Wanting to know how to build an upper chest, men? We thought so.
So here are eight of the best chest exercises for men (and women). Oh, and three complementary chest workout routines to do just that!
What Muscles Make Up the Chest?
The chest is not made of one single chest muscle. It is, however, built of the pectoral muscles, which are also known informally as the “pecs.” They connect to the front of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.
The primary muscles of the chest include the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major is the dominant muscle of the chest. It is thick and a fan-shaped. The pectoralis minor, which is thin and triangular in shape, is located under the major.
Other tissues and muscles of the chest, back, and shoulders work together to rotate the head and arms. More specific functions include looking up to the sky and throwing a baseball. Breathing is also a vital function due in part of these muscles.
So not only is strengthening them an aesthetic pro, but necessary for improving quality of life.
8 Best Chest Exercises for Men
- Barbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell Press
- Seated Machine Press
- Dumbbell Flyes
- Cable Crossovers
- Dips (Chest Version)
- Dumbbell Around the Worlds
Chest Exercises Explained
One of the most recognized and best chest exercises for men (and women) do not require any sort of equipment. The muscle building exercise can also be completed virtually anywhere… Pushups!
Tackling these 11 push-up variations can also take your pump to the next level. Options include wide-grip, close-grip, and explosive clap pushups.
2. Barbell Bench Press
Barbell bench presses allow both beginners and training experts to push heavy weight with steady control.
An incline bench also places extra emphasis on the upper chest area. Close-grip and banded bench presses are additional ways to shake up chest day workouts, too.
3. Dumbbell Chest Press
Swapping out the barbell for dumbbells requires greater stability from the muscles, as dumbbells are harder to control.
Performing dumbbell bench presses also grants a greater range of motion. Each side of the body must work independently when using them.
Like barbell bench presses, you can also press the dumbbells at an incline.
4. Seated Machine Press
Barbells and dumbbells are great and all. But the seated machine press allows individuals to focus on the weight itself and even slow down on the repetition.
If the machine is unavailable, using free weights on a regular bench also mimics the movement a seated machine press offers.
5. Dumbbell Flyes
Especially if new to chest flyes, try giving the Pec Deck (also known as the Butterfly) a try. The machine allows you to push the weight without having to balance any dumbbells or cables, which is explained right below.
6. Cable Crossovers
Also, adjust the pulley position to target different areas of the chest. determined by the area of the chest you want to target. For instance, a high pulley targets the lower pecs while a low pulley targets the upper pecs. Bringing the pulleys to shoulder height will stimulate the middle fibers.
7. Dips (Chest Version)
Whereas dips are commonly known to target the triceps, varying it to target the chest is possible and very effective.
Especially if new to chest dips, use a machine to assist until the strength is gained to complete them unassisted.
8. Dumbbell Around the Worlds
Tackling dumbbell around the worlds is a great way to work your chest at much more than a 90 degree angle… They stimulate growth by offering a greater range of motion at a full 360 degrees!
With this being an intermediate movement, be sure to use low weight. Advance as you are able to lessen the risk of injury.
Chest Workout Routine #1
Exercise 1: Flat Barbell Bench Press (3 sets, 8 reps)
Exercise 2: Seated Machine Press (3 to 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Exercise 3: Dumbbell Flyes (3 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Exercise 4: Pushups (3 sets, 12 reps)
Chest Workout Routine #2
Exercise 1: Incline Barbell Press (3 sets, 6 to 8 reps)
Exercise 2: Incline Dumbbell Press (3 to 4 sets, 8 reps)
Exercise 3: Dumbbell Flyes (3 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Exercise 4: Dumbbell Around the Worlds (2 to 3 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Chest Workout Routine #3
Exercise 1: Dumbbell Press (3 sets, 6 to 8 reps)
Exercise 2: Cable Crossovers (3 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Exercise 3: Chest Dips (3 to 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps)
Exercise 4: Pushups (3 sets, maximum reps)
Additional Tips to Build a Strong, Upper Body
1. Consult with the professionals.
Before starting any sort of workout regimen, consult with a primary care provider to ensure safe there are no safety concerns.
Especially if new to strength training, consider seeking out professional guidance and assistance to avoid injury and show you the ropes. Most gyms offer personal trainers, so utilize such services until starting to feel more comfortable. Or, at least once feeling more confident navigating through the weight room.
2. Lift weights safely and properly.
Always warm-up the muscles and joints you plan to work first to protect against injury. Use proper form during all exercises as well.
Rather than uncomfortably trying to lift heavy weights, focus primarily on correct form. Learning the proper techniques and range of motions can facilitate better results and lessen the likelihood of injury.
And remember, the technique is always more important than strength and more weight can always be added as time goes on.
3. Lift the right amount of weight.
“How much should I lift?” is a common question, especially amongst those new to the weight room. Since individuals have different body strengths and abilities, though, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Ultimately, weights should feel heavy, but bearable, and start to make muscles feel fatigued after 12 repetitions. Most weight training programs advocate for a rep range of 8 to 15 for three to four sets or rounds. For example, chest pressing for three sets of 12 reps.
4. Work out and strengthen other muscle groups, too.
While bulking up the chest may be your primary goal, all major muscle groups should be targeted. These include the abdominals, hips, legs, shoulders, arms, and the back.
Complemented strength training with other exercises can also maximize overall fitness. For instance, aerobic exercise benefits cardiovascular health and can synergize weight loss goals.
5. Maximize muscle gains through resting, recovering, and replenishing.
More is not always better, especially if overworking the muscles, and recovery is absolutely critical to bare any sort of results. Nonetheless, muscles grow when resting, not when working out…
Grant the body the recovery it requires by fueling it promptly and adequately. This includes taking a couple or a few days of rest before targeting the same muscle group again. Also, sleep the recommended seven to nine hours each night and drink at least 64-ounces of water daily.
Truly, too, muscles are made in the kitchen. Especially when weight training, adequate protein stimulates muscle repair and growth while healthful carbs replete glycogen stores and stabilize blood sugars.
6. Shake up workout routines.
If finding results stagnant, you may need to modify your regimen. Ultimately, you need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but doing so in a safe manner.
Continue progress while reducing the risk of injury by noticing the effort (or lack thereof) exerted when lifting with proper form. And if the last few reps compare to the first few, advance to a heavier weight or increase reps and sets.
Also adjust nutritional requirements as needed, particularly as workouts become more strenuous and muscle starts to displace fat.