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The Finest Chest Exercises for Muscle Mass, Energy, and Extra

A well-developed chest is a calling card of lifters who’ve spent months, if not years, devoted to laborious coaching. From lifters bench urgent jaw-dropping weight and bodybuilders hitting the basic “facet chest” pose to newbies studying tips on how to do a push-up, chest coaching has all the time been a excessive precedence for anybody seeking to construct muscle or check their energy.

Whether or not you might have restricted gear at dwelling, entry to a completely stocked business fitness center, or no gear in any respect, you could find an efficient chest exercise to ship the outcomes you’re after. Have a look, select your objective, and get coaching.

The Finest Chest Exercises

  • Finest Chest Exercise With Dumbbells
  • Finest Body weight Chest Exercise 
  • Finest Chest Exercise for Muscle Mass
  • Finest Chest Exercise for Energy

Finest Chest Exercise With Dumbbells

Not all lifters have the chance to coach in a business fitness center and have turned to coaching in a house fitness center with no matter gear they will put collectively. Coaching at dwelling can have some incomparable advantages. It’s open 24 hours a day every single day of the 12 months, the music isn’t grating, and the costume code is extra lenient than most public gyms to the purpose of being completely elective for those who’re into that form of factor.

The largest compromise with a house fitness center is often a scarcity of choices since gear have to be prioritized to accommodate restricted flooring house. Residence lifters ought to outfit their coaching space with the fundamentals, and sometimes forgo a number of benches devoted to particular angles, outsized cable machines with a number of pulleys, and all kinds of standalone single-purpose machines for flyes or presses.

Muscular man in dark gym lying on bench while pressing dumbbells
Credit score: Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock

Happily, so long as you might have a fundamental bench and an adjustable dumbbell set or a number of pairs of dumbbells, you’ll be able to all the time prepare your chest with the proper plan. And right here’s the plan to comply with.

The Dumbbell-Solely Exercise

This exercise focuses on train selection and strategies to extend time underneath rigidity to get essentially the most profit from restricted gear. Carry out 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

  • The right way to Do it: Lie on a flat bench as if performing a regular dumbbell bench press, with a dumbbell in just one hand. The only-arm aspect makes this unilateral train an intense core drill whereas additionally recruiting the chest considerably.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 6-8 per facet
  • Relaxation time: No relaxation between sides, 45 seconds relaxation between units.

Impartial-Grip Incline Dumbbell Press

  • The right way to Do it: Set the bench to an incline angle. If the bench can’t modify, place blocks or weight plates underneath the toes to raise one facet a number of inches. Hold the arms dealing with one another, not dealing with your toes, to barely lower shoulder stress and enhance pec recruitment.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 10-12
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

Flat Dumbbell Press With Pause

  • The right way to Do it: Carry out the basic flat dumbbell bench press, whereas pausing within the backside (stretched) place of every rep for 2 seconds.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 8-10
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

Finest Body weight Chest Exercise 

Typically having no gear to coach with is usually a blessing in disguise. It forces you to be artistic in program design, assume outdoors the field, and buckle all the way down to deal with solely the best workouts.

Body weight coaching has a foul fame for being “lesser than” coaching with free weights, but when you already know what you’re doing and truly push your self with the proper actions, you’ll by no means name body weight coaching “straightforward” once more.

The Brutally Easy Body weight Exercise

If you consider “body weight chest train”, you consider push-ups. You may additionally 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 easy. Do 100 push-ups, regardless of how lengthy it takes. Three to 5 days later, do 100 push-ups once more however get them carried out in much less time. It’s fundamental density coaching — get the identical quantity of labor carried out in much less time or do extra work in the identical period of time.

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

As a result of 100 is a pleasant spherical quantity, that’s the stationary goal and also you’ll deal with shaving down the time every session. Additionally, 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.

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


  • The right way to Do it: Assist your physique in your toes and arms, together with your arms set barely outdoors shoulder-width. Whereas preserving 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 cut back shoulder joint pressure, intention your elbows extra in direction of your toes than your shoulders.
  • Units and Reps: 100 reps whole, damaged down into as many or as few units as needed till completion.
  • Relaxation time: Relaxation as wanted. Begin a timer instantly earlier than starting the primary rep and cease the timer instantly after finishing the final rep. Document the overall time and intention to enhance by one second or extra every exercise.

Finest Chest Exercise for Muscle Mass

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

Chest Day, Finest Day

It is a time-tested, bodybuilding-style strategy to coaching. Attacking a physique half with a number of workouts and totally different angles, taking every set proper as much as muscular failure with high-intensity strategies, and ideally getting a critical pump within the goal muscle by the tip of the session.

Bodybuilder flexing chest and arm muscles
Credit score: 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 as well get a whole higher physique exercise by coaching again instantly earlier than chest or interspersing the workouts as supersets. 


  • The right way to Do it: Start on the prime 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.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 8-12
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

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

  • The right way to Do it: On a pec-deck machine, set the seat so your arms are gripping the handles beneath shoulder top and in-line together with your mid-chest. Carry out every set utilizing the “one and a half rep” approach by decreasing the load right into a full stretch, elevating the load to full contraction, then decreasing the load midway down, bringing it as much as full contraction once more, and eventually decreasing it absolutely. That’s counted as one full rep.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 8-10
  • Relaxation time: No relaxation earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • The right way 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. Bear in mind that the earlier train could have pre-exhausted the chest muscular tissues and so they’re starting this train already fatigued. Select an acceptable weight and use a spotter if attainable.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 8-12
  • Relaxation time: 90 seconds relaxation earlier than returning to the earlier train.

