Want to build a great chest? Get in line! Want to know how to do it? Good news! We have got all the info you need to know to build yourself that killer chest. You’re welcome!
I’m sure you know a lot about ways to build up your chest muscles if you have been lifting for a while, but there is no shame in learning more about it and trying something new that may get you there a bit faster. Whether you are a man or a woman, a massive chest workout can really improve your physique and benefit you in many more ways than you may think. Take a look at the plan and see what you think.
Take a look at the plan and see what you think.
All The Muscles OF The Chest And What They Do
Your chest is part of a bigger group of pushing muscles. These muscles allow you to perform exercises such as the bench press and daily activities such as pushing furniture across the floor or even pushing your friend’s broken down car down the road. After all, we know you really are that nice!
The chest is made up of the following muscles:
This is a large fan-shaped muscle that covers the area from your collarbone (clavicle) to your upper arm bone (humerus), sternum (center chest bone) and ribs. It is the largest of the chest muscles and assists in flexing your shoulder joint and also moving the arm across and towards your chest.
This is a thinner and triangle-shaped muscle that is found just under the pectoralis major. It attaches to the middle section of your ribs and to the scapula (shoulder blade). Its job is to pull your shoulder forward and in a downward direction as well.
This muscle isn’t technically part of your chest, but it is often grouped together with the chest muscle because of its location, which is very near the pectoral muscles on the ribs.
Its job is to move the scapula (shoulder blade) forward and in an upward direction.
This Is Why It’s Important To Have A Strong Chest
Do not kid yourself! A nice built up chest does not just look appealing to the eye. There are, in fact, many other benefits to strengthening and training the muscles of your chest.
It Makes Daily Tasks Easier
As mentioned, a strong chest will help you with any kind of pushing activities that you may perform in your home life or on the job. This includes things like mowing the lawn with a push mower, sliding heaving objects across a surface, pushing carts and more.
It Improves Your Posture
Having a strong chest can improve your posture by balancing your muscularity. If you mainly train your back and tend to neglect your chest, this can offset balance and even cause injury. Do not let that happen.
It Improves Your Shoulders
Ask any boxer. They will gladly tell you that they can pack a more powerful punch because of chest training. Having strong pecs gives you more power and precision behind any swinging motion and that is a fact.
These Are The Best Chest Exercises You Can Do
There are more than a few chest exercises out there that work great at targeting your pecs. Let’s narrow it down to the best ones and why they are so effective.
Barbell Bench Press
I’m sure you knew this beauty would be on the list.
Why wouldn’t it be?
The truth is that it’s on this list because it is proven effective, efficient and just plain awesome for the chest muscles. This exercise allows you to use an enormous amount of weight against your chest muscles. Though it is not strictly a chest exercise, as your shoulders and triceps are also involved in a big way, it still gives you an extreme amount of power output in your chest.
This Is How To Do It
Even if you are a gym novice, chances are, you have seen this one before. Do not let that trick you into thinking it is easy. If you have never done a bench press before, start with an empty bar to get the feel for it. Slowly increase the weight and be sure to have a spotter nearby if you are going heavy.
Lie on your back on a flat bench. Your eyes should be just under the bar and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades. Grab the bar at a medium grip-width, with the bar in the base of your palms and your wrists straight.
Lift the bar by straightening your arms, moving it just above your shoulders and locking out your elbows. Slowly lower the bar to the middle of your chest. Tuck your elbows and keep your forearms vertical. Push the bar back up to the top, lock out your elbows and be sure to keep your butt on the bench the entire time.
Seated Machine Chest Press
If you are not much of a machine person, then that is okay. With that being said, this one has some good science behind it. The machine chest press is on my list because it almost directly targets the pectoral muscles and recruits very little of the three sections of the delts compared to the free-weight variations. This press also allows you to slow down your reps while doing both the concentric and eccentric actions, which will keep the muscles under tension longer.
This Is How To Do It
Sit at the machine with your back pressed against the seat and your feet flat. Grab onto the handles with a palms-down grip. Raise your upper arms so that they are parallel to the floor. Bring the handles back towards your body and take a deep breath.
