Exercises for the Chest That Will Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

Exercises for the Chest That Will Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

Lifters who have dedicated months, if not years, to hard training have a well-developed chest as a calling card. Chest training has always been a major priority for anyone trying to grow muscle or test their strength, from lifters bench pressing jaw-dropping weights and bodybuilders striking the classic "side chest" stance to newbies learning how to do a push-up.

You can find an effective chest workout that get the results you want whether you have limited equipment at home, access to a fully stocked commercial gym, or no equipment at all. Take a look, pick a goal, and get started.

The Most Effective Chest Exercises

The Best Dumbbell Chest Workout

The Best Bodyweight Chest Exercise

The Best Workout for Muscle Mass in the Chest

Strengthening Your Chest Workout

The Best Dumbbell Chest Workout

Because not everyone has access to a professional gym, many lifters have resorted to training in their homes with whatever equipment they can find. Training at home can provide unparalleled advantages. It's open all year, 24 hours a day, and the music is never grating. The dress code is also more flexible than most public gyms, to the point of being fully optional if you're like that sort of thing.

Because equipment must be prioritised to meet restricted floor space, the most significant concession with a home gym is often a lack of options. Many home lifters forego various benches dedicated to specific angles, large cable machines with a variety of pulleys, and a variety of standalone single-purpose machines for flyes or presses in favour of the essentials.

Fortunately, you can always exercise your chest with the appropriate strategy if you have a basic bench and an adjustable dumbbell set or a few pairs of dumbbells. And here's the game plan:

The Dumbbell-Only Workout is a workout that uses only dumbbells.

This workout focuses on a range of exercises and approaches for increasing time under strain so that you may get the most out of your restricted equipment. Perform all sets of each exercise before going on to the next, and repeat the programme once or twice a week, depending on your total training schedule.

Dumbbell Press with One Arm

How to Do It: Lie down on a flat bench as if you were doing a conventional dumbbell bench press, but with only one dumbbell in each hand. Because of the single-arm nature of this unilateral exercise, it's a great core workout that also works the chest.

3 x 6-8 reps per side, sets and reps

Pause time: 45 seconds between sets, no rest between sides.

Dumbbell Press with Neutral-Grip Incline

Set the bench at an inclination angle to begin. Place blocks or weight plates under the feet to raise one side several inches if the bench can't adjust. To reduce shoulder stress and maximise pec recruitment, keep your hands facing each other rather than facing your feet.

4 x 10-12 reps, 4 x 10-12 reps, 4 x 10-12 reps, 4 x 10-12

Between sets, take a 60-second break.

With a Pause, Flat Dumbbell Press

Perform the standard flat dumbbell bench press, stopping for two seconds in the bottom (extended) position of each rep.

3 x 8-10 reps (sets and reps)

Between sets, take a 60-second break.

The Best Bodyweight Chest Exercise

Having no tools with which to train can be a blessing in disguise. It forces you to be innovative in your programme design, to think outside the box, and to narrow your attention to only the most beneficial activities.

Bodyweight training gets a horrible reputation for being "lesser" than free weight training, but if you know what you're doing and push yourself with the proper exercises, you'll never call it "easy" again.

Bodyweight Workout That Is Brutally Simple

Push-ups come to mind when you think of "bodyweight chest workout." Dips are another option, although they require the use of dip bars, so they're not truly a bodyweight-only exercise.

This workout couldn't be any easier. Do 100 push-ups for as long as it takes. Do 100 push-ups again three to five days later, but this time in less time. It's simple density training: accomplish the same amount of work in less time or do more work in the same time.

Because 100 is a good round figure, that will be your fixed goal, and you'll concentrate on reducing the time each session. It's also sort of amazing to be able to say, "This morning, I pounded out 100 push-ups." Performing 105 push-ups seems unusual.

The most important thing to remember here is that you cannot sacrifice form to squeeze out ugly reps, no matter how tired you are. Not 36 perfect push-ups followed by 64 half-reps, but 100 perfect-technique push-ups. At the bottom of each rep, your chest should be nearly touching the floor (depending on your shoulder mobility) and your arms should be locked out.


How to Do It: Support your body with your toes and hands, somewhat wider than shoulder width. Bend your elbows to lower your entire body and press to full lockout while maintaining a straight line from your neck to your ankles during each rep. Aim your elbows further towards your feet than your shoulders to avoid shoulder joint tension.

Sets and Reps: Total of 100 reps, divided down into as many or as few sets as needed until completed.

