If you’re looking to build a big and powerful physique, you need to ensure that you focus on all of your major muscle groups. It’s no use ignoring your least-favourite muscle groups in favour of the ones that you prefer to train, as that is just asking for an unsymmetrical physique. When it comes to building a muscular physique, it’s important to really focus on your pecs and work on the chest. Some of the all-time greats from the bodybuilding world are renowned for their amazing chests, with Ronnie Coleman and arguably the greatest of all time Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, all being prime examples. If your chest is one of your more stubborn body parts when it comes to muscle growth, it may be worth switching up your training and trying new things. Here’s a look at our top 4 exercises for building a massive and powerful chest.
Flat bench barbell bench press
If it’s muscle mass you’re looking for, the barbell bench press is arguably the most effective chest exercise that you could ever wish for. It is an exercise that is synonymous with chest day, and in fact, it’s an exercise that is synonymous with resistance training as a whole. The flat bench barbell bench press is fantastic for building muscle because it is a compound exercise that works the upper, lower, and middle parts of the chest to some degree. What’s more, it also hits the triceps and can therefore help with your pressing power which will help you during other exercises. To perform the flat bench barbell bench press:
- Begin by laying down on a flat bench underneath a barbell, loaded with weight that you know that you’re comfortable with lifting.
- Keeping your back on the bench (no arching, we’re not powerlifting today) grasp the bar with an overhand grip with your palms roughly 4 – 6 inches wider than shoulder width.
- Lift the bar off the rack and slowly lower it down until it grazes your chest. Do not bounce it. Hold for a second and press the bar back into the air until your arms are fully-extended.
- Repeat for as many reps as required, and re-rack the barbell when you are finished.
Incline dumbbell flyes
The dumbbell flye was one of Arnie’s favourite chest exercises, and although he would often prefer flat flyes, a lot of bodybuilders prefer to perform them on an incline as they get a better squeeze and muscle contraction that way. Dumbbell flyes are all about squeezing and isolating the pectoral muscle, so forget trying to train heavy and instead focus on using weights that you are comfortable with. To perform this exercise properly:
- Take a dumbbell in each hand, settle yourself into a bench set at an incline, and get comfortable.
- Once comfortable, extend both hands up into the air, keeping your elbows bent very slightly.
- Now, rotate both of your wrists so that your palms are facing you, with both pinky fingers level with one another.
- Now, bring both arms down to your sides, ensuring your arms remain extended. Rotate your wrists as you bring the dumbbells down, so that your palms are now facing into the air.
- Hold for a second and really focus on squeezing the pecs, before bringing your arms back into the air and getting back to the initial starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as required.
Incline dumbbell press
For a lot of people, the upper chest is a tough part of the anatomy to target. If you’re looking to build a thick and full chest, you need to ensure that you really focus on targeting the upper-portion of the muscle. This is where incline dumbbell presses prove to be so effective. You can of course, perform this exercise on a flat bench, or even with a barbell rather than dumbbells. With dumbbells however, you can get a better squeeze and better range of motion, so we’re looking at this variant of the exercise. To perform incline dumbbell presses:
- Set a bench to an incline, take a dumbbell in each hand, sit down on the bench, and rest each dumbbell comfortably on your thigh.
- Now, lift one dumbbell at a time until you can hold them both at shoulder width. Use your thighs to help lift the dumbbells if you’re struggling.
- Rotate your wrists so that your palms face away from you and face up into the air.
- Now, take a deep breath and press both dumbbells up into the air, not quite fully locking out your elbows.
- Hold for a second, slowly lower the dumbbells down to the starting position, and repeat for as many reps as required.
- When you finish, rather than dropping the dumbbells onto the floor, place them onto your thighs and then onto the ground. This is safer for your joints, and for the floor and the dumbbells.
Who says that you need heavy weights to build muscle? Sometimes, all you need is a little open space and your own body weight. Push ups are fantastic for building muscle in the chest, and they work incredibly well as a finisher exercise to really exhaust the chest at the end of your training session. To perform push ups you should:
- Begin by laying face down on the ground, with your hands around three feet apart and your torso held up at arms length.
- Now, slowly lower yourself down to the ground until your chest grazes the floor, or gets as close to the floor as you can get it.
- Exhale, and then push your body upwards, back to the starting position, holding for a second while contracted.
- Repeat for as many reps as required.
You can bring your palms closer together to help add additional resistance to the triceps.