Looking to build bigger pecs? Having a strong and well defined chest is a goal for many men and for good reason – it’s one of the highlights of a well-chiseled physique.
Chest is also a favorite day for many in the gym, which is one reason why it might seem like everyone is in the gym on Monday working their chest. Understanding the right exercises to have in place if you want to really carve out your chest will be critical to your success.
Let’s look at the main ones to know so that you can get these into your protocol immediately.
1. Flat Barbell Bench Press
The very first must-do move is the flat barbell bench press. This exercise is the ‘king’ of upper body moves because it’s a compound exercise that will allow you to go as heavy as possible on it.
You’ll work the chest, the shoulders, the triceps, and even the biceps to some degree while performing it. This move should typically be done at the start of your workout program when you are most fresh and able to lift maximum weight.
Use a lower rep range – 5-8 reps to really focus on developing great strength gains while doing it.
Be sure to keep track of your breathing while doing this exercise as well. Far too many people have a tendency to hold their breath, which will just lead to light headedness and you feeling weaker than normal.
Breathe out as you drive the weight upwards and in as you lower it back down again.
You can also experiment with using wide grip and a more narrow grip as well while doing this exercise. This will help keep your muscles responding and growing stronger.
2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Next up you have the incline dumbbell bench press. This is another great compound exercise that will work all the muscles described below, but will place more total stress and strain on the upper chest region. If you want to bring up your upper chest, this should be your go-to movement.
Try doing this one with a set of dumbbells rather than a barbell if you used the barbell for your flat bench press. That way, you’ll provide more variety for your muscles, keeping them responding and getting stronger.
Using the dumbbells is also great as it can help to prevent muscular imbalances from developing as well.
Note that the higher the incline, the more the focus will switch over to your shoulders, so keep it to a moderate incline only. You should be able to feel your chest working first and foremost when executing this movement.
3. Decline Bench Press
Along with the incline dumbbell press, the decline bench press is another excellent move to get into your protocol. Just as the incline bench press has a greater tendency to work the upper chest, the decline bench press is going to instead target the lower chest region.
This bench press can be slightly uncomfortable when first starting, so make sure that you have a spotter with you and use a lighter weight. Then, once you’ve gotten the feel for the movement pattern, increase the weight upwards until you’re fully challenged.
Really focusing on the squeeze of the muscle while doing this exercise will also help ensure that you’re targeting the lower chest as optimally as possible.
4. Dumbbell Chest Fly’s
Adding some isolation work to your chest workout to bring up your pecs is also a wise move. Isolation exercises should come towards the end of the session when your chest is already in a partially fatigued state. This will help to really bring you to that state of maximum muscle fatigue, ensuring that you are going to see superior strength gains.
Dumbbell chest fly’s can be done on a flat bench, incline bench, or decline bench depending on your preference. Start with a flat bench until you get a good feel for the movement and then from there, you can incline or decline the bench as necessary.
Another option is to switch over to using cables as well. This will keep constant muscular tension on the chest muscles at all times, so can be good for really helping to bring out maximum muscle definition.
Chest fly’s tend to be good for increasing the definition between the two pectoral muscles, creating that cleavage-like line that most guys are looking for.
Do this movement in a very slow and steady movement pattern in order to keep proper mind-muscle control at all times. The minute you start to swing the weights is the minute that you’ll take tension off the muscles, reducing the results that you see.
Finally, when doing this move, also make sure that you aren’t letting your arms go beyond parallel. Doing so can cause great strain to the shoulder joint, setting you up for injuries down the road.
5. Push-Ups On An Exercise Ball
Finally, the last of the exercises to get into place to help improve your pec muscles is the standard push-up. Only, to boost the intensity of this basic move, place the hands up on an exercise ball and push-up from there.
This is going to reduce your base of support and immediately you’ll feel your chest as well as your core contracting hard to keep you balanced on the ball.
Push-ups are great to do as a finishing move for your workout program, bringing the muscles to a complete state of fatigue. Try and perform as many of these as you can at the end of the session, doing one or two sets total.
If you aren’t quite strong enough to do the push-ups with the hands on the ball, you can also try the opposite variety – push-ups with the legs on the ball. This will still add some instability to the exercise, but it’ll be far less intense than with the hands on the ball.
Remember to keep good form while doing these and fatigue sets in. As soon as your back starts to dip or move out of proper alignment, stop the exercise and rest until you can keep going (or finish the workout there).
So there you have some of the best exercises to consider doing if you want to improve your pec muscles. With enough hard work and determination, you can get that chest that you’ve always dreamed of.
Try and include two chest days per week for optimal results if you are looking to bring up this body part, separating those workouts by at least two or three days.