Rest time: Take as much time as you need. Set a timer for one minute before starting the first rep and one minute after finishing the last rep. Each workout, keep track of your total time and try to improve by one second or more.

The Best Workout for Muscle Mass in the Chest

A bodybuilder's bread and butter is a muscle-building chest workout. The average lifter will grudgingly plod through leg day but channel that apathy into chest day, which is fine as long as they complete their work in each session.

Day of the Chest, Day of the Best

This is a tried-and-true bodybuilding training method. Using many exercises and varied angles to attack a body region, pushing each set to physical failure using high-intensity techniques, and ideally creating a big pump in the target muscle by the end of the session.

This programme can be done on its own for a chest-only workout or combined with shoulder and triceps training for a "pushing muscle" day. You can also obtain a full upper-body workout by doing back exercises first, then chest, or by supersetting the movements.


Start at the top of a set of dip bars and work your way down. Leaning your upper body forward (rather than staying upright) while bending your elbows and lowering as much as mobility allows, emphasises chest activation and stretching. Before pressing up again, take a small pause.

3 x 8-12 reps (sets and reps)

Between sets, take a 60-second break.

One-and-a-Half Reps on the Pec-Deck

Setting the seat on a pec-deck machine so your hands are clutching the grips below shoulder height and in line with your mid-chest is how to do it. Use the "one and a half rep" technique to complete each set by lowering the weight into a full stretch, rising it to full contraction, then lowering the weight halfway down, bringing it up to full contraction again, and finally lowering it completely. This counts as one complete rep.

4 x 8-10 reps, 4 x 8-10 reps, 4 x 8-10 reps, 4 x 8-10

Time to relax: There is no time to rest before moving on to the next workout.

Bench Press with a Flat Barbell

How to Do It: Take a grip that is wider than shoulder width and drop the bar to your mid-chest. Touch the bar to your chest briefly if shoulder mobility allows before pressing upwards. Keep in mind that the preceding exercise will have pre-exhausted the chest muscles, so they'll be tired before you start this one. If feasible, utilise a spotter and choose an acceptable weight.

4 x 8-12 reps, 4 x 8-12 reps, 4 x 8-12 reps, 4 x 8-12

Before returning to the last exercise, take a 90-second break.

Incline Press by Smith Machine

How to Go About It: Under a Smith machine, place a 30 or 45-degree incline bench with the bar aligned with your upper chest/collarbone area. Grip the bar slightly wider than you would if you were doing a flat barbell bench press. Reps should be seamless, with no pauses at lockout or in the stretch position, and the bar should be at least chin-level at the bottom.

3 x 12-15 reps, 3 x 12-15 reps, 3 x 12-15 reps, 3 x 12-15

Between sets, take a 45-second break.

Strengthening Your Chest Workout

"How much 'ya bench?" may just as well be gym jargon for "How are you doing?" It's a question that's asked frequently, and it's answered honestly. Everyone always says, "Thank you," and everyone benches "about 300."

Despite its dubious reputation as an ego boost, the bench press is a legitimate test of upper body pressing strength. For most devoted lifters, developing a strong and powerful chest is, has been, and will will be a top priority. Here's a quick and easy way to improve your pressing strength.

Plan for a Larger Bench

The flat barbell bench press will be the focal point of a chest-focused strength training. Because it's one of the few ways to move large weight with an upper body press, it's one of the classic "big three" powerlifts.

The once-weekly programme incorporates science-based explosive training, also known as "post-activation potentiation," to increase bench press power output, followed by specific accessory exercises to increase chest and pressing muscle strength.

Push-ups with a plyometric component

How to Do It: Begin in a basic push-up position (hands and toes touching the ground, neck to ankles in a straight line), then fall to the bottom position under control and explode upwards with maximum force. The hands should temporarily leave the ground. Before doing the next exercise, catch yourself and pause at the top.

5 × 5 reps and sets

Before moving on to the next exercise, take a 60-second break.

Bench Press with a Flat Barbell

How to Do It: Take a grip that is wider than shoulder width and drop the bar to your mid-chest. Touch the bar to your chest briefly if shoulder mobility allows before pressing upwards. Before lowering the bar under control, pause briefly at full lockout.

5 x 3 reps and sets

Before returning to the first exercise, take a three-minute break.

Pressing on the Floor

How to Do It: Lie down on the floor with a bar positioned in a rack above your head at arms length. Throughout the set, keep your legs straight. Unrack the bar and slowly lower it to the ground, keeping your elbows in a delicate position (do not slam the weight down). Before pressing to full lockout, pause for one second with your elbows on the ground.

