11 Best Chest Exercises for Muscle Growth and Size

(Last Updated On: June 22, 2022)

best chest exercises

Are you looking to build chest size and strength? If so, you’re in luck! There are a number of great chest exercises that can help you achieve your goals.

This post will discuss some of the best muscle-building chest exercises to add to your chest workout. We’ll also provide tips on how to perform these exercises properly. So, if you’re ready to start sculpting your chest muscles, keep reading!

 

Best Chest Exercises for Muscle Mass

Here are the best muscle-building chest exercises starting with the best muscle builders down to the least.

Incline Dumbell Bench Press

incline dumbbell press

If you are looking to add muscle mass, there are a lot of good exercises to choose from. In our opinion, the incline dumbbell press is slightly ahead of the rest when it comes to building muscle.

This is because the incline works the upper chest better than the flat bench press and most people have trouble developing the upper chest. The dumbbells also allow for a better range of motion than you would get with a barbell.

How to Perform the Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

  • Start by sitting on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Make sure to arch your back and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • Once you are in position, press the weights up until your arms are fully extended pause for a moment and then lower the weights back to the starting position.
  • You can also rotate the dumbbells inward while you raise them if you like to work the muscle a bit more
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.



 

Dumbbell Bench Press

dumbbell bench press

The dumbbell bench press is another great mass builder. This exercise hits the entire chest rather than the upper portion like the incline press does.

Again, using dumbbells gives you a better range of motion than a barbell would. Using dumbbells is also a lot easier on your shoulders. The barbells can do a number on you as the years go by.

How to perform the Dumbbell Bench Press

  • Start by lying flat on a bench with a weight in each hand.
  • Once you are in position, press the weights up until your arms are fully extended. Pause for a moment and then lower the weights back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

 

Related: The 13 Best Exercises for Bigger Biceps

 

Dips

best chest exercises for muscle mass

Dips are one of the most underrated muscle-building exercises out that. Not only do they build muscle in your chest and triceps, but they also help improve your shoulder stability.

Dips can be performed with just your body weight or you can add weight if you need to make them more difficult.

How to Perform Dips:

  • Start by holding on to a dip bar with your arms extended.
  • Slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Once you reach the bottom position, press back up until your arms are fully extended. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

 

Incline Barbell Bench Press

incline bench press

Next up we have the barbell incline bench press, it is basically the same exercise as the incline dumbbell press except that you are using a barbell instead of a dumbbell. This is another good exercise for hitting the upper chest.I also find it to be a little bit easier on the shoulder than the traditional bench press is.

If you are just starting out, I would go pretty light on the incline press the first time, it can be pretty weird to bench on an incline if you are used to only using a flat bench, and the weight can be hard to control.

How to Perform the Incline Bench Press:

  • Start by setting an incline bench to around 30-45 degrees. 30 degrees is the traditional angle most people use.
  • Once you have the bench set up, lie down on it and grab the barbell with an overhand grip.
  • From there, press the barbell up until your arms are fully extended and then lower it back down to the starting position.



 

Barbell Bench Press

bench press beast

Here we are at my favorite exercise overall, the barbell bench press, what some would call the king of the upper body exercises. The bench press is great for building mass and strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Bench Press as a Measure of Strength

The Bench press is still the go-to measure of upper body strength for athletes. All athletes at the NFL Combine perform the bench press for as many reps as possible with 225 lbs. If you are wondering, the record for the most reps of 225 lbs at the combine is 51 by Justin Ernest, a defensive tackle from Eastern Kentucky back in 1999. Unfortunately, Justin Ernest never made it on an NFL roster. Setting the bench press rocord is his only claim to fame, which is pretty cool, actually.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a video if him doing the 51 reps but here is Stephen Paea hitting 49 reps back in 2011. The video says he “breaks the record since 2000” which is pretty corny, records before the year 2000 still count. No wonder they turned the comments off on that video, it’s not the record no matter how hard they pretend.

How to Perform the Flat Barbell Bench Press:

  • Start by lying flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together to enhance stability and upper back strength.
  • Once you are in position, grab the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width and unrack it.
  • From there, lower the barbell down to your mid-chest, pause for a moment, and then press it back up until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

 

Related: 10 Best Olympic Benches for Home Gyms

 

Push-Ups

Push-ups are another great chest exercise that can be performed anywhere and at any time just using your own body weight.

