Table of Contents
- The Basics: Anatomy of the Chest:
- Some Pointers for Building Chest Muscles:
- Why the Best Chest Exercises?
- Do You Just Want to Build a Big Chest?
- The Science of Effective Chest Training:
- Effective Strategy for Building Armor Plate:
- The Naked Truth about the Upper Chest:
- Best Chest Workouts and Exercises:
- Barbell Bench Press:
- Incline Bench Press:
- 3. Peck Deck Machine:
- Preventing Injury:
- Chest Workout Mistakes:
- Relying Too Much on Flat Bench Pressing:
- Rushing Exercise Goals:
- Not Letting the Mind Preside Over Matter:
- Exercise Volume:
You can certainly develop an impressive chest size if you know what chest exercises to engage in. While you can’t gain the same chest size as Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can certainly develop something that you could be proud of. Most chest workouts are very easy to do if you can follow a routine. The reason most beginners fail in accumulating impressive chest muscle is not because they are lazy or weak. The main reason they fail is that they don’t know good chest workouts from bad chest workouts. Another mistake most beginners make is their inability to differentiate between lower chest workouts and upper chest workouts. If you don’t want to experience the same problems, you need to be able to know the kind of pectoral exercise (abbreviated to pec exercises) that is suitable for you and how to carry it out. While some people look for the best chest exercise for mass, others are primarily concerned about fitness or toning. No matter what type of chest exercise you want to do, there is still some learning curve to it. This is what this article aims to teach you.
In the following section, you will learn the best chest workouts that you can do to develop each area of your chest. Fortunately, you can start these workouts right away.
The Basics: Anatomy of the Chest:
There are two muscles in the chest that collaborate and work together to give the chest its function. These two muscles are called the pectoralis minor muscle and pectoralis major muscle. The pectoralis minor is just below the pectoralis major and both of them start at the clavicle and ends at the humerus (the armpit area and sternum).
These muscles have three functions. The first is the arm wrestling motion, the arm pitching motion, and the ability to lower your arm and bring it up on your sides. You can develop these chest muscles with good chest workout routine and pectoral exercises. In the recommendation section, I’m going to talk about these two at length along with other chest exercises.
Some Pointers for Building Chest Muscles:
The chest is made up of a single mass of muscle. However, when it comes to developing the muscles, we can break the chest into three parts: the upper, middle, and lower chest. These parts can be effectively developed if you change the angle during exercising them.
You can stimulate the upper chest by exercising on a 45% incline bench. Some of the exercises you can do are inclined barbell bench and inclined dumbbell bench press. These are the best forms you can do to upgrade the upper chest.
The middle chest, on the other hand, can be stimulated when you perform exercises on a flat bench and some examples include flat barbell bench and flat dumbbell bench press.
Finally, the lower chest can be provoked from exercises done on a 45% decline bench. Examples of lower chest exercise you can do on a decline bench include decline dumbbell bench press and decline barbell bench press.
Another thing you should know is that there are different types of chest exercises and they have different purposes. There are chest exercises for men, which is designed specifically for men. There are also chest workout for mass, which is also designed to increase muscle mass on the chest. These two are the most important and we will focus on them in this article.
Now that you understand the location of the chest, its composition, and functions, you should try to perform the best chest exercises in the next section that will help you develop the chest to the level you want it to reach. Most importantly, you should ensure you follow the chest workout routine appropriately to see progress and proper growth.
Why the Best Chest Exercises?
The chest, like the biceps, is an area of the body that every bodybuilder wants to develop. In fact, the two muscle groups that most men often have trouble developing are the biceps and chest.
- The biceps are small. They are also very difficult to develop – they normally require a big magnitude of time and effort to develop.
- The pecs, on the other hand, are stronger and bigger, but they have to be developed from the ground up.
Modern sedentary lifestyle also doesn’t help matter. This is why most beginners can’t manage proper chest exercises on the bench press for a long period. If you are new to weightlifting and bodybuilding, you don’t have to despair because there is a workaround for this.
Do You Just Want to Build a Big Chest?
If your definition of “armor-plate chest” is a big chest, then you are wrong. Most beginners often chant, “I want a big chest” or something along the line of “My chest is too small”. Although this seems to be the proper thing to do if you want to develop an impressive chest size, it is not exactly accurate.
Just like the weight loss routine that most people engage in is actually a fat loss, so does a big chest is also just that. If your goal is just to develop a big chest, then that is a misguided goal.
