The Top 8 Exercises to Build a Chest
There are dozens of exercises you could do on chest day, but you probably don't want to spend your entire day doing them all. You just want to know the best exercises to build your chest. Overall we want to be sure our chest exercises include:
- Ease of learning and performing
- Total muscle stimulation and intensity
- Popularity among top lifters
- Availability of equipment in gyms or at-home gym equipment
In this blog, we will review the chest exercises we think are the best to integrate into your chest days.
note* be sure to warm up your muscles before you begin :)
8 Best Chest Exercises
- 1. BARBELL BENCH PRESS
The bench press is probably the most classic chest exercise out there. Powerlifters do it to see who has the most pressing strength, gym rats use it to build up their pecs, and athletes utilize the bench for explosive pushing power.
HOW TO: "Lay back down on a bench, arch your lower back slightly, and plant your feet on the floor. Pull your shoulder blades together to enhance stability and upper back strength. Grab the bar (varying grips) and squeeze the hand hard to flex the arm and grip muscles maximally. With the load unracked, think about pulling the barbell to the body to touch the sternum/base of the chest. Press the weight upwards, making sure to keep your back tight and shoulder blades pulled together." (Healthline, 2022)
- 2. INCLINE BENCH PRESS
The incline press is kind of a hybrid of an overhead press and flat bench press, and so pressing a barbell from an incline uses more muscle fibres in the upper chest and shoulders than the other presses. It's good to hit different presses to incorporate different areas of muscles in the chest.
3. DECLINE BENCH PRESS
The third major barbell bench press variation focuses on the lower pectoral fibres. This pressing variation is typically less strenuous on your shoulders than the standard bench press because of the shifted shoulder angle.
HOW TO: "Start by securing your feet into a decline bench set up and secure your upper back and hips to the bench (similar to the flat bench press). Unrack the weight and pull the load downwards toward the sternum while keeping the shoulder blades pulled together. Press through the barbell to lock out your elbows. Be sure not to allow the elbows to flare excessively out in the movement" (Healthline, 2022)
- 4. CHEST FLYE
The chest flye can be done with dumbells or on a cable machine. It is a popular bodybuilding exercise to stretch the muscle fibres and pump up the muscles. That pump will help to drive nutrient-rich blood to the target area to help speed up recovery.
- 5. DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
- 6. Push-Up
Do we need to sell you on the push-up? Probably not, but what kind of training resource would we be if we didn’t tell you that the push-up is easier on your joints since you’re not loading them with weight?HOW TO: "Get into a plank position, with your hands underneath your shoulders, back flat, and feet together. Screw your palms into the ground. You should feel your chest tighten. Hold this position, and then slowly lower yourself until your chest is about an inch from the floor. Now, drive back up through the palms of your hands" (Healthline, 2022)
- 7. The Dip
The Dip is another bodyweight gem. Compared to the push-up, which has you on all fours, you’re suspended for the dip, and so your complete bodyweight is in play.HOW TO: "Grab the dip bar firmly and get yourself in the top of the dip position, with your upper back tight and shoulder blades squeezed together. Angle your torso slightly forward and allow your elbows to bend as they slightly tuck inwards towards the sides of the torso. Lower yourself down until your elbows bend at about 90 degrees. When ready, press through the handles and bring your body upright to the top of the dip position.: (Healthline, 2022)
- 8. Cable Iron Cross
The iron cross is a gymnastics classic, but when performed in a cable tree can be great for physique development too. This exercise stretches your chest muscles from the start and takes you through a large range of motion for better chest-building potential.
HOW TO: Set the handles at both ends of the cable machine at the highest level. Stand in the centre with a staggered stance and take hold of both handles. Lean your torso forward keeping your spine neutral, and bend your elbows slightly too. Keeping your core tight, pull both handles down and across your body and squeeze the chest muscles at the end of the movement." (Healthline, 2022)
And there you have it! Our ideal exercises for your chest day. Comment below your faves and which ones you stick to the most on chest day.