5 Best Exercises for Chest
For a layman, a bodybuilder is a guy with densely muscled chest. A man with well developed pectoral muscles stands out from his peers and emanates strength via his powerful upper body. They also look magnificent in a shirt and you will definitely receive compliments about your chest on a day to day basis, boosting your confidence all the way up. Certainly, chest training has its perks. That’s why the first day of the week is “The Unofficial International Chest day” in gyms worldwide. The main working muscle for the Bench press, which is one of the most popular lifts all over the world, is the Pectoral Muscle group. So if you devote an adequate amount on training your chest, you can proudly answer the infamous question “How much do you bench, bro?”
Many people have the problem of man boobs before beginning a proper weight training regimen. The use of progressive overload on the chest exercises will definitely help you eradicate that problem.
Have problems pushing yourself off the floor?
Are you afraid to take off your shirt in public places like a water park? Fine. Start a proper chest routine.
Since the pecs are one of the largest muscle groups of the upper body, developing them is not a piece of cake. You would definitely see many guys in your gym banging out rep after rep, set after set on the bench and still not getting the results to show for it. That is because most people train their chest incorrectly. There are many aspects of a proper chest training routine that you have to follow to see any sort of betterment at the end of the week. I can assure you once you start following the basic guidelines that I am going to underline in this article, you’ll definitely buff up your chest size in no time.
- The Pectoral muscle is made up of many muscle fibres:- Outer chest, Inner Chest, Lower chest, Upper chest, Middle chest and the Serratus. An effective training routine should deal with all of these, not necessarily in isolation, but to a certain degree.
- The muscles of the chest are generally made up of fast twitch muscle fibres. Therefore, moderate reps performed with heavy weight is the best option for most of the compound movements. The isolation-type exercises like the cable crossovers and dumbbell flys are best done with repetitions greater than 12per set.
- Since most of the best exercises are compound movements, that is, they would involve your shoulders and triceps up to a certain extent, it would be wise to train those body parts with some days rest between them. Let’s say you have a heavy shoulder session planned for Wednesday. Then, it wouldn’t be wise to train your chest on Thursday.
- Ideal chest training frequency is twice a week. Once a week training is an insignificant stimulus for your chest, while thrice a week is generally too much training frequency for the average weight lifter. Perform only a selectively chosen, fewer number of exercises in your workout. Don’t plop on all of the exercises you could possibly think of on one day. Spread your work load throughout the week.
- The best exercises done for your chest are free weight . However, machines should also have a place in your workout. A balanced workout should have around 80% free weight and body weight while having 20% machine based exercises.
- I mentioned earlier that chest responds to heavy weights most actively. However, maxing out on the bench every single session isn’t the best of ideas, unless you are a powerlifter with a competition coming up. It is counterproductive to muscle growth and you would definitely end up hurting your elbows and rotator cuffs.
- You can use a session in one or two months in which you load up the bar for as much as weight you can handle for a single repetition on the Bench Press. Be cautious with the weight itself, since heavy weights are involved and one mishap can set you to face deeper consequences.
I’ve seen many kids loading the bar with more than the weight that they could even think of handling and then asking for a spot. See, the spot should come in only when you are unable to perform the last rep, so that the weight doesn’t squeeze the air out of you. But these kids start taking so much help right from the beginning of the set and the traps of the spotter get a decent bit of pump from helping his buddy carry out those ego inflated sets. Use a weight that you are absolutely certain you can handle for a given number of repetitions. The spotter’s job is to help you in case of a problem, not the lift itself.
These things being mentioned, here are my top picks for the Chest.
#1- The Bench Press
I am sure it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this exercise called the King Of all the Upper body exercises tops the list. The Bench Press not only beefs up your entire pectoral muscle, but also offers supplementary benefits to your shoulders and triceps up to a great extent.
Set your traps such that they are almost sunk into the bench and you get into a comfortable arched spinal position while your feet are still flat on the ground. Grip the bar at a suitable position and ask your spotter to help you lift the bar from the rack, so that you don’t ruin your initial set up. Always try to rip the bar right in half with your grip. Bring your elbows as close as you can to the body and don’t flare them in the negative portion of the movement.This ensures that the maximum pressure is exerted on the bar and the chest is working to its maximum ability. Lower the bar slowly all the way down to your chest, just under your nipples,pause it for one second and then push it off until your arms are at full extension. Repeat.
Don’t flare out the elbows. This would gradually set you up for shoulder problems. Also, always bring the bar to your chest and don’t stop midway. The lower half is where the chest is the most dominant group whereas the upper half or the lockout is where your triceps take up most of the work.
Every now and then, switch the barbell with the dumbbell for a greater range of motion.
#2- Incline Press
This exercise is the best exercise to develop the upper pectorals. These muscles are right below your clavicle and give an armour- plate like look to the chest when fully developed.
Grip the in the same way you would grip it when executing a flat bench press. Once cleared from the rack, lower the barbell down to an inch or two away from your chin and then press it in the same direction you lowered it. Repeat.
Many Bodybuilders believe that the Incline Dumbbell Press is superior to the Incline Barbell Press. It gives you greater range of motion through the same movements as you can lower the weight all the way down to the side of your chest. But as is the case with all exercises, the barbell move always builds more mass than the Dumbbells.
#3- Parallel Bar Dips
This exercise is such an effective movement that it is called ‘The Squat of The upper body’. It is the best body weight exercise in my opinion. It hits the lower pecs with a great intensity and hits your shoulders and triceps too.
Mount the parallel bars. Lower your body with a slight bend at the waist so that your upper body as at an acute angle to the legs. Keep going until you can without irritating your shoulders. Then push your body back up maintaining the same position of the torso until your arms are extended.
Not going all the way down, hence, doing quarter reps is the greatest mistake in this exercise. Also don’t straighten your body as it takes the pressure off your chest.
When you don’t recline your body at an angle, the movement becomes a tricep dominant exercise.
#4- Dumbbell Flys
This exercise is the best isolation type movement you can do for the chest. It hits the outer part of the chest primarily, but squeezing the Dumbbells at the top part of the lift gets your inner chest involved to a greater extent.
Extend your arms with the Dumbbells with the hands facing each other. Then lower the Dumbbells with the arms almost straight until the Dumbbells are at bench level. Bring back the weight in a similar fashion and join at the top. Flew your chest at this position.
Cable crossovers, machine flys (pec deck) and cable flys are all variations of this movement, all great exercises. Flys done on an incline bench or decline bench hit the upper and lower part respectively.
#5- Decline Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell presses done on a decline bench have a greater impact than other dumbbell presses. The lower part of the chest directly stimulated by this exercise.
Similar to the flat dumbbell press, just using a decline bench.
A highly effective chest movement should have 2pressing movements, dips and 1 fly movement. Here is a sample chest training routine.
Incline Bench Press 5 sets X 8-10 reps
Dips 5 sets X Failure.
Flat Dumbbell press 4 sets X 12-15
Dumbbell Flys 3 sets X 15 reps
Use a rest period of about 90-120 seconds on the heavy barbell movement(s), 1 minute on dips and limit it to 30-45 seconds on fly movements.