The reason is that if you eventually develop a big chest, you may not be able to gain the look you want. Because of this simple mistake, most people develop muscle mass in the wrong place.
Some of the common mistakes are developing mass in the outer and lower pecs while the upper and inner pecs remain with little or no development. You don’t want to do this. And if you have fallen into this mistake, you can still correct it. In order to correct this, make sure you follow the good chest workouts outlined in this article.
The Science of Effective Chest Training:
If you have been reading about chest good workouts or bodybuilding in general, you probably have read or heard somewhere that the “upper and lower chest training” is just a hoax that people use in their arguments just to sway.
I will like to point to you some of the mistakes that people make in their chest-training regime:
- People focus on the wrong chest exercises: Some people tend to give more attention than is needed to isolation exercises and machines. Although these are important, they are not the primary things you should focus on when you are doing chest workout for mass. Instead, they should be secondary.
- High-rep training: Remember your pecs are among the stubborn muscle groups in your chest. Therefore, using high-rep training on pecs is not particularly effective.
Don’t be pumped up if these ideas go against what you already know. The truth is that only beginners think that higher reps and lower weights can help them build that armor plate chest. However, the only way you can see better result from your exercises and training is to pay attention to heavy lifting and compound movements. This translates into more dumbbell and barbell pressing alongside some flies and dips.
Effective Strategy for Building Armor Plate:
You may ask, “Isn’t pre-workout supplements the most recommended way of developing muscles, especially the chest?” Well, that is true but it is a different story entirely. For a beginner, I won’t recommend supplementing your routine with drugs because they can have certain effects (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10664066).
However, what I want to you to understand here is that you can build that impressive size on your chest without drugs and supplements – although, this path takes hard work, some know-how, and the old school “patience”. However, if you can follow a simple strategy – such as the following – you should not have any problem:
- Lift heavy weights in your chest workouts. Focus on doing chest exercises that require sets that are in the 5, or 6, or 7, rep range. This type of pectoral exercises will help you develop stronger and bigger chest.
- Do chest workouts that allow for progressive overload. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_overload). One of the most important concepts in bodybuilding is that to continue to get bigger, you must continue to get stronger. Progressive overload in its simple term means adding weight to the bar over time. This is a simple way of building natural muscles overtime.
- Get the volume right. The truth is that the best chest workout often requires that you do the right volume. Without that, even the best chest workout routine might not work. You also want to focus on the number of reps you complete every week. Remember that the heavier the reps you do, the fewer you should do each week (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16287373). This is because heavy weightlifting requires time for recovery, unlike light lifting that requires less time for recovery. This is why you must pay attention to this so that you don’t risk overtraining.
The Naked Truth about the Upper Chest:
I want to discuss one important aspect of chest training before we dive into the exercises. This is the “upper chest”. The debate about the upper chest has been on for a while now.
Do you need a chest exercise that is dedicated to the upper chest? Or all exercises will develop each muscle fiber equally? Are there some chest workouts exercise that are specifically used on the upper chest? And most importantly, is there a thing as upper chest?
Without prolonging the issue, there is actually a part of the chest called clavicular head of the pectoralis major – which is the biggest chest muscle. This part forms what we call the “upper chest”.
There is a reason why most people have been referring to this part of the muscle: proper chest development requires that you work on the pectoralis clavicle (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20512064). I will summarize this to two reasons:
- The pectoralis clavicle is among the small and stubborn muscle group, so it can take a lot of time to grow properly.
- The movements that are great for developing the clavicular pectoralis is also very good for growing the pectoralis major.
This is why the incline pressing is often recommended so as not to isolate the upper chest when you are training your chest. Another exercise that is recommended along incline pressing is the reverse grip; however, it is less popular. Now that we have all that theory section handled, let’s dip into the best chest exercises.
Best Chest Workouts and Exercises:
Have you ever asked yourself “what is the ultimate chest workout?”
In this section, you will learn the difference exercises you can do for your chest. While there are probably hundreds of exercises you can do on your chest, you don’t want to spend a whole day doing them all or read all day till you can’t decide on any of them. If you just want to learn the absolute best chest exercises that you can start using now, then we have come up with top ones.
Instead of compiling a list of the hardest chest exercises, we have instead come up with the best of the best such that you will get the best from your workout. We have also included an explanation to accompany each of these chest workouts so that you can understand them right away. You can create a new routine from these exercises or add them to your current routine and swap them exercises.
