The Best Chest Workouts for Muscle Mass, Strength, and More | Breaking Muscle

A well-developed chest is a calling card of lifters who’ve spent months, if not years, devoted to arduous coaching. From lifters bench urgent jaw-dropping weight and bodybuilders hitting the basic “aspect chest” pose to newcomers studying the way to do a push-up, chest coaching has at all times been a excessive precedence for anybody trying to construct muscle or take a look at their energy.

Whether or not you may have restricted gear at residence, entry to a completely stocked business gymnasium, or no gear in any respect, you could find an efficient chest exercise to ship the outcomes you’re after. Have a look, select your objective, and get coaching.

The Finest Chest Exercises

  • Finest Chest Exercise With Dumbbells
  • Finest Body weight Chest Exercise 
  • Finest Chest Exercise for Muscle Mass
  • Finest Chest Exercise for Power

Finest Chest Exercise With Dumbbells

Not all lifters have the chance to coach in a business gymnasium and have turned to coaching in a house gymnasium with no matter gear they’ll put collectively. Coaching at residence can have some incomparable advantages. It’s open 24 hours a day on daily basis of the 12 months, the music is rarely grating, and the costume code is extra lenient than most public gyms to the purpose of being totally optionally available for those who’re into that type of factor.

The most important compromise with a house gymnasium is often a scarcity of choices since gear should be prioritized to accommodate restricted flooring house. Dwelling lifters ought to outfit their coaching space with the fundamentals, and infrequently forgo a number of benches devoted to particular angles, outsized cable machines with a collection of pulleys, and all types of standalone single-purpose machines for flyes or presses.

Credit score: Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock

Thankfully, so long as you may have a primary bench and an adjustable dumbbell set or just a few pairs of dumbbells, you may at all times prepare your chest with the appropriate plan. And right here’s the plan to observe.

The Dumbbell-Solely Exercise

This exercise focuses on train selection and methods to extend time below stress to get probably the most profit from restricted gear. Carry out all units of every train earlier than shifting to the following train, and carry out the exercise a few times per week relying in your general coaching cut up.

Single-Arm Flat Dumbbell Press

  • How one can Do it: Lie on a flat bench as if performing a regular dumbbell bench press, with a dumbbell in just one hand. The one-arm component makes this unilateral train an intense core drill whereas additionally recruiting the chest considerably.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 6-8 per aspect
  • Relaxation time: No relaxation between sides, 45 seconds relaxation between units.

Impartial-Grip Incline Dumbbell Press

  • How one can Do it: Set the bench to an incline angle. If the bench can’t modify, place blocks or weight plates below the toes to raise one aspect a number of inches. Preserve the arms dealing with one another, not dealing with your toes, to barely lower shoulder stress and enhance pec recruitment.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 10-12
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

Flat Dumbbell Press With Pause

  • How one can Do it: Carry out the basic flat dumbbell bench press, whereas pausing within the backside (stretched) place of every rep for 2 seconds.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 8-10
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

Finest Body weight Chest Exercise 

Typically having no gear to coach with is usually a blessing in disguise. It forces you to be artistic in program design, assume exterior the field, and buckle all the way down to concentrate on solely the best workouts.

Body weight coaching has a foul popularity for being “lesser than” coaching with free weights, but when you already know what you’re doing and really push your self with the appropriate actions, you’ll by no means name body weight coaching “simple” once more.

The Brutally Easy Body weight Exercise

While you consider “body weight chest train”, you consider push-ups. You may additionally consider dips, however technically you want dip bars for these, so that they’re not actually a bodyweight-only train.

This exercise couldn’t be extra simple. Do 100 push-ups, regardless of how lengthy it takes. Three to 5 days later, do 100 push-ups once more however get them finished in much less time. It’s primary density coaching — get the identical quantity of labor finished in much less time or do extra work in the identical period of time.

