There are plenty of good reasons to complete your chest exercises, only some of which relate to your aspirations. The chest is composed of some of the largest muscles in your body, and even when you’re not in the gym, you use them all the time.
The sheer volume of exercises. though—and the sanctity with which every gym rat learns to treat their chest day—can make it tough to know what, exactly, to do, or if you’re doing those things right.
We share what we think are the best bets for building bulk and perking pecs. As is the case with most group-specific training, you can work your chest on up to three non-consecutive days each week. You’ll be stacking those plates in no time.
Arnold chest press:
Equipment: Heavy set of dumbbells.
Tip: Really slow down the chest press in the eccentric phase—as the weights are being lowered. It helps to focus on the muscles as they lengthen, instead of as they contract, which results in a stronger and more powerful chest.
- Start by lying flat on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand, pressed directly overhead with your palms facing towards your feet.
- Lower the weights down towards the chest while rotating your wrists clockwise, so that the palms face your face at the bottom of the movement.
- Slowly return to the starting position for one rep.
- Do three sets of six reps.
Equipment: Two five-pound plates.
Tip: Make sure the plates are moving in the same horizontal plane throughout the movement. Also, maintain tension in your chest throughout both the push and pull movements.
- Start standing with your feet at shoulder-width distance, shoulders back, and two five-pound plates pressed against one another at chest height.
- Inhale, then press the plates directly out in front of you.
- When your elbows are fully extended, squeeze through your chest, lift up slightly, and pause.
- Then, squeeze the middle of the plates and return to the starting position.
- That’s one rep.
- Do three sets of 15.
Equipment: A medium-heavy pair of dumbbells.
Tip: Give an extra squeeze to your weights at the top of each rep. That way, you’re keeping constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire exercise.
- Lie flat on a bench holding two dumbbells directly above your chest, palms facing in, and weights touching one another.
- With a slight bend at the elbows, lower the weights toward your sides, making sure to keep your palms facing in.
- Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement, then exhale and return to start.
- Do three sets of 16 reps.
Equipment: Parallel bars.
Tip: If you’re having a hard time supporting your whole body, use an assisted dip machine with a knee platform. These machines use a weight pulley system that lightens your body weight. You can also place your feet lightly on the ground (behind the body) to assist your dip.
- While keeping your feet on the ground, grasp the bars and lock out your arms until you’ve found a comfortable starting position.
- Then, lift your legs off the ground and lean slightly forward.
- Lower your body towards the floor, allowing your elbows to flare a little until you feel the stretch in your chest.
- At that point, press your body back up, squeezing using the chest.
- Do three sets of 10 reps.