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10 Best Muscle Building Exercises for Chest

By Born Tough on

Mondays are significantly known as the International Chest Day, not necessarily but almost all gym-goers intend to do chest workouts on Mondays. However, there are dozens of exercises for the chest, all of them have a specific purpose that is targeting a particular group of muscles.

Therefore, it is not the exercise that makes a difference, the variation or angle does. Performing exercise from different angles targets the different muscle groups of the same area.

Whereas, some of the difference also relies on some other aspects as well. Either your goal is to get a lean chest or a muscular bigger chest. Both rely on almost the same variation but what makes the difference is the intensity. Thousands of variations are introduced up till now each has a different aim yet the target is the same.

In this article, we have jotted down the 10-best muscle-building exercises for the chest. These exercises will help you to build a bigger massive chest and will also enhance your muscular performance.

10 Best Chest Exercises for Muscle Building

Barbell Bench Press

Everyone hates bench press because it takes your breath out but this is so popular among lifters for the very same reason. The harder you will train the more stress your muscles will feel and the better they build.

Controlling a barbell is a lot easier than pressing with heavy dumbbells. Moreover, the standard bench press allows you to move more weight. Bench presses are relatively easy to spot in the gym rather it’s hard to get your turn on them.

Why It’s on the List: Though the craze of this exercise is real. It works your whole chest muscles and is known for providing a bigger and muscular shape to your chest. The 10 x 10 sets of barbell bench press, aka German Volume Training, is best for pure mass. Whereas, the low volume of 5x5 sets helps build muscle and strength.

In Your Workout: Start your chest exercise with heavy sets in low rep ranges, such as 6-8 reps. For more complete chest development, you should vary your grip width and style.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell bench presses are also known for better chest muscle growth. Whether dumbbell or barbell bench presses are better is a kind of never-ending debate. Both of them are highly versatile and help in building a bigger and muscular chest.

However, the dumbbell bench press includes variations that have more versatility throughout the beginning, middle, and end of a chest building workout.

Why It’s on the List: As the musculature of each side must work independently which provides more balanced strength and size. Moreover, dumbbells allow a longer or a complete range of motion, which according to some studies can lead to better muscle growth.

In Your Workout: Start your dumbbell chest workout with flat dumbbell presses of heavy sets in lower rep ranges. Doing this will help you to work well for high reps later in a chest workout, either flats or an incline or decline.     

Although barbell bench press and dumbbell bench press carries a similar nature of movements, there is no difference between both of these chest exercises. Both the exercises help in regard to activating the same muscle group. Doing them both, one followed by another doesn’t work any different.

Incline Bench Press

Incline Bench Press not only deals with the upper chest muscle only, many lifters find this exercise as the main lift rather than flat benching for shoulders. With a barbell or multi-grip bar, it works great either way.

Why It’s on the List: Since you can customize your grip to increase focus on your upper chest muscle makes it a better choice to perform with dumbbells.

In Your Workout: A few heavy sets of 6-8 reps can be your primary lift and as a secondary lift, up it to 8-10 reps. Many traditional chest workouts primarily start with flat-bench movements, but you should start your workout with inclines, particularly if you are trying to build your upper chest muscle.  

Decline Press

The decline press is one of the best exercises that target your lower chest, and this is only a part of the whole fact. According to studies, a decline bench press not only works your lower chest muscles but also hits the entire chest and allows you to lift heavier and more comfortably than the flat bench press. 

Why It’s on the List: The decline press hits your entire chest muscle, particularly lower chest muscle to give your chest an aesthetic shape. Moreover, this is a unilateral chest move that emphasizes your shoulder adduction, one of the primary actions of the major pec.  

In Your Workout: Perform free-weight presses early in your chest workout because they require more effort and stabilizer muscles than machines. Before switching to lighter pump work, a machine version might be the final big exercise in your program.

Machine Chest Press

Free-weight presses like flat benches are great, but machine press and cable press variations also contain some unique benefits. Machine presses make it easier to slow down the repetition both in eccentric and concentric phases. Stack-loaded machines are also excellent for performing drop sets quickly.

Why It’s on the List: Machine presses don’t make you feel like a step down from free weights. Although, the machine press recruits the shoulders far less than free-weight variations like the flat-bench press. This allows you to target your pecs.

In Your Workout: Machine chest exercises prove beneficial and more effective if done at the end of your chest workouts. You can perform sets of at least 8-10 reps, including drop sets or rest-pause sets if you can handle them. Pumping your pecs until they are seriously fatigued is the best way to work out your chest workout strong. 

Push-Up

Push-ups do not require any equipment and can be the counter piece of a home workout. This chest workout is incredibly effective and versatile, with a full range of motion and the ability to tactically target different sections of your chest with hand placements or a few simple elevation changes.