Bald man wearing headphones performing push-ups outdoors
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As a result of 100 is a pleasant spherical quantity, that’s the stationary goal and also you’ll concentrate on shaving down the time every session. Additionally, it’s simply kinda cool to have the ability to say, “I knocked out 100 push-ups this morning.” Knocking out 105 push-ups sounds unusual.

Essentially the most essential component right here is that, regardless of how fatigued you might be, you can’t sacrifice type to squeeze out ugly reps. It’s 100 perfect-technique push-ups, not 36 good push-ups adopted by 64 half-reps. Every rep ought to have the chest almost touching the ground (relying in your shoulder mobility) on the backside and arms locked out on the prime.


  • How one can Do it: Help your physique in your toes and arms, along with your arms set barely exterior shoulder-width. Whereas maintaining a straight line out of your neck to your ankles throughout every rep, bend your elbows to decrease your total physique, and press to full lockout. To cut back shoulder joint pressure, intention your elbows extra in direction of your toes than your shoulders.
  • Units and Reps: 100 reps whole, damaged down into as many or as few units as essential till completion.
  • Relaxation time: Relaxation as wanted. Begin a timer instantly earlier than starting the primary rep and cease the timer instantly after finishing the final rep. File the full time and intention to enhance by one second or extra every exercise.

Finest Chest Exercise for Muscle Mass

A muscle-building chest exercise is a bodybuilder’s bread and butter. The standard lifter will reluctantly trudge by their leg day however channel that lack of enthusiasm into chest day, and that’s A-okay so long as they get their work finished in every session.

Chest Day, Finest Day

It is a time-tested, bodybuilding-style method to coaching. Attacking a physique half with a number of workouts and totally different angles, taking every set proper as much as muscular failure with high-intensity methods, and ideally getting a critical pump within the goal muscle by the tip of the session.

Bodybuilder flexing chest and arm muscles
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This specific exercise can standalone for a chest-only session or it may be adopted by coaching the shoulders and triceps as a part of a “pushing muscle” day. You may also get an entire higher physique exercise by coaching again instantly earlier than chest or interspersing the workouts as supersets. 


  • How one can Do it: Start on the prime place on a set of dip bars. Emphasize chest recruitment and stretch by leaning your higher physique ahead (not staying upright) as you bend your elbows and decrease so far as mobility permits. Pause briefly earlier than urgent again up.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 8-12
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds between units.

Pec-Deck With One-and-a-Half Reps

  • How one can Do it: On a pec-deck machine, set the seat so your arms are gripping the handles beneath shoulder top and in-line along with your mid-chest. Carry out every set utilizing the “one and a half rep” approach by reducing the load right into a full stretch, elevating the load to full contraction, then reducing the load midway down, bringing it as much as full contraction once more, and at last reducing it totally. That’s counted as one full rep.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 8-10
  • Relaxation time: No relaxation earlier than shifting to the following train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • How one can Do it: Take a past shoulder-width grip and decrease the bar in-line with the mid-chest. If shoulder mobility permits, contact the bar to your chest briefly earlier than urgent upwards. Remember that the earlier train could have pre-exhausted the chest muscular tissues they usually’re starting this train already fatigued. Select an applicable weight and use a spotter if potential.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 8-12
  • Relaxation time: 90 seconds relaxation earlier than returning to the earlier train.

Smith Machine Incline Press

  • How one can Do it: Place a 30 or 45-degree incline bench below a Smith machine so the bar is lined up along with your higher chest/collarbone space. Grip the bar barely wider than the flat barbell bench press grip. Carry out repetitions easily with no pause at lockout or within the stretch place, bringing the bar to at the very least chin-level on the backside.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 12-15
  • Relaxation time: 45 seconds between units.

Finest Chest Exercise For Power

“How a lot ‘ya bench?” may as effectively be gym-speak for “Hello, how are you?” It’s requested as typically and it’s answered as truthfully. Everybody’s at all times “effective, thanks” and everybody at all times benches “round 300.”

Whatever the questionable popularity as an ego carry, the bench press is a real evaluation of higher physique urgent energy. Constructing a robust and highly effective chest is, has, and can at all times be a precedence for many devoted lifters. Right here’s a easy and efficient plan to construct critical urgent energy.

