Did you join the gym with the dream of getting the perfectly chiseled chest of great personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne Johnson? But after spending months doing the rigorous work on your pectoral muscles aka pecs, all that you have met with is a disappointment. Well, if you are one of those, then the time has come to say goodbye to your dismay. With this article, we bring to you some of the best chest exercises which, if you do the right way, can help you carve the muscular chest you have once dreamt of having.
Before you start working out on your chest, you need to have a basic understanding of its anatomy. Two muscles, namely pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, make up the chest. Being the largest muscles in the chest, these are supported by several smaller muscles including the ones located on the sides of the chest and around the shoulders. To make the work out bear fruits for your chest, you must include a couple of these exercises in your chest workout regime:
- Incline barbell and dumbbell bench press, or incline dumbbell flyes for your upper chest workout.
- Flat barbell and dumbbell bench press or flat dumbbell flyes for your middle chest workout.
- Decline barbell and dumbbell bench press or decline dumbbell flyes for your lower chest workout.
Always consult a trainer to ensure that a good program with proper form is being followed by you. Start with lower weight and gradually make progress to save yourself from injuries. Depending on your goal and level, do the number of reps and sets. Try 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps if you are a new or intermediate lifter and 3-6 sets of 1-12 reps if seasoned lifters of weight at the higher end of your one-rep max for those with the goal of increasing size. To increase strength, try 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps for new or intermediate lifters or 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps for seasoned lifters, of a weight that is around 60-80% of your max. Make sure you rest for 1-2 minutes with more reps and up to 3 minutes for higher weight and lower rep sets.
1. Barbell Bench Press
This is considered to be the best chest workout for which you need a barbell. This allows you to increase strength and generate a lot of power. To do this, settle yourself on a bench with arched back to allow space between the bench and your lower back. Place the bar over your chin or upper chest keeping your elbows and wrists straight. Inhale while gradually lowering the bar until it touches your chest. Then, exhale and push the bar up.
Pushups help in strengthening the chest, arms, and shoulders. But it is very important to do it in the correct form if you want them to work for your body. With your hands under your shoulder, get into the position keeping your entire body straight and core braced. Now, lower your body slowly, keeping elbows near your torso, until your chest touches the floor. Next, lift your body to the pushup position.
3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
This exercise, which involves working on the muscles from different degrees of incline angles, helps to build them thoroughly. Position yourself on an adjustable bench set at a 45O incline. Keeping your arms straight and palms turned towards your feet, hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest. Lower the dumbbells to the level of your chest, and push them back to the initial position.
4. Dips for chest
A great alternative to the decline press, dips for chest work on your pecs. You need parallel bars for this exercise. Begin by holding your body at arm’s length above the bars. While inhaling, bring your body down gradually with torso bending forward around 300 and elbows expanded slightly. The moment you feel the stretch in your chest, use your chest to bring the body back to the initial position while exhaling.
5. Bent Forward Cable Crossover
To start this exercise, position yourself between two cable stations and grasp the handles with arms straightened out and facing inward. Keep your hands below your shoulders and elbows bent. Now, bring your hands together out in front of your chest and extend your arms. Then, bring your arms back to the starting position with control.
6. Pec Deck
A great exercise that doesn’t need you to balance any weights, pec deck activates your pectoralis major in the same way as bench press does. Begin by keeping your feet flat on the floor, at least shoulder-width apart. Now, lift your arms until they reach the level of your shoulder with your back firmly against the seat. Position your elbows on the center of the pad on the wings of the machine. Smoothly and slowly, push the wings together and halt just before they touch. Go back to the initial position slowly.