4 x 4-6 reps (sets and reps)

Between sets, take a three-minute break.


Start at the top of a set of dip bars and work your way down. Lower to the bottom of the rep by bending your elbows. To engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps, the torso may be somewhat upright during the movement. Before pressing up again, take a small pause. Use a weight belt, a weighted vest, or squeezing a dumbbell between your thighs above your knees to provide resistance.

4 x 6-8 reps (sets and reps)

Between sets, take a two-minute break.

Muscles of the Chest

Many weightlifters create chest routines with the goal of working "every area of the chest." That method is absolutely viable, but it necessitates a thorough understanding of what constitutes "all regions of the chest" and what does not. Here's a brief and valuable functional anatomy lesson.

Major Pectoralis

The pectoralis major is the muscle that everyone refers to simply as "the chest." It's the major muscle on the upper torso, just below the neck and above the abs. The "upper chest," "mid chest," "lower chest," "inner chest," and "outer chest," according to popular bodybuilding lore, are split into the "upper chest," "mid chest," "lower chest," "inner chest," and "outer chest," with each component addressed by distinct exercises. This is incorrect. Or, at the very least, it's a profound misunderstanding of how the human body functions.

The pectoralis major, like the biceps, is a single muscle. The sternocostal and clavicular heads of the pec major, like the biceps, have numerous heads that can be recruited in different ways to contribute to slightly differing total growth.

All pressing activities recruit the sternocostal head, which is responsible for the vast bulk of movement. The clavicular head, sometimes known as the "upper chest," has been demonstrated to be more effectively recruited with exercises performed at a 30 or 45-degree elevation.

So there's "the upper chest" and "the remainder of the chest" anatomically. The bulk of exercises target both heads, whereas inclined workouts focus on the upper chest, and anyone who talks about targeting the "inner chest" or "outer-lower chest sweep" isn't actually talking about human body conditioning.

Minor Pectoralis

 The pec minor is a muscle that lies beneath the pec major and joins to the scapula (shoulder blade) to help with scapular mobility. It's engaged in practically every chest activity, but it's especially active when the scapulae move forward, as they do during a push-up or chest press.

 It is unlikely to see significant (or apparent) muscle growth because to its modest size, position, and function, yet it plays an important part in total joint performance and health.

Anterior Serratus

The serratus anterior is a finger-like cluster of muscles that runs down the side of the ribs, somewhat below the chest. They attach to the scapulae and perform a function in scapular movement, stability, and health, similar to the pec minor. (6) The serratus is also implicated in chest pressing workouts, particularly when the scapulae are allowed to "flex" forward toward the lockout position (protraction).

Serratus muscle growth is small, but when the muscles are well-developed and accompanied by a low body fat percentage, they can be a visible addition to an attractive physique.

Warming Up Your Chest Is Crucial

 A specialised chest warm-up can assist to increase overall performance and reduce the chance of injury, regardless of your goal or training plan. When poorly planned workouts are combined with insufficient warm-ups, pec rips, shoulder strains, and excessive elbow stress can develop.

Warming up thoroughly and effectively can save time without sacrificing effectiveness. To begin any chest workout, grab a resistance band and use this fast circuit.

The Complete Warm-Up Circuit for the Chest

 Slow Push-up Plus: Perform a basic push-up, lowering your body for two seconds and pressing up for two seconds. Continue "pushing" to reach the shoulder blades towards the ground when your arms are locked at the peak of each rep before doing the next rep (this increased range of motion is the "plus" element of a "push-up plus"). Perform three reps before immediately moving on to the next exercise.

 Push-up Plank Shoulder Tap: Begin by spreading your feet slightly wider for stability, then alternating touching each shoulder with the opposing hand. Perform a total of 10 reps, switching each hand, before moving on to the next exercise.

 Pull-Apart with a Resistance Band: Grab a resistance band with your hands down and hold it at arms' length in front of your body. Pull both hands back to make a reverse flye action with your shoulders and upper back until the band hits your chest, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Under control, return to the starting position. Repeat the first exercise for a total of 10 reps. Complete the circuit four times in total.


Pecs that are both powerful and high-performing

 You now have plenty of options for training what is likely the most popular body part in the gym, whether you want to bench press a motorcycle, grow a beach-worthy physique, or simply get a terrific exercise at home or on the road. Just remember to stick to a well-thought-out strategy and never let your ego write checks that your joints can't cash.

source: breakingmuscle.com/best-chest-workouts/