Two types of exercises dominate chest workouts: presses and push-ups. Incline, decline, barbell and dumbbell, pressing weight away from your chest will grow your pecs. The same principle applies for your own bodyweight, which is why Health Fitness Revolution started the #PushUpsEverywhere campaign. Strong pecs are a powerful asset for both men and women. They help with posture, prevent shoulder injury, and empower you with functional strength that helps in every day situations. Put yourself at the top of the pec-ing order with these chest exercises.
- Bench Press
The Godfather of chest-building exercises; the bench press is intimidating to novices but trusted by long-time lifters. It can also be dangerous if you are inexperienced, so make sure you have a spotter and don’t try to lift more weight than you are comfortable with. It can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell, and it is recommended that you incorporate both into your workout.
Lay straight on a flat bench and dig your shoulder blades into the bench, arching your back slightly and puffing your chest out. Lift the bar and lock your elbows, so the bar is straight above you. Once you have a feel for the weight and your arms are balanced, slowly lower it until it touches your mid chest. Your arms should be at a 90 degree angle. Press it up, exhaling as you lift.
- Cable Flyes
Flies are a great compliment to traditional presses. Cable flies make sure that your pecs are doing the work and help stabilize the movement for a smooth, fluid motion. Raise two stirrups to the highest setting at a cable-crossover machine. With slightly bent outstretched arms, grab each of stirrup and bring your hands together. Don’t curve your back or move your feat. A staggered stance helps you remain stationary.
- Incline Dumbbell Press
The incline dumbbell press and traditional barbell press compliment each other like a quiet beach and a radiant sunset, except they create great pecs instead of serene relaxation. The flat bench press works your lower pecs, while incline dumbbell press works your upper chest to make it “pop.” Adjust a workout bench so that it is at a slight incline. Lift two dumbbells from your knees until they are resting above your chest. Press them up until your elbows are extended, bringing them closer together as the lift progresses. Return back in the same motion.
- Wide Push-up
This classic bodyweight exercise is a great way to build your chest without visiting the gym. Get in a pushup position, but place your hands wider than shoulder length apart to really target the pecs. Do them 3 times a week to start seeing improvement fast.
- Diamond Push-up
Another variation of the pushup that is great for your inner-chest. Place your hands close enough together that your forefingers and thumbs are touching at an angle.
- Chest Dips
A standard dip, with your torso straight up and down, works out the triceps. If you lean forward a bit more than dips become a powerful pec building exercise. Raise yourself up until your arms are completely straight. Lower your body by bending your arms, leaning forward with your torso. Pause when your shoulders get below your elbows. Your elbows remain locked and stationary throughout the exercise. Raise your body back up to starting position and lock out your arms.
- Cable Crossover
New studies show that cable crossovers achieve almost as much chest muscle activation as the barbell bench press. For this exercise, lower the pulleys to the bottom of the a cable machine. With your palms facing out and up, pull the handles up across your body to eye level.
- Decline Dumbbell Fly
The decline bench is a bit more intimidating than its flat and inclined cousins, but is a great way to your hit your chest and core simultaneously. Get used to it by doing some some crunches first. Add the weights when you’re comfortable. For a dumbbell decline fly, secure your feet in place and have two dumbbells resting on your thighs. Lay down and move the dumbbells so they are hovering over your shoulders, with your palms facing each other. Move the weights out from over your chest in wide arcs, keeping your elbow slightly bent. Squeeze your chest muscles and return the dumbbells to starting position. Don’t forget to breathe!
- Decline Push-Up
Have you noticed how great push-ups are for your chest yet? This one is for more advanced push-up practitioners. Place your feet on an elevated surface like a couch or workout bench. Hold your body up at arms-length. Lower yourself downwards until your chest hits the floor. Breathe and push back up. The truly brave and well-balanced can attempt the decline push-up with their feet planted on a medicine ball.
- Bodyweight Flyes
This is another great bodyweight exercise that hits you hard in the chest. Place two rounded dumbbells or EZ-curl bars on the floor shoulder width. Get in the push-up position with one hand on each dumbbell. Lower down into a pushup, rolling the weights away from each other to accommodate the movement. Exhale and push back up, rolling the weights back together.