There are many ways you can do push-ups to target different muscle groups in your chest.

One of the great things about push-ups is that you can make them as easy or difficult as you want by simply changing the hand position.

If you want to make them easier, you can do them from your knees instead of your feet. Or you can elevate your feet to make them more difficult.

If you want to get really crazy you can even do one-handed push-ups and really impress your friends.

How to Perform Push-Ups:

  • Start in the standard push-up position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width. You can vary your hand width and feet elevation as needed.
  • From there, lower yourself down until your chest is just above the ground. pause for a moment and then press back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

 

Decline Bench Press

decline bench press

The decline bench press is very similar to the flat bench press, except that you are elevated on a bench with your feet higher than your head.

This slight change in position allows you to target different muscle groups within your chest, especially the lower chest. Most people don’t have trouble building muscle in the lower chest, but this would be the best exercise if you do.

Doing declines gives you a different angle when you are pressing the weight, which can help to reduce stress on your joints. It is certainly more joint-friendly than the flat bench press.

If you have never done a decline bench before, I would go with some really light weight the first time you do. The angle can be weird and takes some getting used to.

How to Perform the Decline Bench Press:

  • Start by lying down on a decline bench with your feet secured to the bench.
  • Once you are in position, grab the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width, and unrack it.
  • From there, lower the barbell down to your mid-chest pause for a moment, and then press it back up until your arms are fully extended.

 

Dumbbells Flyes

dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell flyes are a great exercise for targeting your chest’s outer and inner muscles.

They also allow you to stretch your chest muscles, which can help to increase the range of motion in your chest and reduce the risk of injury.

How to Perform Dumbbell Flyes:

  • Start by lying flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise the dumbbells until they are level with your chest and then open your arms wide while keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Pause for a moment and then slowly bring the weights back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.



 

Cable Crossovers

cable crossovers

Cable crossovers are a great exercise for targeting your chest muscles, especially the inner muscle fibers.

They are also a good exercise for increasing the range of motion in your chest and improving your flexibility.

How to Perform Cable Crossovers:

  • Start by attaching a high pulley to each side of a cable machine.
  • Choose the weight you want to use and then stand in between the two pulleys.
  • Grab each handle with the opposite hand (left hand to right pulley and right hand to left pulley) and then bring your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Pause for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position.

 

Dumbbell Pullovers

This is an old-school exercise you don’t see very often anymore, but it is great for the chest.

It targets the muscle fibers in your chest, but it also works your lats, shoulders, and triceps.

How to Perform Dumbbell Pullovers:

  • Using a medium-to-heavy dumbbell, lay with your back flat on a bench or stability ball.
  • With your feet planted on the ground and your core engaged, extend your arms upward, cupping the dumbbell with both hands above your chest.
  • Keeping your low back pressed into the bench or stability ball, slowly lower your arms overhead until your biceps reach your ears.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to above your chest and repeat.
  • Whatever you do, don’t drop the weight on your face, that would hurt.



 

Pec Deck Flyes

Pec Deck Flyes

The pec deck fly is a great exercise for targeting your chest muscles. It is also a good exercise for improving your range of motion and flexibility.

How to Perform Pec Deck Flyes:

  • Start by sitting down at a pec deck machine and adjusting the seat so that your back is against the pad and your hands are gripping the handles.
  • From there, press your arms together in front of your chest and then slowly fly them out to the side until they are just short of parallel with your body.
  • Pause for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

 

The Chest Muscles Anatomy

chest muscle anatomy

The chest is made up of four main muscle groups: the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor, the serratus anterior, and the subscapularis.

The pectoralis major is the large muscle that makes up the majority of the chest. It is responsible for moving the arm across the body and for adduction (bringing the arm back to the body).

The pectoralis minor is a small muscle located underneath the pectoralis major. It is responsible for moving the shoulder blade forward and down.

The serratus anterior is a muscle that runs along the side of the chest. It is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder blade and for protracting (pushing forward) the arm.

