Sculpting a well-developed and strong looking chest is one of the principal goals of almost every gym-going man. Enter any gym, and there’s a good chance that every pec-fly machine, adjustable bench and cable machine is already in use, with at least one dude waiting to use it next. Let’s just say that in most workout routines, the chest never goes underworked.
However, pumping out 50 pec-flyes a session may not be enough to carve out the chest of your dreams. If you’ve been hitting the gym consistently and still find that your pecs are looking a bit deflated, it may be because you’re not working them to their full potential. Here, we’ll discuss a little about the anatomy of the chest, as well as the different exercises and workouts you can incorporate into your routine to better pump up your chest.
Before getting into the different exercise and workouts you can use to better target your chest, it’s important to understand the muscles that you’re targeting.
The chest is made up of two different muscles: the pectoralis major, and the pectoralis minor. While both muscles are important for everyday function, the pectoralis major is the big muscle that we see and is most important for aesthetic purposes.
The pectoralis major can further be split into two sub-sections: the clavicular head, or upper chest, and the sternal head, or lower chest. To really develop a balanced looking chest, you need to target both areas separately as well as together. Focusing on only one area may be why your chest isn’t as full as it could be.
Another important muscle group involving the chest isn’t on your chest at all. Posture and a well-developed back are equally important, as slouching and rounded shoulders will hide much of your progress. Working on keeping your shoulders back and improving the muscles in your back will only improve the impressiveness of your chest. That’s why in the following workouts, you’ll find at least a few exercises that work your “pull” muscles, including the rear deltoids, latimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles.
There are hundreds of different exercises you can use to help fully develop your chest. To start, pick one or two big, compound movements, or movements that involve 2 or more joints to complete. One of the major benefits of compound exercises is they have been seen to trigger a bigger hormonal response, releasing more testosterone than if fewer muscles were involved. To support your testosterone production, try pairing a compound movement heavy workout routine with a testo support supplement like HexoFire Labs Delta Prime.
To balance out your chest, finish off with at least one exercise each that focuses more on the upper and lower chest. You can either add these moves to an existing full – or upper-body workout, or you can build a workout that focuses on building your chest exclusively.
- Barbell Chest Press (compound movement) – this is one of the most well-known and popular chest exercises. By inclining or declining the bench, you can target the different parts of the chest
- Dumbbell Bench Press (compound movement) – this is slightly more challenging than the barbell press as each half of the body must work separately to push each weight up
- Push-Up (compound movement) – often overlooked, the push-up is another compound movement that is great for building strength and mobility
- Dips (compound movement) – to make sure you target your pecs more than your triceps, lean forward as you do the movement rather than keeping your body straight up and down
- Landmine Press (compound movement) – using a barbell with one end in a corner or a specialized machine, add a plate to the top of the barbell. With the barbell over the left shoulder, lift the barbell straight up overhead with the left hand. Complete your set on one side and then switch.
- Cable Crossovers (isolation movement) – perform this movement slowly and in control from start to finish to get maximum benefit from the tension of the cable
- Pec-Fly (isolated movement) – this can be modified to target the upper and lower chest by starting the movement with arms higher or lower than the traditional pec-fly
- Dumbbell Pec-Fly (isolation movement) – do this sitting upright, or lying on a flat bench for more of a challenge
All the movements listed above have several different kinds of variations, so do a little research to find the ones you like best and keep your workouts interesting.
Best Chest Workout
The best chest workouts will involve several different movements that help to target the entire chest from different angles. To get the most out of your workouts, start with the big compound movements that involve more than one muscle group, and then follow with more targeted and isolated movements. For each exercise, aim to perform 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps. The weight should be heavy enough that by the end of the last set, it should be a struggle to finish the movement:
- Barbell Bench Press
- Smith Machine Incline Press
- Decline Dumbbell Press
- Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
- Cable Crossovers
- Lat Pull Downs
Dumbbell Chest Workout
Dumbbells are a great way to get through a workout when the gym is busy, as well as ads an extra challenge to your stabilizer muscles and targeted muscle group. Dumbbells also force each side of the body to lift the weight to completion separately, making sure that the weaker side gets worked out as effectively as the dominant side. For this routine, aim to perform 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps per exercise. Again, by the end of the third set, it should be a real struggle to finish the movement.
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes
- Dumbbell Plank Rows
- Bent Arm Dumbbell Pullover
- Dumbbell Deadlifts
Remember, there are tons of variations for almost all chest focused exercises. To build your own routine, find a combination of compound and isolation exercises you enjoy, and change up your routine to keep it interesting. Pair it with a few back exercises to stay balanced, and you’ll be well on your way to a sculpted, strong chest.
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