The Top 10 Exercises For A Big Chest

A well-defined chest can be a desirable physical feature noticeable in any clothing type, whether a t-shirt or a puffer jacket. If you have worked hard to build your chest muscles to a level similar to actor Dwayne Johnson, you likely also have impressive pressing strength. If you have yet quite to get there, do not panic. We have compiled a list of 10 practical chest exercises that can help improve the appearance and strength of your chest muscles. We have also included some tips on properly training your chest. Follow our guidance and start lifting some weights to achieve your desired results.

Our chosen best chest exercises:

  • 1. Barbell Flat Bench Press
  • 2. Barbell Incline Bench Press
  • 3. Barbell Decline Bench Press
  • 4. Push-Up
  • 5. Chest flye
  • 6. Cable iron cross
  • 7. Svend press
  • 8. Chaos Push-Up
  • 9. Dip
  • 10. Dumbbell bench press

1. Barbell Flat Bench Press:

The bench press is popular among powerlifters, gym-goers, and athletes. It is a great way to build up strength and size in the chest muscles and should be included in your workout routine. Not just size, you will also look great! The bench press is valuable whether you want to see how much pressing strength you have, build up your pecs or develop superhuman pushing power. At Shapeshift, we would say it is our favourite because it is excellent for beginners, also.

Benefits of the bench press:

  • The bench press is a compound exercise with multiple muscle groups and joints. It primarily works your pecs and secondary muscles, including the shoulders, triceps, and shoulder joints. That means you will build a muscular torso too!
  • The bench press will increase bone density because it is a compound movement, a functional one like a squat or a deadlift. As we age, our bone density declines and becomes fragile, which can cause diseases such as Osteoporosis; including bench presses ( a compound movement) can improve bone density massively and even reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Compared to other chest exercises, you can add a lot more weight. A lot more weight means more gains for you!

How to perform bench press:

To perform the bench press, you want to lay flat on your back, ensuring you are comfortable, and, arch your back slightly, have your feet solidly planted to the floor. Then pull your shoulder blades together for upper back strength and stability, grab the bar ( can have a varied version of grips), and squeeze the hand so it flexes the arm; once the bar is unracked, pull the bar to the body and touch the sternum and base of the chest, then press the weight upwards, be aware of keeping you back tight and shoulder blades pulled together.

2 . Barbell Incline Bench Press:

The incline bench press is a hybrid between an overhead press and a flat bench press, pressing a barbell, or you can use a pair of dumbbells and even kettlebells from an incline. This will use more muscle fibers in the upper chest muscles and tax the shoulders; strongmen like to use the pressing technique because it has carryover to log presses and axle bar presses.

Barbell Incline Bench Press benefits:

  • It will activate the upper chest more compared to the flat press variations.
  • It will activate the shoulders more because it is comparable to a shoulder press.
  • It will strengthen the deltoids as well.

How to perform the incline bench press:

To perform the incline bench press, you first want to have a workout bench, then adjust it so it is at a 45-degree angle and set up similarly to how you would need a flat bench press, once set pull the weight downwards so it is in line with the upper chest making it a few inches below the clavicle, once again the shoulder blades pulled together, elbows angled at 45 degrees, then push the barbell upward.

3. Decline Bench Press:

The barbell bench press exercise’s third version targets the lower part of your chest muscles. This particular variation of the movement puts less strain on your shoulders than the regular bench press due to the shift in the angle.

Benefits of the Decline bench press

  • This exercise will have a much more significant impact on the lower pectoral fibres.
  • Less strain on the shoulders because of the angle you will be lifting.

How to perform the Decline bench press:

To start this exercise, position yourself on a decline bench and ensure your feet are securely in place. You should also secure your upper back and hips to the bar, as you would during a flat bench press. Once the weight is in position, pull it down towards your sternum while keeping your shoulder blades close together; when you are ready, press through the barbell until your elbows are fully extended. Avoid letting your elbows flare out too much during the exercise, as this will be incorrect.

4. Push Up:

Do we need to convince you of the benefits of push-ups? As a training resource, it’s important to mention that push-ups are easier on your joints since they don’t involve any added weight, just you and your body! Obviously, and since they’re relatively safe, you can do a lot of push-ups in a row to increase volume and promote muscle growth.

Benefits of the push up:

  • Push-ups have many benefits, and it is excellent because, as we said, it is just you and your body! They target multiple muscle groups, increase upper body strength, and are versatile and convenient long as you have a flat floor surface and space.
  • The body will not be under as much stress.
  • You can do a lot more, so you will build muscle over time.