Engage your pecs and push the handles away from you as you exhale. Hold the contraction for a second and then return to the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Press
By using an incline bench and changing gravity a bit, this will allow you to work more angles of the pectoral muscles. Also, with a dumbbell in each hand in this position, you are incorporating more stabilizing muscles. This exercise works your shoulders and triceps as well. The incline dumbbell press is definitely an efficient way to work your pecs and it also allows for the rotation of the dumbbells to add a bit more of a challenge once you have mastered it.
This Is How To Do It
Start with an angle and weight that is comfortable for you and will allow you to complete the reps with good form. Lie back on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor.
Raise the dumbbells while keeping them shoulder-width apart, elbows locked out and rotate the dumbbells so that your palms are facing away from you. Slowly lower the weight down to your chest, engage and raise them back up to lock the elbows out again. Once you have reached the top, hold for a second then repeat the whole process.
Incline Bench Cable Flyes
This is an excellent exercise to set the pecs on fire!
The reason is because, with a cable machine, you are able to keep the muscles under tension the entire time. Bonus: With this exercise, your shoulder muscles are also going to be incorporated. It’s also great for a lower chest workout.
This Is How To Do It
Be sure to choose a weight that will allow you to perform this exercise for the full range of motion, from bottom to top.
The main reason is because there will be tension throughout the entire exercise. Set the pulleys to floor level and adjust your incline bench to about a 45-degree angle. Lie back on the bench and grab the handles with a palms-up grip. Bring your hands together at arms length and just over your chest. This is your starting position.
Slightly bend at the elbows and lower your arms out to both sides until you feel a stretch across your chest. Raise your arms back up to the starting position while engaging your pecs. Be sure to keep the breath going throughout the exercise. Know you know how to do cable flys.
Wide Set Push-Ups
The push-up has always been a great way to work on those chest muscles, but your traditional push-up puts much of the load on the triceps and more for a chest and tri workout. With the wide set push-up, this will allow more of the load to focus on the pecs just by changing the placement of your hands.
This Is How To Do It
No equipment is necessary for this exercise and that is one of the reasons I love it. Find yourself an area to drop down and let’s go! Start by lying face down on the floor with your toes tucked under your feet and your palms on the floor set a bit wider than your shoulders. Keep your back straight, hips square and body in line.
Engage the core and push off of the floor. Lift your body until your arms are straight. Slowly lower yourself back down until your chest almost touches the floor and then repeat.
Putting It All Together For A Killer Chest Workout
I’m going to give you two different workouts here. One is a higher rep, lighter weight for your typical chest workout, but with my favorite, awesome, effective exercises. The other is going to be your heavy sets with a lower rep count for the ultimate deep strength workout. Be sure to begin each workout session with a good warm-up and some dynamic stretching.
Workout #1 (Light)
Seated Machine Chest Press- 4 sets X 12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press- 4 sets X 12 reps
Incline Bench Cable Flye- 3 Sets X 12 reps
Wide Set Push-Up- 4 Sets X 12 reps
Workout #2 (Heavy)
Barbell Bench Press- 4 Sets X 6 Reps
Seated Machine Press- 4 Sets X 6 Reps
Incline Bench Cable Flye- 4 Sets X 6 Reps
Incline Dumbbell Press- 4 Sets X 6 Reps
If you are working your chest two days or more per week, I would suggest that you alternate between these heavy and light workouts for best results. Keeping a good variety really challenges your muscles to change and grow. Always mix it up and keep advancing gradually with the weight to get stronger, leaner and more built in your chest area.
On the lighter days, be sure to choose a weight that will allow you to complete each rep fully and with good form, bringing yourself to failure by the last rep. If you feel like you can keep going after the last rep, your weight may be a bit too light, so do not be afraid to make adjustments until it feels right.
The same goes with your heavy days. You should not be able to complete more than the six reps that are recommended. If you can’t quite complete the six reps with full range of motion and good form, then your weight is too heavy. Make adjustments and keep going.
After you have completed your workout, be sure to get your stretching in. Gaining flexibility across your chest is important and will allow you to perform each chest exercise at the full range of motion and without increasing the chance of injury or inhibition. This will also give your muscles a quicker recovery and lessen muscle soreness the following day.
Be sure to protein it up afterwards and stick to a plan you know you can follow and fully commit to. If you are faithful to your workouts, the results will come and you will be happy that you did not give up.
By Heather Neff, CPT