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The Best Chest Exercises to Include in Your Workout

10 Chest Exercises

Most people adore a well-sculpted, broad framed chest and spend innumerable hours hitting the gym to get that perfect shape. A well-built chest is not only impressive but is strong enough to push heavy objects such as a barbell to massive cars. 

There are many exercises that can help you build a genuinely spectacular chest. In addition, chest exercises can build your shoulders and triceps as well.

Major Chest Muscles

Before jumping on to chest exercises, let us first learn about the major chest muscles.

Pectoralis Major:

The Pectoralis major makes up most of your chest muscle mass. It is large and fan-shaped and is composed of a sternocostal head and a clavicular head.

Pectoralis Minor:

The Pectoralis minor lies underneath the Pectoralis major. It helps to pull the shoulder forward and down.

Warm-Up Those Muscles

Before performing any exercise or workout regime, it is imperative to prepare your body. A good warm-up is essential to avoid any accidental injuries during the workout. A thorough warm up also ensures lesser soreness in your muscles the next day.

You need to perform a full-body warm-up before beginning your chest exercises. Begin with 5-7 minutes of some low-intensity cardio. Follow it with freehand exercises. Now, move on to specific warm-up exercises to the workout you are about to perform. 

The process of warming up your muscles before the workout ensures no injuries during or post the workout. Therefore, warm-up is crucial, and you should never skip it.

The Best Chest Exercises You Should Try

Getting a strong, broad chest is not an easy task. It takes time, patience and a lot of determination. These chest exercises will help you develop those Pecs in no time. However, never overwork your muscles. To gain more in a short time, people often end up overdoing the exercises. 

Besides being over-exhausted and losing momentum in a few days, the muscles tire easily, ultimately harming the body. So, keeping all these pointers in mind, let us get on with some of the best chest exercises.

1. Push-Ups

Push-ups are one of the best chest exercises, and you can do them just about anywhere. They effectively build upper body strength. They also strengthen your triceps, shoulders, lower back, and abdominal muscles. The steps to execute this exercise is:

  • Get in a push up position with your hands kept slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lower your chest towards the floor by bending the elbows. Pause at the bottom for a second and then push back up to the starting position.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

2. Medicine Ball Push up

This exercise targets your chest, shoulder and triceps. In addition to being a chest exercise, this push-up variation also improves your  core stability. The steps to perform this is:

  • Start in a push-up position with your right hand on the floor and your left hand on the medicine ball.
  • Lower your body towards the floor until it’s about an inch away. Then, press up.
  • While in that position, shift the ball from your left hand to your right hand and repeat the push up movement.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

3. Dumbbell Squeeze Press

Dumbbell squeeze press builds strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It’s a favourite amongst bodybuilders. The steps to execute this exercise are given below: 

  • Lie down on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hold the dumbbells together with a neutral grip and begin with your arms straight, directly above you.
  • Next, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells directly above your chest.
  • Pause and then push the dumbbells up by straightening the elbows.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

4. Incline Barbell Bench Press

Incline barbell bench press works on your upper chest muscles. The steps to perform this exercise are as follows:

  • Lie down on a bench set to an incline angle. Hold the barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width apart grip. Lift the barbell off the rack and hold it straight above your chest. 
  • Slowly bring the barbell down onto your chest by bending the elbows.
  • Pause and then push the barbell back up by extending the elbows.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

5. Incline Dumbbell Alternating Bench Press

Incline dumbbell alternating bench press works on your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It increases resistance on the upper chest due to the incline angle. In addition, the alternating motion guarantees that both sides strengthen equally. The steps for this exercise is:

  • Lie down on a bench set to a 45-degree angle and lift the dumbbells. Hold it over your chest with palms facing away from you.
  • Slowly lower one dumbbell by bending the elbow, then drive it up and squeeze your chest at the top.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.

6. Chest Dips

Chest dips work your entire upper body, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps. They build your chest muscles faster than push-ups. The steps for this exercise is:

  • Get on a dip station with arms straight and elbows tucked against the sides of your body.
  • Slowly lower yourself by bending the elbows, Make sure not to flare out the elbows.
  • Drive yourself back up to the top position and repeat.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

7. Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

Close-grip barbell bench press places less strain on your shoulders, shifting the emphasis to your triceps and chest muscles. The steps to execute this exercise is:

  • Lie down on a flat bench holding a barbell with a narrow, overhand grip.
  • Breathe in and lower the bar slowly until it touches your chest. 
  • Push the bar back up to the starting position as you breathe out and repeat
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

8. Plate Press-Out

This exercise targets your chest and shoulders, and promotes greater strength, growth, and endurance since you have to contract your muscles throughout. In addition, compared to other exercises, it puts less pressure on your shoulders and elbows. The steps for this exercise is:

  • Grip a weight plate between your palms and hold it close to your chest.
  • Squeeze your chest and shoulders and push the weight plate away by extending the elbows straight. 
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

9. High pulley Cable Crossover

High pulley Cable crossover targets your lower chest muscles. It also provides constant tension throughout the  movement. The steps to perform this exercise is:

  • Attach stirrup handles to the high pulleys of a cable crossover machine.
  • Hold one handle in each hand – your arms should be outstretched with a slight bend in the elbows.
  • Place one foot slightly forward, brace your core, and pull the handles downward and across your body.
  • Return to the start position under control.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

10. Low Pulley Cable Crossover

This exercise targets your upper chest muscles. It works to stretch the pecs from the starting position to hit the outer pec muscle fibres. The secondary muscle involved in this exercise is the anterior deltoid. The steps for this exercise is:

