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Top Chest Exercises

July 08, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 207

Wow. I don't even know where to start! Picking the top chest exercises is so difficult because there are so many great chest exercises to choose from! For the sake of this article, I will choose the pec exercises that have helped me gain the most strength and muscle throughout the last 12 years of lifting weights.


Gotta start with the basics! I think most fitness experts would agree that pushups are one of the top chest exercises you can do. The great thing about pushups is that you can do them practically anywhere! Pushups are not only great chest exercises to build strength and mass in the chest, but core strength as well. Being that pushups are performed in the plank position, nearly every muscle in your trunk is being used to hold yourself in that position.

Eventually, pushups will become too easy. If you can do 50 pushups or more, it is probably time to increase the difficultly level otherwise you will start to plateau. Here are a few different variations of pushups you can use to increase difficulty:

1. Weighted pushups: Weighted pushups are pushups performed with added resistance. Sounds easy enough right? The most convenient way to do a weighted pushup is by using a weight vest. If using a weight vest gets too easy, start using people. Huh? You heard me! One of my favorite ways to do pushups is when my wife is laying on my back face down with her arms wrapped around me. Did you know rumors say Bruce Lee was able to do pushups with 250 lbs of resistance?

2. Plyo pushups: Plyo pushups are one of the best chest exercises you can do to explosive strength in the chest. Also referred to as clap pushups, plyo pushups are performed by starting out in standard pushup position and explosively pushing your self up so that your hands leave the ground. After your hands touch back down immediately repeat the next repetition by bending the elbows and explosively pushing off of the ground. The more advanced plyo pushup version includes clapping your hands together in the air after your hands leave the ground.

3. Suspended pushups: Suspended pushups can be done using TRX suspension trainer or an equivalent. To do a suspended pushup, you can either place your feet in the suspension straps or your hands. Both are excellent pec exercises that work the abdominal muscles as well.

4. Diamond pushups: Diamond pushups are just another variation of a close grip pushup. However, they are called diamond pushups because your index fingers and thumbs should be touching making a diamond like shape. Diamond pushups are one of the best chest exercises you can do to target the triceps.

5. Wide grip pushups: Wide grip pushups are one of the top chest exercises you can do and for justified reasons. They are performed exactly as the name indicates: with a wider than shoulder width grip. Wide grip pushups are more difficult than standard pushups because your hands are farther apart giving you less leverage to push with.

6. Dive bomber pushups: Dive bomber pushups are one of the best chest exercises because they work not only the pecs, but also your shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, and lower back as well.

Chest Dips

I have nothing but good things to say about chest dips. It is by far one of the best exercises for chest you can do. Chest dips primarily target the pectoral muscles, triceps and anterior deltoids, although the biceps, forearms, and lower back are engaged as well. Additionally, chest dips force you to use the stabilizing muscles as well as you balance your body on the dip bar. If your own bodyweight becomes too easy, add weight to a dip belt. That's when chest dips really become fun!

To perform chest dips:

1. Position yourself in between a parallel dip bar grasping each handle with your hands

2. Raise yourself onto the parallel dip bar with elbows locked

3. Lower your body until your shoulders are lower than your elbows (or whatever feels most comfortable) with the elbows flared out

4. Forcefully push your body back up and lock the elbows out

5. You have completed a chest dip!

Now, chest dips can be quite strenuous on the anterior deltoids. So, if you are experiencing an abnormal amount of shoulder pain see a doctor. Personally, I have never experienced shoulder pain and I have done chest dips with 135 pounds hanging from my waist. However, someone with a prior shoulder injury may react differently. It's always best to let your body tell you whether or not you should be doing a certain exercise. Typically, if you experience an abnormal amount of pain your body is probably telling you to STOP!

Dumbbell Bench Press

If you have never done a dumbbell bench press before, you are seriously missing out! It is one of the best chest exercises because it not only targets the pectoral muscle, triceps, and anterior deltoids, but the stabilizing muscles in the arms as well. Additionally, the dumbbell bench press exercise, as opposed to the barbell bench press, allows you to achieve a greater range of motion.

To perform a dumbbell bench press:

1. Start out sitting on a flat bench holding the dumbbells on your lower thigh

2. Slowly lay back on the beach as you bring the weight towards your shoulders

3. Position the dumbbells to the sides of your chest ensuring your upper arm is parallel to the floor

4. Press the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended and pause for a second

5. Slowly and in a controlled manner lower the weights back down to the sides of your chest ensuring the upper arm is parallel to the floor

Barbell Bench Press

How can I write an article about the top chest exercises without including the barbell bench press? I can't! The barbell bench press has to be one of the most popular exercises ever invented. One of the most common questions I hear in the gym is "how much can you bench?" I know it's pretty lame but people ask it!

The barbell bench press, when performed correctly, can significantly increase strength in the chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids. In my opinion, it is not as effective as the dumbbell bench press because it does not work the stabilizing muscles nearly as much. Any time you are holding a weight in each hand, as opposed to a straight bar, you are targeting more stabilizing muscles. Why is it important to target the stabilizing muscles? The stabilizing muscles help prevent injury! Don't ignore them!

To perform a barbell bench press:

1. Lie with your back flat on a bench

2. Grasp the barbell with both hands approximately shoulder width apart

3. Dismount the barbell from the rack

4. Lower the weight to mid chest level

5. Keeping your head, shoulders, and lower back pressed into the bench, press the bar up until your elbows are locked

Final Note

Well there you have it! Above you will find some of the top chest exercises you should be incorporating into your chest workout to build the pectoral muscles. I believe that the best chest exercises are the ones listed above because they not only target the pectoral major and pectoral minor, triceps, and anterior deltoids, but also the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder, back, and pecs as well.

Remember; always try to vary your workout. Periodization training is very important and can help you push past a plateau. Secondly, listen to your body. If you are experiencing immense pain in one of your shoulders for example, you are either lifting too much weight or not using correct technique. There is no shame in lifting less weight to perfect your form. Lastly, always use a spotter! It is very hard to become stronger when you are by yourself and have no one there to help you lift heavier wants. If you really want to gain strength, YOU MUST LIFT HEAVY. Period!

Go to for tips on various health topics such as losing fat, gaining lean muscle, increasing aerobic endurance, diet programs, and much more!

Source: EzineArticles
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