Why It’s on the List: Analytically, it is proved that bench presses and push-ups are similar in both muscle activation and overall muscle gains. This isn't to say that push-ups should be your only exercise, but they should be included in your routine.   

In Your Workout: Perform sets of push-ups to failure. This is a great way to burn out and add volume in the late stages of your workout. Moreover, push-ups also work awesome in a compound set with dips, and a mechanical drop set after flyes or presses. To add more challenge, perform weighted push-ups and push-ups with resistance bands as a primary movement. 

Dips (chest)

Although one of the toughest bodyweight chest exercises, dips are the all-time favorite and have always been a part of gym workout training programs. It is good for reasons like nothing can stretch the chest muscle and make it work like this bodyweight movement. You can add up extra weight with a dip belt if you’re seriously strong. If not, you can acquire machine assistance or use bands to perform this bodyweight chest exercise. Plus, this exercise can be taken as an alternative to the decline press.

Why It’s on the List: On chest day, all forms of dips strike the chest hard. It's important to make sure you're doing dips that target your pecs. Put your feet up behind you, bend forward as much as you can, and dip with your elbows slightly flared out.

In Your Workout: Dips are a wonderful finisher to a pro-level chest day if you can do them for high reps. If you can't, do them in standard strength- or muscle-building rep ranges, such as 6-8 or 8-10 reps, earlier in your session. Dips and push-ups provide a wonderful superset for a large pump towards the end of your workout.

Cable Chest Fly

Finding a way to isolate your pecs after your chest presses? It's time to fly, not literally but somehow. And when it comes to fly variations, cables are the first thing that comes to everyone's mind. However, they allow a continuum of muscle under tension throughout the exercise’s full range of motion.

Why It’s on the List: Cable cross-overs are the most lifters’ go-to for many good reasons. However, you must consider trying a lying version on an incline bench. Although, chest flyes allow you to push further into fatigue or you can do a few drops sets for some real neurotic, muscle-building fun!

In Your Workout: Perform cable chest flyes after your presses, either as your primary isolation move or as the final exercise in your workout. Stick to the higher-rep sets with easy weight, like 10-12 reps or a little higher.  

Dumbbell Pull-Over

Dumbbell pullovers have been a favorite torso builder exercise for a long time. This workout helps or is designed to expand the ribcage. Even dated for so long, this move is still worth standing on a modern chest day.

Why It’s on the List: When you lean toward the incline version, your chest fibers are tense, allowing for a wide range of motion. Take a bench that is 30-45 degrees and keep your elbows at a fixed comfortable angle. Don’t bend and flex them, otherwise, it’ll turn out into a triceps movement.

In Your Workout: Pull-overs should be done towards the end of your workout in sets of 12 reps. Hold the peak contraction of the last exercise for a full 5 seconds on each set.

Machine Fly

The machine chest fly is more effective and harder to screw up than the alternative to dumbbell flyes. Performing this chest exercise is a great move to get a great pump without having to balance any weights or put your shoulders at risk.

Why It’s on the List: Machine fly activates the pectoralis major same as the bench presses. This indicates that, while you'll probably be training in different rep ranges for each exercise, they're both important parts of chest day. What's the big deal? You don't need a spotter for the machine, so you can safely increase the intensity and approach complete muscle failure.

In Your Workout: Hit a few sets of 10-15 reps before your presses, as a pre-exhaust. And hit the machine fly last in your routine for sets of around 10-12 reps, for burnout. Don’t be afraid to perform high-rep sets and to take this movement to failure.

Best Chest Workouts for Building Muscle

Workout 1

  • Barbell Bench Press (4 sets, 6-8 reps with 2-minute rest)
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (3 sets, 8-10 reps with 90-second rest)
  • Cable Cross-Over (3 sets, 10-12 reps with 1-minute rest)
  • Chest Dip (3 sets, 12-15 reps with 90 seconds rest)

Workout 2 (Upper Chest)

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (4 sets, 6-8 reps with 2-minute rest)
  • Compound Set:
    • Incline Cable Chest Fly (3 sets, 10-12 reps with no rest)
    • Decline Push-Up (3 sets, 10-15 reps with 90 seconds rest)
  • Incline Straight-Arm Pull-Over (4 sets, 12 reps with 1-minute rest)

Workout 3 (Machine Chest Pump Workout)

  • Smith Machine Incline Bench Press (3 sets, 10-12 reps with 90-second rest)
  • Machine Chest Press (3 sets, 10-12 reps with 1-minute rest)
  • Dip Machine (3 sets, 10-12 reps with 1-minute rest)
  • Pec Deck Fly (3 sets, 12 reps with 1-minute rest)

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