Most chest exercises are divided between beginner-friendly and advanced. I am going to divide all the exercise into two groups. If you are a beginner, you don’t need all the exercises to build an impressive chest size. However, if you are an advanced bodybuilder, I know you would be looking for all the ways to squeeze the last bit of size from your physique. Therefore, I have also added the best chest workout for mass that is relevant to you.
Barbell Bench Press:
One of the best workout routines is the barbell bench press and you will find it in most of the popular weightlifting programs out there. It can help you train the shoulders, triceps, and your pectorals. Although it looks simple, it’s a fairly technical exercise. This is why you need to learn all the details of the exercise so that it becomes easier for you to practice. Whether you are looking for the best chest for mass, lower chest workout, or the best chest exercises for men, you will still need the barbell bench press. Overall, no matter the purpose of engaging in any chest exercise, the important thing is a constant practice. If you can make sure your practice is “consistent”, you can learn any exercise in a short period.
Because barbell lifts can help you generate a lot of power, using a barbell bench can help you generate lots of weight. Compared to a dumbbell, a barbell can give you more control when you are lifting. Aside from the fact that barbell bench press is an exercise that is easy to learn – and master – there are some programs that are dedicated to it where you are taught from scratch how to do the exercise.
To add it to your routine, try to do it towards the end of your workout during heavy sets. Also use it for lower reps and vary your grip width to get complete chest development.
To perform the barbell bench press properly, do the following:
- After lying under the bench, make sure your eyes is directly below the bar. You can adjust yourself until you get in this position.
- Now raise your chest up. And make sure your shoulder blades are tucked down and squeezed together. This will give you some tightness in the upper back This position must be maintained throughout your lift.
- Now grab the bar with your hand, making sure it is wider than shoulder-width when the hands are separated.
- Make your shoulder apart in a shoulder-width and firmly plant your feet on the ground. Also, arch your lower back so that you can get a good lift.
- The final step is to unrack the weight. This is done by straightening your shoulders and moving it horizontally.
Incline Bench Press:
This exercise has so many variations and is very useful in building the upper part of your chest. Don’t be afraid that there are many variations of this exercise that you need to learn. All good chest workouts need some form of practice before you can master the routine. Here, you want to make sure the bench is inclined at 30 to 45 degrees. While some people prefer 30 degrees, others prefer 45 degree inclination. Try different variations and see which one works best for you.
A. Dumbbell Bench Press (with Band):
You can use bands as a variation of your dumbbell press. You can match your strength curve and experience resistance through your entire range of motion using bands. When you are at your strongest, bands can give you the most resistance. This allows you to have complete resistance all through the distance your targeted muscles travels. Without sacrificing form or do heavy lifting, you can add a lot of resistance to your exercise with bands.
B. Dumbbell Bench Press:
Another variation is the dumbbell press. The inclined dumbbell press can give you impressive aesthetics and improve your physique. Since incline dumbbell press is volume based, you will be doing more than one rep exercises. Therefore, you need to do at least two moves of this exercise in the span of a week. Put tension on your pec muscles while getting smooth and controlled motion. If you wantto rest your drink on your chest, this is the chance.
C. Incline Dumbbell Pull-Over:
Incline dumbbell pull-over is much more effective in putting your chest fibers under pressure at long range of motion than flat dumbbell pull-overs. All you need for this exercise is a bench inclined at 30 to 45 degrees. Sit against this bench in a single-joint movement – without bending your elbows – while the dumbbell is above.
The Dumbbell pull-over works the shoulder and really touch on the pecs – since it involves moving the upper arm rearward. Make sure to do this at the end of your workouts and try to hold the peak contraction of the last rep in the next one.
D. Inclined Barbell Press:
The inclined barbell press is a tried and tested chest exercise and you should not ignore it. You can definitely use it for a long term process and can be very effective. Unlike the flat bench, it is less stressful on the shoulder joints. If you can engage in forward pressing sport, you want to develop your upper spec muscles and anterior deltoid.
E. Others include Closer-Grip Bench Press, Decline bench press, Reverse-Grip Bench press, and the Smith Machine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20093960). However, I’m not including these ones among the list because they are not very effective for a beginner. If you are an advanced bodybuilder, you can learn more about them with YouTube videos.
3. Peck Deck Machine:
When you are learning chest flies, don’t make use of dumbbells or cables because they become difficult since the hands are locked in a slightly bent position all through the exercise. Because it allows you to workout in just a pathway, the peck deck can make things easier for you. You don’t even need to balance weights when you go for a big pump, the exercise is there to teach you subtle movements.
