Chest workouts are synonymous for being an essential part of the gym-bro routine, and so they should be, but they aren’t limited to just this use. A good chest workout is an essential for any fitness fanatic as it contributes to the overall strength and functional fitness of that athlete. A strong chest helps to stabilise the shoulder joint through its full range of motion and assists in several other pressing movements. It also balances out strength between the anterior and posterior chains and aids good posture and breath work.
Now we think that is reason enough to make Chest Day a consistent part of your routine, so we have provided some Chest Exercises for you to try when you next hit the gym!
BEST CHEST EXERCISES
Now it’s not only the movements which are important, but how much you do of each also greatly impacts strength building capacity. In order to build a strong chest we recommend a set structure where you do 2-3 warm up sets building to a weight and rep number where you eventually achieve failure. Rest, and then repeat that movement for 2 drop sets. This means you drop the weight to a lighter load, but maintain the rep number you previously achieved before failing. This lighter load helps to achieve more volume, fatiguing the chest and consequently helping you to build muscle effectively.
The Bench Press can be completed with either a barbell or one/two dumbbells. The main distinction between these two types is that the dumbbell bench can help to even out strength imbalances between your left and right side, and requires more engagement from the stabilising muscles in your shoulders.
How to do a Bench Press
Lay with your back flat on a bench with your eye line in front of the barbell. When you reach towards the bar grip put your hands wider than shoulder width, ensuring there is only a slight bend in your elbows. Your lower back should be slightly arched, your feet placed either side of the bench, flat on the floor and your knees spread apart. Brace your upper back by bringing your shoulder blades together and tense your core. Lift the bar off of the rack so that your arms are straight and lower to your sternum. When lowered, drive straight back up to extended arms.
Top Tip: If you are going to failure make sure you have someone who can spot you so you don’t risk getting stuck under the bar.
Select two dumbbells of the same weight and position yourself on the bench like you would if you were using a barbell. An easy way to get yourself in position is by first resting the DBs standing on your knees and then rock back so you are on your back and your elbows swing the weight to rest on your chest. From here push the dumbbells directly upwards so they are in front of your eye line and then lower them down with you elbow at a 45 degree angle, until the dumbbell touches your armpit. Drive both dumbbells up at the same time and continue for your rep scheme.
Top Tip: Make sure you focus on equal drive through both sides, this will help to focus on strength imbalances and increase bodily awareness.
The Dumbbell Fly is a great movement for opening the chest and releasing tension. This movement is usually done with a lower weight than your typical bench press because of the extended range of motion, and therefore engagement of smaller stabilising muscles.
How to do the Dumbbell Fly
Sit on the edge of the bench and lay back with the lighter dumbbells resting on your chest. From here push them up to extend your arms. Make sure your feet are placed firmly on the floor, either side of the bench and your lower back is slightly raised off of the bench. Begin by lowering the dumbbells outwards, so that they come just above shoulder height. Then close the dumbbells back together, squeezing your pectorals.
Top Tip: Do not rush the lowering of the dumbbells. If you have not done this movement before it may feel slightly strange and so take your time ensuring your arms are lowered to equal depth.
The Push Up is a great movement for challenging all areas of the chest with several variations to ensure all planes of pushing are built. These variations include the standard push up with both tempo and pause variations, the diamond push up and the wide stance push up. In all cases the push up improves the pushing plane of movement building chest and shoulder strength, as well as being a full body movement engaging the core and quads. All of the variations of push ups listed have their time and place and are essentials if looking to build a bigger chest.
Standard Push up
Begin in a plank position on the floor, with your arms extended so that your weight is distributed between your palms and feet. You can either have your feet together or separated, with the former requiring more engagement from your core. Your palms should be shoulder width apart and your quads tensed. Ensure your shoulders are over your fingertips and begin by lowering down so that your quads and chest hover over the floor. You can then push up to your starting position. Your elbows should come down at 45 degrees to your body and your back should remain flat and engaged throughout.
Tempo Push ups
Creating more time under tension, this option focuses on slowing the movement down requiring your muscles to work harder, creating more fatigue. This is effective for muscle building and increasing volume of time under tension. An example of a tempo push can be a 3 second lower, 2 second pause at bottom, and then push straight up going back into the next rep as soon as you have extended fully.
Pause Push Ups
This variation consists of pausing either at the bottom, mid way or top of each rep building muscular endurance and increasing time under tension. An example of this can be pausing 2 seconds at the bottom and at the top of the rep and continuing for a certain amount of reps or until failure.
Diamond Push Ups
This variation consists of creating a diamond shape with your hands by bringing your forefinger and thumbs together to create a diamond shape on the floor. With your shoulders over your hands you then lower so your chest touches your hands and push back up. This variation targets your triceps more than a standard push up and is great for building arm strength.
Wide Stance Push Ups
This variation is a great chest strength builder placing your hands wider than a normal push up, so they sit outside of your shoulder width. As you lower, bring your elbows out slightly wider so they stay stacked over your wrists. For this variation a braced core and back are essential to ensure form is maintained.
Top Tip: Whichever variation you choose, the consistent focal points are a flat back and engaged core. Tensing your quads will also help your form and keep you from relaxing your legs which exacerbates lower back bending.
What is the best exercise for the chest?
A great exercise for building your Chest is the bench press. This can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells, with the latter challenging strength imbalances between your sides.
How can I get a chest in 2 days?
Chest strength is best built over time with consistency and progressive overload. This means increasing either your reps or weight lifted each week to ensure the muscles are constantly challenged.
How can I train my chest at home?
To train your chest at home you can use either a single heavy object or two medium weight objects for floor press. You can also use several push up variations and you can use a resistance band to attach to a doorway to recreate cable movements.
What are 3 types of exercises to strengthen your chest?
3 exercises to strengthen your chest are Bench Press, Push ups and Dumbbell Flys which can all be completed from home or at the gym!