How to perform a pushup:

You start by getting into a plank position and have your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground to perform a push-up. Your feet should be close together, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Lower your body towards the ground, and bend your elbows also, keeping them close to your body. As you lower yourself, keep your core engaged and your body straight. Once your chest is a few inches from the ground, you must push yourself back to the position you started by straightening your arms. Repeat this motion for the desired number of reps.

5. Chest Flye:

The chest flye is an excellent bodybuilding exercise that can be done with dumbbells or on a cable machine. It stretches all the muscle fibres and helps to give your muscles a pump, which can drive nutrient-rich blood to the target area and aid in recovery; you should try this and see the benefits for yourself!

Benefits of the Chest flye:

  • The movement can be done in different ways, either with a cable machine, kettlebells, or dumbbells.
  • A movement of the chest flye stretch can be done by having a lightweight and extending the arms; this will pump the area with nutrient-stacked blood!
  • This movement will force you to stabilize the dumbbells giving you better coordination.

How to perform the chest flye:

To do a chest flye, start by lying back on a bench; you can use a flat, decline, or incline bench, which is good because it can be what you prefer. Take a dumbbell in each hand, hold them at your sides, and slightly bend your elbows. Slowly and with control, lower your arms out to the sides. To engage your chest muscles, reverse the motion like hugging a lampost. This exercise is excellent for stretching and pumping up your chest muscles.

6. Cable Iron Cross:

The iron cross is a classic gymnastics move that can also benefit physique development massively when performed on a cable tree. It stretches your chest muscles, allowing for a large range of motion to help improve the potential for building your chest muscles.

Benefits of the cable iron cross:

  • This move will allow you to reach the lower chest area more efficiently, giving you a better definition.
  • It will keep the muscle tension, allowing better muscle building.
  • With dumbbells, this may not allow as extensive a range of motion as the cable.

How to perform the cable iron cross:

To perform this exercise, you will need a cable machine… set the handles at the highest level on both ends of the device, stand in the centre with one foot in front of the other, and then grab both handles firmly; make sure you have it set on a weight you can handle. Lean your torso forward while keeping your spine neutral, and bend your elbows slightly. Keep your core tight as you can, and pull both handles down and across your body, squeezing your chest muscles as the movement ends. This exercise is great for targeting and strengthening your chest muscles – and ps this will give you an unreal pump.

7. Svend Press:

This is probably not the most attractive-looking exercise, but it will burn. You must squeeze the weight tightly and engage your pecs to avoid dropping weights to your toes and feeling even more pain!

Benefits of the Svend press:

  • A movement that will be so highly occupied, so no more waiting for those bench press sets…
  • Combining the press and squeeze will give your muscle much time under tension for a major pump and great muscular hypertrophy.

How to perform the Svend press:

Such as five or 10-pound plates; it is not all about the weight ( wink wink). Then Hold the plates in front of your body with your arms extended and your palms facing each other. Pinch the plates together firmly with plenty of tension, and do not allow them to slip apart. Next, pull the plates towards your sternum, ensuring you keep your chest lifted and shoulder blades pulled together. Flex your chest muscles and then press the weights back outwards. Make sure to keep the plates pushed together and engage your inner chest muscles throughout the entire movement.

8. Chaos Push-Up:

Not only weights and your body but resistance bands are fantastic for building your chest too; this will be done by looping a heavy band around a squat rack; this is good as well because you can perform many exercises, including the chaos push up as mentioned in the heading, the band utilizes your stabilizing muscles while doing the pushup.

Benefits of the chaos push-up:

  • You will spend much more time under tension during this movement meaning more core strength.
  • They will activate the muscles, including the core, shoulder, and hips.
  • additional rotator cuff movement will be used because of the instability of the push-up.

How to perform the chaos push-up:

You will, first of all, need a heavy-duty band and a squat rack; next, you will need to loop the band around the squat rack and adjust the height to the level of difficulty you would like to choose, remember a higher position will make the movement easier and the lower will make it more difficult. Then place your hands on the band with a shoulder-width grip and grip tightly, step back with your legs and engage your glutes and core muscles, slowly lower your body into a push-up position, then push against the band to complete the repetition.

9. Dips:

The dip is one of our favourites here at Shapeshift. Also, compared to the push-up, which will have you on all fours, you are suspended in the air for the dip, meaning your complete body weight is in the mix; you will also really get your triceps involved; they are most of the time used in pressing movements so working them alongside chest will help muscle unison.