  • Set the handles at the bottom position of the machine and grab it with your palms facing up.
  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, your back straight, chest up, and  arms down and slightly bent at the elbows. 
  • Bring both handles up and forward to the eye level before slowly returning to the starting position.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

11. Machine Pec Fly

This exercise targets your pectoralis muscles and increases chest strength and muscle mass. Since you perform this exercise while seated, it’s excellent for beginners to practice good posture and form. It’s also helpful for people who need to avoid standing due to a lower-body injury. The steps to perform this exercise is:

  • Sit on the machine and grab the handles with palms facing front and elbows, slightly bent.
  • Push the handles together and bring them in front of your chest.
  • Pause for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

12. Dumbbell Pullover

This exercise targets your chest muscles (pectoralis major), the muscles of your mid-to-lower back (latissimus dorsi), your core muscles, and your triceps. It also helps to increase flexibility in your chest and upper body. The steps to execute this is: 

  • Sit at the end of a bench with your feet kept firmly on the floor. .  Lie down on the bench with your head, neck, and back kept firmly supported. 
  • Hold a dumbbell in both hands, and hold it over your chest. Make sure the elbows are kept slightly bent 
  • Inhale, and extend your arms back and below your head. Keep your back and core tight while doing this
  • Exhale, and slowly return to the starting position.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

13. Landmine Chest Press

It is an excellent exercise which is easier on the joints but offers more shoulder mobility. In addition to building chest muscle, it also activates your triceps, deltoids and core muscles. The steps for this exercise is:

  • Load  weight plates onto one end of  a barbell which is anchored at the other end. 
  • Stand with  feet kept shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bend and lift the weighted end of the barbell with both hands  and hold it  in front of your chest.
  • Exhale and push the barbell away by extending the elbows straight.
  • Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
  • You can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Who Can Do These Chest Exercises?

All of the above chest exercises are for those  who are in the intermediate level of their training and wish to build a muscular chest. You can adjust the intensity of the exercises by either increasing or decreasing the weights used or by adjusting the number of reps performed.

Diet for Stronger Chest

Exercises and workouts are half the battle won; the other half depends on the food you eat. Diet plays a significant role in building muscles, shedding weight and toning your body. Hence, a well-rounded diet rich in protein accompanied by good chest exercises will help you build a broad, and muscular chest 

Dietary guidelines suggest that you eat a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. But to build muscle, you will have to increase the intake to 1.5 – 2.0 grams per kg of body weight. For example, if you weigh 80 kg, you need to consume 120 – 160 grams of protein per day. Foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, lentils, milk, cheese, and curd,  etc., are rich in proteins. So, include them in your daily diet.

Conclusion

A mix of dynamic chest workouts can help you achieve your desired chest shape. Try different chest exercises and select three or four that best suits your body. However, do not overexert yourself to achieve something unrealistic.

Set realistic and achievable goals. Keep your body, age, stamina and strength in mind. Supplement your workout with a protein-rich diet to repair and rebuild your muscles. Always do a good warm-up before performing any exercise and stretch post the workout to avoid injuries.

Also, chest exercises with weights, other props and dumbbells are not only meant for males. Women need to develop strong chest muscles too. Hence, these exercises are for all. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the major chest muscles?

A. Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor. The Pectoralis major makes up most of your chest muscle mass. It is large and fan-shaped and is composed of a sternocostal head and a clavicular head. The Pectoralis minor lies underneath the Pectoralis major. Its job is to help pull the shoulder forward and down.

Q. Is warm up important?

A. Before performing any exercise or workout, it is imperative to prepare your body. A good warm-up is essential to avoid any injuries during the workout. A thorough warm-up also ensures lesser soreness in your muscles the next day.

Q. Does diet play a role in achieving the desired body results?

A. Diet plays a significant role in building muscles, shedding weight, and toning your body. Hence, a well-rounded diet rich in protein will help you to achieve desired results.

Q. Who all can perform these chest exercises?

A. Anybody who is at the intermediate level of their training can perform these exercises.

Q. What is the most effective chest exercise?

A. No single exercise can be categorised as the most effective chest exercise. You need to keep changing your exercises once in 4-6 weeks to get the most benefits out of a workout

Q. How should I start my chest workout?

A. Every chest workout should start with a warm-up. It prevents your body from sustaining any injuries during and post-workout. 

Q. What exercises work the chest at home?

A. To work the chest at home, you can do Incline push ups, Push-ups,  Decline push ups, and Plyometric Push-ups (jumping push-ups),

Q. How can I bulk up my chest?

A. A combination of 3-4 chest exercises with a high calorie protein-rich diet will help 

Q. Do pushups work the chest?

A. Yes, push-ups work the chest. It’s one of the best bodyweight exercises to do

Q. Will 200 pushups a day do anything?

A. Yes, it can help build your strength and stamina for the first 4-6 weeks, But it is not really recommended to do push ups everyday. Any worked muscle would require at least 48 hrs to recover and rebuild.

Q. Why is my chest not growing?

A. A few possible reasons why your chest isn’t growing include: not warming up pre-workout, not lifting heavy enough, going through exercises too quickly, and not resting enough.

Q. How long does it take to build chest muscle?

A. A minimum of 2-3 months is required to see any chest muscle gains. 

Q. What should I eat to build chest muscle?

A. A protein-rich diet is necessary to build chest muscles. It includes chicken, fish, lean beef, egg whites, etc.

Q. How can I build my chest without push-ups?

A. You can choose any 3-4 exercises from the given list and train at least twice a week  to build your chest muscles. 

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