility permits. Pause briefly earlier than urgent again up.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 8-12
Rest time: 60 seconds between units.

Pec-Deck With One-and-a-Half Reps

How to Do it: On a pec-deck machine, set the seat so your palms are gripping the handles under shoulder top and in-line together with your mid-chest. Perform every set utilizing the “one and a half rep” approach by reducing the burden right into a full stretch, elevating the burden to full contraction, then reducing the burden midway down, bringing it as much as full contraction once more, and lastly reducing it absolutely. That’s counted as one full rep.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-10
Rest time: No relaxation earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

How to Do it: Take a past shoulder-width grip and decrease the bar in-line with the mid-chest. If shoulder mobility permits, contact the bar to your chest briefly earlier than urgent upwards. Be conscious that the earlier train can have pre-exhausted the chest muscular tissues and they’re starting this train already fatigued. Choose an acceptable weight and use a spotter if attainable.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-12
Rest time: 90 seconds relaxation earlier than returning to the earlier train.

Smith Machine Incline Press

How to Do it: Position a 30 or 45-degree incline bench underneath a Smith machine so the bar is lined up together with your higher chest/collarbone space. Grip the bar barely wider than the flat barbell bench press grip. Perform repetitions easily with no pause at lockout or within the stretch place, bringing the bar to at the very least chin-level on the backside.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 12-15
Rest time: 45 seconds between units.

Best Chest Workout For Strength

“How a lot ‘ya bench?” might as well be gym-speak for “Hi, how are you?” It’s requested as usually and it’s answered as actually. Everyone’s at all times “fine, thanks” and everybody at all times benches “around 300.”

Regardless of the questionable repute as an ego elevate, the bench press is a real evaluation of higher physique urgent energy. Building a robust and highly effective chest is, has, and will at all times be a precedence for most devoted lifters. Here’s a easy and efficient plan to construct critical urgent power.

The Bigger Bench Plan

A chest-focused power exercise will, appropriately, be centered across the flat barbell bench press. It’s one of many basic “big three” powerlifts for a cause, as a result of it’s one of many only a few methods to maneuver vital weight with an higher physique press.

Hand holding a barbell loaded with very heavy weights
Credit: sportpoint / Shutterstock

The once-a-week exercise makes use of science-based explosive coaching, generally known as “post-activation potentiation”, to enhance energy output on the bench press, adopted by particular accent workout routines to construct power within the chest and urgent muscular tissues. (1)(2)(3)

Plyometric Push-up

How to Do it: From a primary push-up place (palms and toes touching the bottom, with a straight line from neck to ankles), descend underneath management to the underside place and explode upwards with most drive. The palms ought to go away the bottom briefly. Catch your self and pause on the high earlier than performing the subsequent rep.
Sets and Reps: 5 x 5
Rest time: 60 seconds earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

How to Do it: Take a past shoulder-width grip and decrease the bar in-line with the mid-chest. If shoulder mobility permits, contact the bar to your chest briefly earlier than urgent upwards. Pause at full lockout briefly earlier than reducing the bar underneath management.
Sets and Reps: 5 x 3
Rest time: Three minutes earlier than returning to the primary train.

Floor Press

How to Do it: Lie on the ground with a bar set in a rack at arms size above your head. Keep the legs straight all through the set. Unrack the bar and decrease underneath management till your elbows delicately contact the bottom (don’t slam the burden down). Pause with the elbows on the bottom for one second earlier than urgent to full lockout.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 4-6
Rest time: Three minutes between units.

Dip

How to Do it: Begin on the high place on a set of dip bars. Bend your elbows and decrease to the underside of the rep. The torso could also be barely upright through the motion to contain the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Pause briefly earlier than urgent again up. Increase resistance with a weight belt, weighted vest, or by squeezing a dumbbell between your thighs above your knees.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 6-8
Rest time: Two minutes between units.

The Chest Muscles

Many lifters design chest exercises with the intention of coaching “all parts of the chest”. That method can definitely be efficient, however it first requires understanding precisely what does, and what doesn’t, make up “all parts of the chest.” Here’s a fast and helpful lesson in purposeful anatomy.

Pectoralis Major

The pec main is the muscle everybody merely refers to as “the chest”. It’s the big chunk of muscle on the higher torso, above the abs and under the neck. Common bodybuilding lore says the physique half is split into the “upper chest”, “mid chest”, “lower chest”, “inner chest” and “outer chest”, whereas claiming every part may be focused by particular workout routines. This is flawed. Or at the very least, it’s an enormous misinterpretation of how the physique really works.

Diagram of the human body focusing on the chest muscle
Credit: Magic mine / Shutterstock

The pec main is one muscle, similar to the biceps are one muscle. However, similar to the biceps embody a number of heads which may be recruited in a different way to contribute to barely completely different total progress, the pec main accommodates two heads — the sternocostal and the clavicular.