Benefits of the Dip:

  • You will use 100% of your body weight, which is way more than during a pushup.
  • You will strengthen your triceps alongside your pecs; both are key for pressing movements.
  • You can add weight if your body weight is not enough making you even stronger.

How to perform the dip:

You will need to start by firmly holding the grip dip bar and positioning yourself at the top of the dip. Ensure you keep your upper back tight and your shoulder blades squeezed together. Next, angle your torso forward slightly and allow your elbows to bend inward towards the sides of your torso, lower yourself, making sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle; when you are ready, press through the handles and return to the top of the dipping position

10. Dumbbell Bench Press:

So the dumbbell bench press does not allow you to go as heavy as its friend, the barbell counterpart, but on the other hand, there is a lot to love about this move. Firstly you will be controlling two dumbbells which will work your pecs and the smaller muscles around them, like your shoulder joints, differently than the bench press would; if you have a weaker side, then this move allows either side to catch up to one another if you are a person that suffers from shoulder and elbow pain using the dumbbells lets you manipulate your grip and the angle of your arm to find a position that is more comfortable for you.

Benefits of the dumbbell bench press:

  • Finding a pressing position that suits you is much easier, making it comfier when you exercise.
  • You will gain much more joint and muscle stabilization from lifting two dumbbells.
  • The weaker side will have to catch up.

How to perform the dumbbell press:

To start this exercise, sit on a flat bench and pick up the pair of weights you have chosen in front of you, place the weights on your knees, and get into a comfortable position. After lean back and use your knees to carefully drive the dumbbells towards your chest, simultaneously pressing the weights up and over your chest, then lower the weights making sure to keep your elbows tucked in at a 45-degree angle until they reach a 90-degree angle, once complete push the dumbbell back up with the strength you have left! Also, you can try turning your palms to face one another and pressing from the neutral position.

How Often Should You Train Your Chest?:

When it comes to training, there is no one size fits. Shall we say the frequency of your chest workouts will depend on many factors, including your age and experience in strength training, and consider the size and strength of the muscles involved. The chest is a large muscle group that requires more training than the shoulders and arms.

  • For the advanced lifters out there: 16 – 20 sets.
  • For intermediate lifters – 14 – 15 sets.
  • For the beginners – 10 -12 sets weekly.

The way you may split this will determine your chest training frequency. If you are a bodybuilder, training the chest muscles once a week, then 20 sets will be too much for a single session, but if you are following a full body split, six sets per session three times a week will equal a full 18 sets, but you will have less fatigue per workout…

How to advance your chest training:

When it comes to getting bigger and stronger, it is vital to keep challenging your muscles by adding more weight or reps to your chest routine, yes, this may sound simple, but those who have been working out for even a short period know that it can be challenging! To ensure you keep making progress, it is great to get creative with your training and try out new methods; for the strength, you can increase the weight until you can no longer complete the desired amount of reps, or if you prefer, you can add an extra rep to each set per session until the point you can’t perform the increased reps with the weight you have chosen, mixing up training strategies is very effective.

Also, consider incorporating techniques such as drop sets, pause reps, and tempo training to increase the time your muscles are under tension; in turn, this will encourage growth, for endurance try pre-exhausting your pecs by doing some flys before with lighter weights and higher reps, you can also do this with the bench press.

Combine these methods for maximum results, such as adding pause reps to your training, but change one variable at a time to avoid overtraining…

How to warm up your chest:

Starting with a good warm-up can be a game changer, making your typical workout unforgettable. To maximise your chest session, you must prepare the chest muscles for contraction and ensure your elbows, wrists, and shoulders are ready to push those weights. We suggest you perform an upper back movement that you find comfortable to activate your scapula, like rear delt flys or band pull-parts. After a few light sets of the exercise, you will perform first, focusing on the muscle’s engagement and contraction.

For example:

  • Scapular Push-Up: 2 x 10
  • Push-ups – 3 x 5 or 10, whatever you prefer.
  • Band pull apart 2 x 10-20
  • Back warm-ups focused warm-ups are of focus because your lats stabilize your chest exercises to keep your shoulders safe; you will need to prepare your back for chest day too.

Get after it!

There are plenty of chest workouts to choose from if your goal is to increase muscle size, get stronger, have a great pump, or even get a new personal best! Remember, paying close attention to your form is crucial, and being smart with progressive overload is critical for building the chest you desire to have.

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