There’s a whole treasure trove full of workouts and exercises to be uncovered to blast the chest that can sculpt your pecs and push your upper body training days to the next level.
Here are 6 of the best chest exercises to do just that. Choose two or three to work into your routine, and for best results, rotate in new movements every 3 or 4 weeks.
Dumbbell Squeeze Press
Squeezing the weights together during a chest press shifts all the stress onto your pectorals. This simple tweak engages them throughout the entire range of motion, which is a key factor in maximizing muscle growth.
Do it: Lie on a bench holding a pair of dumbbells with your arms straight above your chest, palms facing together. Let the weights touch and squeeze them together as hard as possible. Maintain this squeeze the entire time, making sure the dumbbells stay in contact with each other. Lower the weights to the sides of your chest, and then push them back up to the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Pressing from an incline works the clavicular head of your chest, says Brad Schoenfeld, C.S.C.S., Ph.D. Working that muscle—which resides high on your chest—gives your pecs extra pop.
Do it: Lie on a bench with the backrest set at a 45-degree incline. Hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight and your palms turned toward your feet. Lower the dumbbells to chest level, and then press them back up to the starting position
Adding weight to the classic exercise forces your muscles to work harder and keeps your rep range low enough that you’ll pack on serious muscle, Jason Hartman, C.S.C.S., a trainer for the U.S. Special Forces. Add load in the form of a plate, weight vest, or sandbag thrown over your back.
Do it: Assume a pushup position wearing a weight vest or with a sandbag draped over your upper back or a weight plate balanced on your upper back. Your arms should be straight and hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Bend at your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, and push your body back up.
Close-Grip Bench Press
You can lift more weight with a barbell than with dumbbells because they’re more stable. That’s why barbell presses generally build more raw strength in your chest. To protect your shoulders, strength coach Bret Contreras, C.S.C.S., recommends using a close grip—that is, placing your hands just outside of shoulder width.
“This is the most joint-friendly barbell variation of the bench press, allowing people with shoulder issues to still reap the benefits of pressing,” Contreras says.
Do it: Using an overhand grip that’s a bit narrower than shoulder width, hold a barbell above your sternum with your arms straight. Lower the bar to your chest. Hold for 1 second. Press the bar up.
Chest Squeeze Pushup
This exercise tasks you with squeezing a pair of dumbbells together while doing a pushup. “The squeezing action creates a stimulus that really fires up the muscle fibers in your chest,” says BJ Gaddour, Men’s Health Fitness Advisor.
Do it: Place two dumbbells next to each other so that they’re touching with the handles are parallel to each other. Assume a standard pushup position, grabbing a dumbbell handle with each hand. Your arms should be straight and your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Forcefully press the weights together, and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the dumbbells. Push your body back up and repeat, but don’t stop “squeezing” the dumbbells together.
When it comes to working their pecs, most guys just press. Adding the fly to your routine gives your pecs and front deltoids a new stimulus.
“I like using cables for this because they provide constant tension throughout the entire movement,” says Schoenfeld.
Do it: Attach two stirrup handles to the high-pulley cables of a cable-crossover station. Grab a handle with each hand, and stand in a staggered stance in the middle of the station. Your arms should be outstretched but slightly bent. Lean forward slightly at your hips; don’t round your back. Without changing the bend in your arms, bring your hands together. Slowly reverse the movement
Here are the best abdominal exercises to pair with your chest workout