The Greater Bench Plan

A chest-focused energy exercise will, appropriately, be centered across the flat barbell bench press. It’s one of many basic “huge three” powerlifts for a purpose, as a result of it’s one of many only a few methods to maneuver important weight with an higher physique press.

Hand holding a barbell loaded with very heavy weights
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The once-a-week exercise makes use of science-based explosive coaching, often known as “post-activation potentiation”, to enhance energy output on the bench press, adopted by particular accent workouts to construct energy within the chest and urgent muscular tissues. (1)(2)(3)

Plyometric Push-up

  • How one can Do it: From a primary push-up place (arms and toes touching the bottom, with a straight line from neck to ankles), descend below management to the underside place and explode upwards with most drive. The arms ought to depart the bottom briefly. Catch your self and pause on the prime earlier than performing the following rep.
  • Units and Reps: 5 x 5
  • Relaxation time: 60 seconds earlier than shifting to the following train.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • How one can Do it: Take a past shoulder-width grip and decrease the bar in-line with the mid-chest. If shoulder mobility permits, contact the bar to your chest briefly earlier than urgent upwards. Pause at full lockout briefly earlier than reducing the bar below management.
  • Units and Reps: 5 x 3
  • Relaxation time: Three minutes earlier than returning to the primary train.

Flooring Press

  • How one can Do it: Lie on the ground with a bar set in a rack at arms size above your head. Preserve the legs straight all through the set. Unrack the bar and decrease below management till your elbows delicately contact the bottom (don’t slam the load down). Pause with the elbows on the bottom for one second earlier than urgent to full lockout.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 4-6
  • Relaxation time: Three minutes between units.


  • How one can Do it: Start on the prime place on a set of dip bars. Bend your elbows and decrease to the underside of the rep. The torso could also be barely upright through the motion to contain the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Pause briefly earlier than urgent again up. Improve resistance with a weight belt, weighted vest, or by squeezing a dumbbell between your thighs above your knees.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 6-8
  • Relaxation time: Two minutes between units.

The Chest Muscle mass

Many lifters design chest exercises with the intention of coaching “all elements of the chest”. That method can definitely be efficient, nevertheless it first requires figuring out precisely what does, and what doesn’t, make up “all elements of the chest.” Right here’s a fast and helpful lesson in useful anatomy.

Pectoralis Main

The pec main is the muscle everybody merely refers to as “the chest”. It’s the big chunk of muscle on the higher torso, above the abs and beneath the neck. Widespread bodybuilding lore says the physique half is split into the “higher chest”, “mid chest”, “decrease chest”, “internal chest” and “outer chest”, whereas claiming every part could be focused by particular workouts. That is improper. Or at the very least, it’s an enormous misinterpretation of how the physique truly works.

Diagram of the human body focusing on the chest muscle
Credit score: Magic mine / Shutterstock

The pec main is one muscle, similar to the biceps are one muscle. Nonetheless, similar to the biceps embody a number of heads which could be recruited in another way to contribute to barely totally different general development, the pec main accommodates two heads — the sternocostal and the clavicular.

The sternocostal head is chargeable for the overwhelming majority of motion and is recruited in all urgent workouts. The clavicular head is the area generally known as “higher chest” and has been proven to be recruited extra effectively with workouts finished at a 30 or 45-degree incline. (4) (5).

So, anatomically talking, there’s “the higher chest” and “the remainder of the chest”. Nearly all of workouts will work each heads, whereas inclined workouts prioritize the higher chest, and anybody who talks about concentrating on the “internal chest” or “outer-lower chest sweep” isn’t actually speaking about coaching the human physique.

Pectoralis Minor

The pec minor lives beneath the pec main and attaches to the scapula (shoulder blade) to play a job in scapular motion. It’s concerned in almost each chest train, however is particularly known as into motion when the scapulae transfer ahead, resembling throughout a push-up or chest press train.

