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The 12 Finest Chest Workout routines for Larger, Stronger Pecs

Chest coaching is a spotlight in most lifters’ routines. It’s both the day they get to throw round large weight on the bench or the day they get a superb pump with speedy (nonetheless non permanent) outcomes.

Train alternative can dramatically affect general outcomes, particularly in relation to coaching the chest. Between myths about “concentrating on” totally different elements of the chest, coaching too heavy, or over-stressing shoulder and elbow joints greater than pectoral muscle groups, many lifters are fortunate to finish up with a well-designed program. Nevertheless, luck has a approach of evaporating while you lean on it too usually. Under, we listing 12 of the most effective chest workout routines to construct your chest program round.

Finest Chest Workout routines

Flat Barbell Bench Press

In the event you’re studying a listing of the “finest chest workout routines” and don’t see the traditional bench press, your intuition may be 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 approach changes can shift the emphasis in direction of dimension or power, so it’s vital to know the way and why you’re performing the train to get most outcomes.

How one can Do the Flat Barbell Bench Press

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

Along 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 burden 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 ft and shoulders. Briefly pause within the backside place earlier than urgent up. Within the locked out place, the bar needs to be above your higher chest or neck.

Advantages of the Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • It trains the chest by 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’ll be able to load the barbell with a big quantity of weight relative to different chest workout routines, making it appropriate for very long-term progress.

Guillotine Press

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

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

How one can Do the Guillotine Press

Lie on a flat bench along with your ft flat on the bottom. Maintain 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 doable. Unrack the bar by urgent upwards, and pull the bar to a place above your neck.

As you decrease the bar, hold your elbows pointed straight out to every facet. This can drastically enhance the stretch on the chest muscle groups. Maintain the bar consistent with your neck as you decrease it so far as doable. Press upwards instantly after reaching most stretch.

Advantages of the Guillotine Press

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

Barbell Pullover

The barbell pullover is among the oldest workout routines a lifter can do, with weightlifters within the late-1800s advocating the train. It’s additionally some of the complicated workout routines. Not often do lifters argue over which muscle groups are skilled by a particular train, as a result of there’s nearly at all times a clear-cut reply, however the pullover is continually on the middle of an ongoing “chest train or again train” debate.

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

How one can 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 burden right into a place over your face and straighten your arms. Plant your ft securely on the bottom.

Maintain your glutes on the bench. Decrease the burden in direction of your head, descending practically consistent 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 burden.

Advantages of the Barbell Pullover

  • Targets the chest, lats, and shoulder muscle groups.
  • 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 usually incorporates a wide range of angles to optimally handle each the “higher chest” (clavicular head of the pecs) and the “mid or decrease chest” (sternocostal head of the pecs). These totally different elements of the chest muscle will probably be extra completely addressed in a later part.

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

How one can 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 beneath 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 palms barely in direction of your ft by rotating your wrists outwards. Neither your palms nor your thumbs needs to be straight pointed in direction of one another. Preserve this hand place all through every rep. Decrease the weights beneath 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 totally 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 aggravating to the joints.

Decline Dumbbell Press

Decline bench press variations are sometimes believed to emphasise the “decrease pecs” as a consequence of arm place. Nevertheless, 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 an alternative of a barbell additionally permits a larger vary of movement which may translate to a larger muscle-building stimulus.

How one can Do the Decline Dumbbell Press

Alter 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. Remember to hook the bench with the again of your knees to forestall your physique from sliding downwards.

Angle your palms barely in direction of your ft by rotating your wrists outwards. Preserve this diagonal hand place for every rep. Your elbows ought to preserve a slight angle between your shoulders and ft. 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 groups. This makes it a superb 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 supply restricted resistance on the prime. With a decline bench, the muscle groups are extra extremely activated to assist the load.

How one can 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. Remember to 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 going through one another. Decrease the weights in direction of the bottom whereas retaining your palms consistent with your elbows. Don’t enable the weights to rotate your arms in direction of your head. Within the backside place, the weights needs to be close to chest-level. Contract your chest to “pull” your palms 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 superb approach to goal the chest, shoulders, and triceps utilizing solely your body weight, making it best for lifters with restricted gear. It really works the muscle by 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.

How one can 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 through the motion. Conserving an upright torso will scale back chest exercise and enhance deal with the triceps.

Bend your arms to decrease your physique so far as your shoulder mobility permits. Pause briefly within the stretched place to additional enhance 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 through the train.
  • Body weight workout routines 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 spanking new lifters, however it may be troublesome to progressively overload. Quite 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 groups to work by a particularly lengthy vary of movement, transferring the arms inwards through the train reasonably than remaining static. This inward movement has been proven to considerably enhance muscle activation within the chest. (9)

How one can 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 palms on the sliders and practically touching one another. Preserve a straight line out of your heels to your neck.

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

Advantages of the Sliding Push-Up

  • Elevated chest activation in comparison with fundamental push-ups.
  • Permits intense coaching with restricted gear.
  • Push-up variations practice belly and complete core stability whereas additionally concentrating on the chest.

