Having big pecs is one of the most attractive items on a men's physique. However, the chest is sometimes a hard muscle to train.. too many exercises, and not the right selection.
In this post, we talk about chest anatomy, and the best chest exercises to get big pecs and improve your physique
What are the best chest exercises to get big pecs?
The pectoralis major is composed by two heads; the clavicular head, and the sternocostal head.
The pectoralis minor is found under the pectoralis major. Its main function is to protract and despress the shoulder blades.
Weak pectoralis minor is often the cause of chest pain.
It attaches to the ribs, and serves to stabilize the scapula, the large bone of the shoulder (source)
Functions of Chest
The chest includes some of the largest muscles in our body. We rely on chest muscles to do our normal daily life. Open a door, wash your hair, tie your shoes... the chest is in charge of that.
The chest is responsible for shoulder flexion (moving the arm across the body), shoulder extension, lateral adduction, and other minor movements such as shoulder adduction, or shoulder depression.
Chest exercises will simulate these body movements to estimulate the chest to its fullest.
Chest Exercises with Barbell
The barbell allows you to have more stability throughout the exercise. You can focus more on putting strength on the bar to lift it.
Barbell chest exercises are a great option to put in the beginning of your workout. Lift heavy and give a nice warm up to your chest.
Bench press is the staple of chest exercises. You has tried it before... right?!
Description: Bench press consists of lifting a bar while laying on the bench. As a push exercise, it mainly involves the chest, but also front shoulders and triceps.
Flat Bench Press
The main variant of bench press. One of the three movements of powerlifting, and a lot of fun. It demands of power and strength, being a perfect exercise to put weights on the bar and lift heavy.
Incline Bench Press
This variant focuses on the clavicular head of the chest. By inclining the bench, the push angle now aligns the muscle fibres in the clavicular head.
It also involves to a large extent the front shoulders, and to a lesser extent the triceps.
Decline Bench Press
This chest exercise reduces shoulder flexion to its fullest, focusing mainly on training the chest. It reduces the involvement of front shoulders and/or triceps. It focus mainly on the sternocostal head of the chest.
Landmine Chest Press
This chest exercise with barbell gives you a very nice stability.
By using a bar attached to a floor mount, landmine chest press consists of pushing the bar from the end of it upwards. The lifting profile gets harder as the weight separates from your body. It can be done single arm as well.
Close Grip Bench Press
If you close the grip when doing bench press, the lateral adduction loses importance, and it's the shoulder flexion what primes the movement.
This chest exercise puts more work on the front delts and triceps, as well as in the chest.
Chest Exercises with Dumbbells
Dumbbells are a great option to work on your stability and coordination.
It lets you do the exercise single arm, and they are fun to use. However, the technique when using dumbbells gets a bit harder than with barbells.
Dumbbell Chest Press
Simulating the staple of chest exercises, you can also do bench press using dumbbells.
The coordination gets a bit tricky, but that also activates other muscles that are not activated when doing a normal bench press otherwise.
As when doing normal bench press, you can do it flat, incline, or decline, depending on the muscles you want to focus on.
Dumbbell Chest Flyes
This is a great exercise to burn your chest and make sure you are really working out.
Chest flyes simulate a proper lateral adduction, the strongest movement involving the chest muscles.
Due to the movement profile, the exercise gets the hardest when the chest is the strongest. This makes sure the limiting factor during the exercise is the chest, and you'll be able to take the chest to real failure.
Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Press
One of the main advantages of using dumbbells is being able to do any exercise in its single arm form.
This will make sure you don't develop any unbalance between both sides of your body.
Stabilization is important here, activating to a large extent the stabilizer muscles.
Dumbbell pullover is an exercise involving a long list of muscles in the upper body. Since it has two differentiated movement patterns, it works on both chest and back muscles.
During the first part, the main muscle activated is the back, while chest and front delts are targeted in the second half of the movement.
Chest Exercises with Cables
Cables are another choice to target the chest. Using cables makes the exercise much easier, and you only need to think on pushing, and not stabilizing the movement.
Cables are a great option to include at the end of the workout. These chest exercises are less demanding, and they don't require of you being fresh to perform the right technique.
Cable Chest Press
You can do bench press with barbells, dumbbells... and also cables.
Chest press with cables maximizes the stability profile of the exercise. Taking the cables, you only need to push the cables forward without having to think on stabilizing the bar, or dumbbell.
Cross-overs are one of the staple chest exercises. Focus the work on chest, and shoulders, mainly.
Doing the cross-over with cables gives you more resistance throughout the entire movement, activating more the working muscles.
Cable Chest Flyes
Doing the chest flyes on the cables gives you a better resistance profile.
The cable is in constant tension throughout the entire movement. This activates the chest to a larger extent, thus being a better option to train your chest.
Low Cable Flyes
Taking the cables from the ground and pushing them all the way to your forehead is truly a shoulder flexion.
The hardest part of the movement is when the cables reach the height of your chest. These are great news, since it activates the chest to a large extent. This chest exercises is a great option to train both front delts and chest.
High Cable Flyes
In comparison with low cable flyes, high cable flyes simulate a lateral adduction.
This focus the exercise more on the chest, minimizing the work on the shoulders and triceps.
Other Chest Exercises
Last, but not least, there are great machines to train your chest.
Although it depends on the maker, these machines gives you huge stability, guide the movement, and allow for doing single arm as well. Try them out!!
One of the best chest exercises. It simulates a lateral adduction, and keeps constant tension throughout the entire movement.
This chest exercises aims for the chest and front delts, mainly. It's a great option to train your chest!
Chest Press Machines
If you are lucky, your gym will have a great chest press machine waiting for you
If the machine is designed well, the resistance profile will be thought to train the chest to its fullest.
As the movement is guided, you'll only have to think on putting the strength required... and push!!
The chest is one of the most attractive and largest muscles in your body. It's in charge of a lot of daily actions in our lifes.
The main body movements in charge of doing the chest are shoulder flexion, shoulder extension, and lateral adduction. Simulating these through chest exercises will enable to train the chest to a large extent.
In this post, we have seen the best chest exercises to train and kill those pecs!!