Because of its comparatively small measurement, location, and performance, it’s not more likely to expertise important (or seen) muscle development however serves a useful position for general joint perform and well being.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior is the finger-like cluster of muscular tissues barely beneath the chest, alongside the aspect of the ribs. Just like the pec minor, they connect to the scapulae and play a job in scapular motion, stability, and well being. (6) The serratus can also be concerned throughout chest urgent workouts, significantly towards the lockout place when/if the scapulae are allowed to “flex” ahead (protraction).

Serratus muscle development is minimal, however when the muscular tissues are developed, and significantly when accompanied by low physique fats, they could be a noticeable addition to a formidable physique.

A Chest Heat-Up is Important

Regardless of your objective or coaching plan, a particular chest warm-up can assist to enhance general efficiency and cut back the danger of damage. Pec tears, shoulder strains, and extreme elbow stress can happen when poorly deliberate exercises mix with insufficient warm-ups.

Man in gym holding injured chest muscle
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A radical and efficient warm-up could be time-efficient with out compromising on advantages. Seize a resistance band and use this fast circuit to begin any chest session.

The Full Chest Heat-Up Circuit

  • Sluggish Push-up Plus: Carry out a primary push-up taking two seconds to decrease your physique and two seconds to press up. When your arms are locked on the prime of every rep, proceed “urgent” to succeed in the shoulder blades in direction of the bottom earlier than performing the following rep (this added vary of movement is the “plus” a part of a “push-up plus”). Do three repetitions earlier than shifting instantly to the following train.
  • Push-up Plank Shoulder Faucet: From the highest of a push-up place, unfold your toes barely wider for assist and alternate touching every shoulder with the other hand. Carry out 10 reps whole, alternating every hand, earlier than shifting instantly to the following train.
  • Band Pull-Aside: Take a resistance band with a palms-down grip, holding the band at arms-length in entrance of your physique. Maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, pull each arms again to carry out a reverse flye motion along with your shoulders and higher again till the band touches your chest. Return to the beginning place below management. Carry out 10 reps earlier than repeating the primary train. Do a complete of 4 units of the whole circuit.

Highly effective, Excessive-Efficiency Pecs

Whether or not you wish to bench press a bike, construct a beach-worthy physique, or simply get a fantastic exercise at residence or on the street, you’re now armed with loads of choices to coach what’s arguably the most well-liked physique half within the gymnasium. Simply remember to observe a well-designed plan and by no means let your ego write checks your joints can’t money.


  1. Krzysztofik, M., & Wilk, M. (2020). The Results of Plyometric Conditioning on Put up-Activation Bench Press Efficiency. Journal of human kinetics, 74, 99–108. 
  2. G, Parstorfer M. Results of Plyometric Versus Concentric and Eccentric Conditioning Contractions on Higher-Physique Postactivation Potentiation. Int J Sports activities Physiol Carry out. 2017 Jul;12(6):736-741. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0278. Epub 2016 Oct 13. PMID: 27736266.
  3. Clark, Ross A1,3; Humphries, Brendan2; Hohmann, Erik3,4; Bryant, Adam L1 The Affect of Variable Vary of Movement Coaching on Neuromuscular Efficiency and Management of Exterior Masses, Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis: March 2011 – Quantity 25 – Subject 3 – p 704-711 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c6a0ff
  4. Lauver JD, Cayot TE, Scheuermann BW. Affect of bench angle on higher extremity muscular activation throughout bench press train. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(3):309-16. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2015.1022605. Epub 2015 Mar 23. PMID: 25799093.
  5. Rodríguez-Ridao, D., Antequera-Vique, J. A., Martín-Fuentes, I., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Impact of 5 Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Exercise of the Pectoralis Main, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii through the Bench Press Train. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being, 17(19), 7339.
  6. Castelein B, Cagnie B, Parlevliet T, Cools A. Serratus anterior or pectoralis minor: Which muscle has the higher hand throughout protraction workouts? Man Ther. 2016 Apr;22:158-64. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.12.002. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PMID: 26749459.

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