The sternocostal head is accountable for the overwhelming majority of motion and is recruited in all urgent workout routines. The clavicular head is the area generally known as “upper chest” and has been proven to be recruited extra effectively with workout routines performed at a 30 or 45-degree incline. (4) (5).

So, anatomically talking, there’s “the upper chest” and “the rest of the chest”. The majority of workout routines will work each heads, whereas inclined workout routines prioritize the higher chest, and anybody who talks about focusing on the “inner chest” or “outer-lower chest sweep” isn’t actually speaking about coaching the human physique.

Pectoralis Minor

The pec minor lives beneath the pec main and attaches to the scapula (shoulder blade) to play a job in scapular motion. It’s concerned in almost each chest train, however is particularly referred to as into motion when the scapulae transfer ahead, similar to throughout a push-up or chest press train.

Due to its comparatively small measurement, location, and perform, it’s not more likely to expertise vital (or seen) muscle progress however serves a useful position for total joint perform and well being.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior is the finger-like cluster of muscular tissues barely under the chest, alongside the facet of the ribs. Similar to the pec minor, they connect to the scapulae and play a job in scapular motion, stability, and well being. (6) The serratus can also be concerned throughout chest urgent workout routines, significantly towards the lockout place when/if the scapulae are allowed to “flex” ahead (protraction).

Serratus muscle progress is minimal, however when the muscular tissues are developed, and significantly when accompanied by low physique fats, they could be a noticeable addition to a formidable physique.

A Chest Warm-Up is Essential

No matter your purpose or coaching plan, a particular chest warm-up can assist to enhance total efficiency and scale back the danger of harm. Pec tears, shoulder strains, and extreme elbow stress can happen when poorly deliberate exercises mix with insufficient warm-ups.

Man in gym holding injured chest muscle
Credit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

A radical and efficient warm-up may be time-efficient with out compromising on advantages. Grab a resistance band and use this fast circuit to start out any chest session.

The Complete Chest Warm-Up Circuit

Slow Push-up Plus: Perform a primary push-up taking two seconds to decrease your physique and two seconds to press up. When your arms are locked on the high of every rep, proceed “pressing” to achieve the shoulder blades in the direction of the bottom earlier than performing the subsequent rep (this added vary of movement is the “plus” a part of a “push-up plus”). Do three repetitions earlier than transferring instantly to the subsequent train.
Push-up Plank Shoulder Tap: From the highest of a push-up place, unfold your toes barely wider for help and alternate touching every shoulder with the alternative hand. Perform 10 reps whole, alternating every hand, earlier than transferring instantly to the subsequent train.
Band Pull-Apart: Take a resistance band with a palms-down grip, holding the band at arms-length in entrance of your physique. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, pull each palms again to carry out a reverse flye motion together with your shoulders and higher again till the band touches your chest. Return to the beginning place underneath management. Perform 10 reps earlier than repeating the primary train. Do a complete of 4 units of the entire circuit.

Powerful, High-Performance Pecs

Whether you wish to bench press a bike, construct a beach-worthy physique, or simply get an ideal exercise at dwelling or on the street, you’re now armed with loads of choices to coach what’s arguably the preferred physique half within the gymnasium. Just remember to observe a well-designed plan and by no means let your ego write checks your joints can’t money.

References

Krzysztofik, M., & Wilk, M. (2020). The Effects of Plyometric Conditioning on Post-Activation Bench Press Performance. Journal of human kinetics, 74, 99–108. 
https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2020-0017Ulrich G, Parstorfer M. Effects of Plyometric Versus Concentric and Eccentric Conditioning Contractions on Upper-Body Postactivation Potentiation. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2017 Jul;12(6):736-741. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0278. Epub 2016 Oct 13. PMID: 27736266.
Clark, Ross A1,3; Humphries, Brendan2; Hohmann, Erik3,4; Bryant, Adam L1 The Influence of Variable Range of Motion Training on Neuromuscular Performance and Control of External Loads, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: March 2011 – Volume 25 – Issue 3 – p 704-711 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c6a0ff
Lauver JD, Cayot TE, Scheuermann BW. Influence of bench angle on higher extremity muscular activation throughout bench press train. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(3):309-16. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2015.1022605. Epub 2015 Mar 23. PMID: 25799093.
Rodríguez-Ridao, D., Antequera-Vique, J. A., Martín-Fuentes, I., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Effect of Five Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Activity of the Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii through the Bench Press Exercise. International journal of environmental analysis and public well being, 17(19), 7339. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197339
Castelein B, Cagnie B, Parlevliet T, Cools A. Serratus anterior or pectoralis minor: Which muscle has the higher hand throughout protraction workout routines? Man Ther. 2016 Apr;22:158-64. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.12.002. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PMID: 26749459.

Feature Image: ALL greatest health is HERE / Shutterstock



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