Building a muscular chest is on the agenda of most gym goers. The problem is unless you have amazing genetics, it is often hard to develop a thick and muscular chest that pops out when wearing a t-shirt.
In this article, we will be going over three chest exercises that will help you boost your chest growth, but before we get to that, it is essential to understand the anatomy of the chest.
The chest (pectorals) is made up of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. To build up your chest, you need to target both the pectoralis major and minor when exercising.
There are many different chest exercises you can do, but we are going to make it simple for you and list some of our favourite ones.
#1 - Incline Barbell Bench Press
While the traditional bench press works well and is the most popular of all chest exercises, nothing builds the upper part of the pectoral muscles better than the incline bench press. The upper part of the chest is often neglected and can be hard to build. For this reason, it is a good idea to start your chest workout with this exercise while your muscles are still fresh; this will allow you to perform the incline bench press at your maximum strength.
How to do an incline barbell bench press:
- Set the bench to an incline angle and load the appropriate weight onto the bar.
- Lie down on the bench with your feet on the ground.
- Grab the bar with a wide grip (just outside of shoulder width).
- Arch your back slightly and your squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Lift the barbell off the rack.
- Take a deep breath and lower the barbell to the lower part of your chest (around the nipple area).
- Once the barbell has touched your chest, breathe out and push it back up to the starting position.
When performing this exercise, make sure not to bounce the bar off your chest. Always perform this exercise with a spotter to avoid any risk of injury.
#2 - Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
When performing a bench press with dumbbells each side of your body needs to work independently, this activates stabilizing muscles. If it is your first time doing a dumbbell bench press, you may find it hard to keep the weights balanced. However, as the stabilizing muscles get stronger, it will become easier to control the dumbbells.
In a recent study, 19 healthy males with prior weight lifting experience performed three different chest workouts. While the study showed many different things, it also revealed that the dumbbell bench press activated the pectoral muscles more than when compared to a barbell bench press (1).
How to do a flat dumbbell bench press:
- Set the bench to the flat position and sit on the end of it with the dumbbells resting on your thighs.
- Lower yourself down onto the bench while bringing the dumbbells to your chest.
- Rotate the Dumbbells so that your palms are facing away from you and place the dumbbells shoulder width apart.
- You are now ready to perform the exercise. Push the dumbbells up and straighten your arms but do not lock your elbows. Squeeze your chest muscles at the top of the lift.
- Take a deep breath and slowly bring the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
#3 - Dips
Dips are usually seen as a triceps exercise; however, by changing the angle of your body when doing a dip, you can use this exercise to help build an impressive set of pecs.
How to perform dips for your chest:
- First, you will need to locate the parallel bars in your gym. Grab and hold your body above the bars with your arms extended (do not lock your elbows).
- Lean your upper body forward, breath in and slowly lower yourself down until you feel your chest muscles stretching.
- Once you feel your chest muscles stretching, push yourself back up to the starting position. While pushing yourself back up, be sure to concentrate on using only the chest muscles to perform the movement.
- Squeeze your chest muscles at the top of the movement and repeat the exercise.
If you find the exercise too easy to perform, you can make it harder by using a weight belt and adding additional weights.
When doing any exercise, always make sure to use the correct form and a weight that you can handle. By using weights that are too heavy, not only do you risk getting injured but you will also slow down the results.
If you are unsure on how to perform a particular exercise correctly, a simple search on youtube will provide you with multiple video tutorials.