Hand-Launch Push-Up

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

The hand-release push-up manipulates the “stretch-shortening cycle,” which is a approach muscle groups are recruited to supply 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 groups extra considerably than normal push-ups.

How one can Do the Hand-Launch Push-Up

Start in an ordinary push-up place, in your palms and toes along with your palms 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 palms off the bottom and pull your shoulder blades collectively, permitting your total higher physique to relaxation on the bottom. Instantly change your palms simply outdoors shoulder-width and press as much as lockout.

Advantages of the Hand-Launch Push-Up

  • Elevated chest activation in comparison with fundamental push-ups.
  • Permits intense coaching with no gear.
  • Push-up variations practice belly and complete core stability whereas additionally concentrating on the chest.

Cable Crossover

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

As a result of the cable offers fixed resistance, the muscle is labored utterly by the whole vary of movement, in comparison with dumbbell flyes which offer various intensities as a consequence of leverage altering relative to gravity. Fundamental flat dumbbell flyes grow to be more easy as the burden strikes from horizontal to perpendicular. Cable pulleys bypass that limitation.

How one can 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 going through ahead. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows whereas pulling your palms to satisfy at stomach button-level.

Pause briefly to maximise the height contraction earlier than returning your palms 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 complete time beneath 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 set path and requires much less joint stabilization.

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

How one can Do the Smith Machine Incline Press

Place an inclined bench beneath a Smith machine and be certain that the bar is consistent with your collarbones. Seize the bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar and decrease it till you’re feeling a most stretch throughout the chest.

Press up instantly and easily. To keep up muscular pressure, cease simply in need of 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 position 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.

How one can Do the Drugs Ball Chest Go

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

Rigorously look ahead to the ball’s rebound. Choose up the ball (don’t attempt to catch it). Take a second to arrange the beginning place earlier than repeating. Observe: To make sure explosive energy, use a light-weight drugs ball. For instance, 10-15 kilos could possibly be utilized by skilled lifters.

Advantages of the Drugs Ball Chest Go

  • Will increase chest activation throughout workout routines 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 groups.

The Chest Muscle mass

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

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 fashionable subdivision of the muscle. Solely the higher pecs have been proven to be emphasised individually, particularly from workout routines carried out at an incline, because of the separate attachment level of the clavicular head.

The pecs work to deliver the arms in in 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 deliver the scapulae (shoulder blades) ahead, notably within the lockout place of presses. The pec minor shouldn’t be seen or usually straight focused, however performs a key position in general shoulder well being.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus is a small sequence of muscle groups 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 Typically Ought to You Prepare the Chest

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

Nevertheless, for optimum muscle progress, one to 3 correctly programmed exercises every week could be an efficient strategy for muscle progress. Ideally, the chest needs 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 break up would require a special strategy to complete quantity (units and reps), utilizing decrease quantity for the chest when extra physique elements are skilled in a single exercise. For instance, it’s possible you’ll carry out a complete of 14 units for the chest, adopted by shoulders and triceps; otherwise you may 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.

How one can Progress Your Chest Coaching

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

Dumbbell urgent workout routines, for instance, don’t essentially accommodate including 10 to twenty kilos per dumbbell every week. These weights would shortly grow to be dangerously unwieldy and power ranges don’t usually progress that quick. Rising 5 to 10 kilos per dumbbell could possibly be maintained for an extended interval.

The character of isolation workout routines, being single-joint, doesn’t mix successfully with utilizing heavier weights. To encourage joint security and to keep up stress on the goal muscle, deal with including a rep (or a number of reps) on workout routines 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 increased reps with average weight utilizing a mixture of compound and isolation workout routines.

How one can Heat-Up Your Chest

All chest workout routines contain the shoulder joint and, as a result of the shoulders can endure from important put on and tear, an intensive warm-up is a vital first step to any chest exercise. Take a light-weight resistance band and carry out this fundamental warm-up circuit earlier than any chest coaching.

  • Cat/Camel: Start in your palms and knees along with your arms straight. Look as much as the ceiling whereas sinking the arch of your backbone downwards. If you’ve reached so far as your mobility permits, reverse course by driving into the bottom by your straight arms. Look right down to the bottom whereas rounding your backbone in a deep curve. That’s one full rep. Carry out 5 reps earlier than transferring 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. Maintain a slight bend in your arms whereas pulling each palms again. Pause when the band touches your chest. Return to the beginning place. Carry out 10 reps earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.
  • Band Dislocate: Widen your grip on the resistance band to effectively past shoulder-width. Start with the band at your waist. Maintain your arms straight whereas elevating the band above your head, reaching way back to doable. When your shoulders have reached their full vary of movement, return to the beginning place. Transfer at a sluggish and managed tempo in every course. Carry out 5 reps earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.
  • Push-Up Plus: Start in a traditional push-up place, in your palms and toes along with your palms 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 beneath 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 should be overly sophisticated with a half-dozen workout routines “attacking” the muscle from each potential angle. Nevertheless, environment friendly chest coaching additionally shouldn’t be overly minimalistic with only one train to coach all the pec. By sorting by the train choices you’ve simply discovered, 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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