A lot of people ask me what the best chest building exercises are. You have probably heard this time and time again, “How much do you bench?” It makes me chuckle a little every time I hear it, but the truth is that chest training and having a well developed chest are highly sought after in our society. The other fact is that I see 85% of people in the gym not effectively training their chest. Notice I used the word effectively, because a lot of people go through the motions without proper form or true mind body connection and wonder why they are not getting results.
In this article I want to discuss some key tips to training your chest and also give you a routine that will help you build.
Understand that just because you can move the weight doesn’t mean you’re using your chest. You must really focus each rep on contracting your chest muscle (aka squeezing) all the way through the movement. Your body is extremely intelligent and will always look for the easiest way to move a weight. Keep your shoulder blades tucked together throughout the movement. This will allow the weight to focus on the chest rather than your anterior deltoid (front shoulder).
Building any muscle group requires you to keep that muscle under tension making it work harder than it is used to. The mistake I see most with chest exercises is during dumbbell presses when people hit the weights together during the top portion of the pressing movement. If you hold your arms straight out in front of you with weight, you can hold it there all day because the weight is loaded onto your shoulder joint. If you hold it slightly out to the side you won’t be able to hold it there very long because your chest in under tension and of course gravity. Therefore the key is to keep your chest under tension the entire set. While you press the weight up, squeeze your chest all the way to the top but keep your hands slightly outside of the center of your body. You will notice how much harder this is so don’t be afraid to lower the weight if you go to heavy. Proper form, with weight is what will give you results. Never sacrifice form.
Your chest is made up of two different muscle groups, pec major and minor or upper and lower. The best way to train your overall chest is to include variations of 4 key movements. Flat Press, Incline Press, Decline Press, and a Fly movements. Also if you are lagging in one part of your chest don’t be afraid to do 2 exercises for that one area on chest days. The most common lacking area for men and women is upper chest strength. Also make sure you change your chest routine every 3-4 weeks.
Incline Chest Press
Dumbbell Flat Chest Press
Cable Cross Over (Mid-High)
Start with a weight that is heavy enough that you can complete 12 but would be tough to do 15. The key is to pick a challenging weight where you really push yourself. If you are trying for 10 and only get 9 that is still a great set. If you are trying for 8 and you do 12, you need to move up in weight. Continue to practice these best chest building exercises and continue to mix up your rep ranges and your exercises and you will be on your way to an amazing chest.