According to research (http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbme/v13n1/en_12.pdf), activating the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major are similar in both bench press and the peck deck. This means that even though you are working at a different range, peck deck machine can help you chest activation.
In the golden days and the earliest period of bodybuilding, people can go to the gym and lift barbells without any care. However, it doesn’t always take long before these people realize they are on the brink of experiencing the dreaded wear-and-tear.
No matter your strength, power, or age, you need a good warm-up to prepare for the rigorous action that will follow, especially when you are doing chest workout for mass. However, it does not require a long stretch or marathon. If you want to make sure you don’t experience some pec tear, follow these simple tips:
- Focus on Exercise Sequence: If you can setup your chest workout routine properly, preventing injury will be very easy for you. Take pectoral exercises for instance, instead of jumping straight into the exercise and start preparing the bench, you can start with a bench press to pyramid your weight. With just this pre-workout, you can send blood around your elbow joints, shoulders, and chest muscles, which will prepare them for the sets to follow.
- Protect Yourself from Wear: The key to protecting yourself from wear is keeping your elbows and shoulders warm for the first part of your workout. If you like to wear tank tops to show your upcoming burgeoning chest, you may want to substitute that with wrist wraps and elbow sleeves. However, if you can’t invest in those, you can wear long sleeves when you are preparing for your exercise so that you can keep your shoulders and elbows warm which is very important for preventing wear during your chest workouts exercise.
- User Proper Technique: The best chest workout requires proper techniques, so if you can follow the proper technique, you will be able to benefit from the exercise in the long term. The best way to prevent shoulder infringements is to avoid extreme shoulder flare, and if you want to stimulate your power output and pectoral activation, try to minimize your elbow tuck.
- Drive Movements with Your Legs: Another effective practice is to drive the movements with your legs. Since you are concerned about building muscle and not lifting heavy weight, you need to plant your feet on the floor in a solid way.
- Lower Chest Workout: Another important aspect is to make sure you pay adequate attention to your lower chest during your chest exercises. Even though the upper chest is the area where most people don’t develop, the lower chest can equally fall in this category.
Chest Workout Mistakes:
Relying Too Much on Flat Bench Pressing:
Even if you are concerned about building the biggest chest possible, making bench pressing the holy grail of your exercise is a mistake. And that needs to be avoided. Instead, see it as part of a grand scheme of your exercise routine. Instead of just focusing on decline bench, swap it with incline bench. And, instead of doing barbell bench press all the time, alternate with dumbbell bench press. With this alone, you should start seeing results from your pectoral exercises.
Rushing Exercise Goals:
Most of the training on chest workout routine out there instructs their trainees to take a delicate portion of their training slowly. There is a reason for this. Don’t just lift the weight for the sake of lifting. Lift it with purpose and control. Don’t reduce the pressure on your target muscle by bouncing off the weight off your chest with each rep.
You must pay attention to the eccentric part of your workout – the part where the weight needs to be lowered. Failure to do this and you will be leaving growth opportunity on the table. In summary: instead of lowering your weight in 5 seconds, do it in 8 seconds or twice the time.
Not Letting the Mind Preside Over Matter:
To maximize your chest training, ensure you connect the muscles to the mind. Research (https://bretcontreras.com/wp-content/uploads/Attentional-Focus-for-Maximizing-Muscle-Development-The-Mind-Muscle-Connection.pd) has shown that there is a direct link between mind-muscle connection and activation of the muscle.
To train your chest properly, you have to pump up the volume. Increasing the sets of flies and lifting extra heavy weight per week won’t do the trick. If you want to maximize your chest development, then know that volume is king. In a research from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, (http://saudeemovimento.net.br/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/565_SINGLE_VS_MULTIPLE_SETS_FOR_RESISTANCE_TRAINING.PDF) single sets and multiple sets were compared in strengths in resistance training.
The research shows that multiple sets – compared to single sets – results in greater muscle growth with 40%. This means that you should pay attention to the intensity of your exercise. Instead of completing 25 sets in one week, split it over two or three weeks.
Don’t decide on the chest workout routine now. Instead, analyze your strengths and weaknesses. This is important if you want to see the results you want from your chest exercises. When you know the condition of your chest area, you will be able to decide on the best routine to follow in your chest workouts. This is equally important if you are only interested in chest workout for mass. Do you have a droopy lower chest? Then go for more decline movements. Do you have a hollow chest ring? Then perform incline chest exercises. By asking these questions, you will become more analytical in your approach and method of conducting chest exercises.