The subscapularis is a muscle located underneath the pectoralis major. It is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint and for internal rotation of the arm.




 

How Often Should You Train Your Chest?

Most experts recommend training your chest two to three times per week. This will give your muscles plenty of time to recover and grow.

If you are just starting out, you may want to train your chest once per week. As you get more comfortable with the exercises and start to see results, you can gradually increase the frequency of your workouts.

best chest exercises

Chest Workouts for Muscle Growth

Here are sample chest workouts for beginner, intermediate and advanced lifters:

Beginner

Monday

  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 3sets of 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Flyes: 2 sets of 10 reps

Thursday

  • Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Crossovers: 2 sets of 10 reps

Monday

  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dips: 3 sets of max reps
  • Dumbbell: Flyes 2 sets of 10 reps

Thursday

  • Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Crossover: 2 Sets of 10 reps

 

Advanced

Monday

  • Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Crossover: 4 sets of 8-12 reps

 

Thursday

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Pullovers: 4 Sets of 10 reps

 

Best Number of Reps Per Set for Muscle Growth

The number of reps you perform per set will have a direct impact on the results you see.

If you are looking to build muscle, it is generally recommended that you perform between eight and 12 reps per set.

This range is known as the muscle-building sweet spot and it is where you will see the best results.

Lower rep ranges don’t build as much muscle but are better for building strength.

 

How Often Should You Train Your Chest?

Most experts recommend training your chest two to three times per week. This will give your muscles plenty of time to recover and grow.

If you are just starting out, you may want to train your chest once per week. As you get more comfortable with the exercises and start to see results, you can gradually increase the frequency of your workouts.

Personally, I feel 2 days a week for chest day is best. This gives you 3-4 days of recovery time which is not too short and not too long.

 

What to Eat For a Bigger Chest

There are two things you need to do in order to build muscle: train hard and eat right.

If you want to see results, you need to make sure you are doing both of these things.

In terms of nutrition, you need to make sure you are eating enough calories and protein.

You should also be focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods.

 

Here is a sample meal plan that you can follow:

Breakfast:

  • Eggs (4): 200 calories, 20g protein
  • Oatmeal (1 cup): 150 calories, 5g protein
  • Banana (1): 105 calories, 1g protein

 

Lunch:

  • Chicken (4 oz): 220 calories, 28g protein
  • Brown rice (1 cup): 120 calories, 5g protein
  • Broccoli (1 cup): 30 calories, 3g protein

 

Dinner:

  • Salmon (4 oz): 240 calories, 24g protein
  • Quinoa (1 cup): 220 calories, 8g protein
  • Asparagus (1 cup): 30 calories, 3g protein

 

Snacks:

  • Protein shake: 200 calories, 20-30g protein
  • Greek yogurt (1 cup): 120 calories, 18g protein
  • Almonds (1/4 cup): 160 calories, 6g protein

 

As you can see, this meal plan is high in calories and protein.

It is also packed with nutrients that will help your body to recover from your workouts and build muscle.

Remember, if you want to see results, you need to be consistent with your training and nutrition.

If you do both of these things, you will see the results you are looking for.

 

Related: 13 Best Foods to Eat for Building the Most Muscle

 




 

Training Techniques to Maximize Chest Growth

There are a few training techniques that you can use to maximize muscle growth.

 

The first is called supersets. This is where you perform two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. For example, you do a set of bench presses followed immediately by a set of dumbbell flyes.

This is a great way to increase the intensity of your workouts and get more out of them. It’s also a great way to save time.

 

Another great technique is forced reps. This is where you have a spotter help you lift the weight for the last few reps of each set after you have gone to failure.

This allows you to push your muscles past their normal limits and really force them to grow.

 

The final technique is drop sets. This is where you perform a set of an exercise until failure, then immediately reduce the weight and continue for another. You can even do this multiple times and really fry your chest if you like.

These techniques aren’t really for beginners, I would only use them for intermediate or advanced lifters.




Final Word

Chest exercises are a great way to improve muscle growth in your chest. In order to see the best results, you should try different exercises and use a weight that is challenging for you. We’ve provided some of our favorite chest exercises for you to try, so get started today! Are there any other chest exercises that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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