Smith Machine Incline Press

  • The right way to Do it: Place 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. Carry out repetitions easily with no pause at lockout or within the stretch place, bringing the bar to at the least chin-level on the backside.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 12-15
  • Relaxation time: 45 seconds between units.

Finest Chest Exercise For Energy

“How a lot ‘ya bench?” may as nicely be gym-speak for “Hello, how are you?” It’s requested as typically and it’s answered as truthfully. Everybody’s all the time “high-quality, thanks” and everybody all the time benches “round 300.”

Whatever the questionable fame as an ego elevate, the bench press is a real evaluation of higher physique urgent energy. Constructing a robust and highly effective chest is, has, and can all the time be a precedence for many devoted lifters. Right here’s a easy and efficient plan to construct critical urgent energy.

The Greater Bench Plan

A chest-focused energy exercise will, appropriately, be centered across the flat barbell bench press. It’s one of many basic “large three” powerlifts for a motive, 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 score: sportpoint / Shutterstock

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

Plyometric Push-up

  • The right way to Do it: From a fundamental push-up place (arms 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 arms ought to go away the bottom briefly. Catch your self and pause on the prime earlier than performing the subsequent rep.
  • Units and Reps: 5 x 5
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds earlier than transferring to the subsequent train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • The right way 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 decreasing the bar underneath management.
  • Units and Reps: 5 x 3
  • Relaxation time: Three minutes earlier than returning to the primary train.

Ground Press

  • The right way to Do it: Lie on the ground with a bar set in a rack at arms size above your head. Hold 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 load down). Pause with the elbows on the bottom for one second earlier than urgent to full lockout.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 4-6
  • Relaxation time: Three minutes between units.


  • The right way to Do it: Start on the prime 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 in the course of the motion to contain the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Pause briefly earlier than urgent again up. Enhance resistance with a weight belt, weighted vest, or by squeezing a dumbbell between your thighs above your knees.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 6-8
  • Relaxation time: Two minutes between units.

The Chest Muscular tissues

Many lifters design chest exercises with the intention of coaching “all components of the chest”. That strategy can definitely be efficient, nevertheless it first requires realizing precisely what does, and what doesn’t, make up “all components of the chest.” Right here’s a fast and helpful lesson in useful anatomy.

Pectoralis Main

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 beneath the neck. Widespread bodybuilding lore says the physique half is split into the “higher chest”, “mid chest”, “decrease chest”, “inside chest” and “outer chest”, whereas claiming every part could be focused by particular workouts. That is unsuitable. Or at the least, it’s an enormous misinterpretation of how the physique really works.

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

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

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

So, anatomically talking, there’s “the higher chest” and “the remainder of the chest”. Nearly all of workouts will work each heads, whereas inclined workouts prioritize the higher chest, and anybody who talks about focusing on the “inside 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, reminiscent of throughout a push-up or chest press train.

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

Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior is the finger-like cluster of muscular tissues barely beneath the chest, alongside the facet of the ribs. Much like 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 workouts, 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 powerful physique.

A Chest Heat-Up is Important

Irrespective of your objective or coaching plan, a particular chest warm-up will help to enhance total efficiency and cut 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 score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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

The Full Chest Heat-Up Circuit

  • Sluggish Push-up Plus: Carry out a fundamental push-up taking two seconds to decrease your physique and two seconds to press up. When your arms are locked on the prime of every rep, proceed “urgent” to succeed in the shoulder blades in 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 Faucet: From the highest of a push-up place, unfold your toes barely wider for help and alternate touching every shoulder with the other hand. Carry out 10 reps whole, alternating every hand, earlier than transferring instantly 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. Preserving a slight bend in your elbows, pull each arms 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. Carry out 10 reps earlier than repeating the primary train. Do a complete of 4 units of the entire circuit.

Highly effective, Excessive-Efficiency Pecs

Whether or not you wish to bench press a bike, construct a beach-worthy physique, or simply get an important exercise at dwelling or on the highway, you’re now armed with loads of choices to coach what’s arguably the most well-liked physique half within the fitness center. Simply you should definitely comply with a well-designed plan and by no means let your ego write checks your joints can’t money.


  1. Krzysztofik, M., & Wilk, M. (2020). The Results of Plyometric Conditioning on Publish-Activation Bench Press Efficiency. Journal of human kinetics, 74, 99–108. 
  2. G, Parstorfer M. Results of Plyometric Versus Concentric and Eccentric Conditioning Contractions on Higher-Physique Postactivation Potentiation. Int J Sports activities Physiol Carry out. 2017 Jul;12(6):736-741. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0278. Epub 2016 Oct 13. PMID: 27736266.
  3. Clark, Ross A1,3; Humphries, Brendan2; Hohmann, Erik3,4; Bryant, Adam L1 The Affect of Variable Vary of Movement Coaching on Neuromuscular Efficiency and Management of Exterior Masses, Journal of Energy and Conditioning Analysis: March 2011 – Quantity 25 – Difficulty 3 – p 704-711 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c6a0ff
  4. Lauver JD, Cayot TE, Scheuermann BW. Affect 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.
  5. Rodríguez-Ridao, D., Antequera-Vique, J. A., Martín-Fuentes, I., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Impact of 5 Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Exercise of the Pectoralis Main, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii in the course of the Bench Press Train. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being, 17(19), 7339.
  6. Castelein B, Cagnie B, Parlevliet T, Cools A. Serratus anterior or pectoralis minor: Which muscle has the higher hand throughout protraction workouts? Man Ther. 2016 Apr;22:158-64. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.12.002. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PMID: 26749459.

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