The very well developed chest is something a man could be proud of. It makes you stand out from the crowd whatever you choose to wear: a sporty T-shirt, a classic shirt or a jersey.
Some of the men are having innate well-developed chest muscles and I have always been a little bit envious on them 🙂
My chest is something that my wife often enjoys to use instead of her pillow, lol. That is why I have an additional stimulus to work out my pectoral muscles whenever I have free time and possibility.
Below are the best chest exercises for men that I use regularly in my chest workout and they work pretty well for me.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Anatomy of Chest Muscles
- 2 The Peculiarities of Chest Workout
- 3 Chest Workout For Beginners
- 4 Best Chest Exercises For Men
- 5 Development of the Pectoral Muscles Shape
- 6 3 Reasons Why Chest Muscles Don’t Grow
- 7 Concluding Thoughts
The Anatomy of Chest Muscles
Before we dive into the subject, let’s refresh some anatomical knowledge. From the anatomical point of view, the main muscles of the chest are the pectoralis major and minor.
The pectoralis major muscle has a triangular shape, weaving one of its bases directly into the shoulder – precisely because of this, the muscles of the chest and shoulders are closely connected.
The pectoralis minor muscle is located under the pectoralis major and performs a stabilizing rather than a working role.
In addition, the serratus anterior muscle, which lies closer to the side of the body and to the shoulder, also enters the group of pectoral muscles.
This muscle has nine characteristics “teeth” attached to the upper ribs. Its main function is the abduction and approximation of the shoulder blades.
In fact, it is the serratus anterior muscle that works in such exercises on the chest as all kinds of flattening.
The Peculiarities of Chest Workout
The pectoral muscles are one of the largest and most complex muscle groups in the body. That is why for proper chest training it is important to use not only compound exercises but also isolating exercises that load the muscles at different angles.
For pumping the pectoral muscles, it is necessary to apply constant progress in working weights since in this way the chest responds best to hypertrophy.
In addition, negative repetition techniques (when you are helped to raise the bar, but you lower it yourself), as well as the technique of achieving failure and pumping exercises, are very effective for the growth of chest muscles.
When performing most exercises on the pectoral muscles, not only the pectoral muscles are included in the work, but also the muscles of the press, arms (in particular, biceps and triceps), back and deltoid muscles of the shoulders. In fact, breast training involves working out the entire upper body.
Barbell exercises are recommended for gaining mass, while chest exercises with dumbbells are suitable for pinpointing the chest, improving muscle shape and pumping lagging bundles.
The main advantage of chest exercises with dumbbells is that they do not need exercise equipment or a bulky frame with a barbell and I often do them at home.
To achieve the fastest effect, it is recommended to combine the workout of the pectoral muscles with pumping triceps, shoulder muscles, and the press.
As in the case of other large muscle groups, strength training of the breast should be carried out no more than once in every 72 hours. Otherwise, the muscles will not have enough time for a full recovery and subsequent growth.
Chest Workout For Beginners
If you are just starting out with your workouts, it is enough to complete one or two compound exercises (for example, bench press) with a lot of weight and 5-7 repetitions, as well as one or two isolating exercises (for example, flattening on blocks and dumbbell breeding) with a lighter weight and 12-15 repetitions.
The key emphasis is on following the correct execution technique as much as possible.
Note that most exercises for the pectoral muscles can be performed both with a barbell and with dumbbells or on blocks.
Dumbbells and blocks allow you to use stabilizer muscles in the exercise and precisely pump individual chest bundles, while the barbell is the preferred choice when working with heavyweight since its range of motion is usually trimmed.
Best Chest Exercises For Men
This is the key anatomical exercise for chest muscles. If you want to pump up your chest, you first want to learn how to do push-ups correctly in order to be able to feel the pectoral muscles in work.
Here is a quick video that will walk you through this excellent exercise:
However, push-ups have an extremely limited resource for breast growth, since they do not allow you to work with extra weight.
One thing that I did when I wasn’t able to follow my training program due to the lack of time, is performing push-ups with the help of special bars that have added some additional load on my muscles.
I was really surprised by how performing one single exercise has helped me to maintain my body shape during that period of time when I wasn’t able to perform a full workout.
I didn’t do anything besides push-ups on these bars and I managed to not lose that body condition.
Of course, this was possible thanks to many years of previous training, and most probably will not work for somebody who is just starting out to workout.
If you don’t want to use these special bars, you can use instead of them a few books and these would do the same thing.
Dips are one of the best exercises for a proper workout of the upper part of the body, and especially the lower part of the pectoral muscles, the entire shoulder girdle, and triceps.
When lowering, the movement should be slow and controlled, while lifting up – powerful and jerky (as if you push the body up).
Take a look here how to execute correctly this exercise:
3. Bench Press
This is a compound strength exercise for the pectoral muscles. Bench press could be performed on a horizontal as well as an incline bench press.
There are also different grips: narrow (close), wide and medium, and depending on these, different muscles are involved in work.
So, when you press from the chest, the load is on the following muscles:
- Chest or pectoral muscles, both large and small work
- Triceps muscles of the shoulder. Triceps always work with the chest.
- Deltoids, front bundles.
- Hands, forearms, and press. Muscle-stabilizers that keep your body and arms in the correct position. And this includes almost all the muscles, including legs.
Horizontal Bench Press
This is the usual classic version of the bench press from a horizontal position. This exercise is used as a competitive discipline in various championships, and competitions.
A wide grip on a horizontal bench loads the middle part of the chest muscles as much as possible.
When performing a horizontal bench press, it is extremely important to follow the correct execution technique. Here is a video that will walk you through it in less than a minute:
Do not relax the muscles at the upper and lower points of movement, do not straighten your elbows and never touch the barbell off your chest. Raise the bar up, slowly counting until 1-2, hold onto 3-4 and lower on 5-6 count.
Depending on where you lower the barbell, the emphasis of the load is shifted.
If the goal of the training is to pump the chest, the best option is to lower the weight in the area of the collarbone. In this case, the pectoral muscles are well stretched, the movement has a large amplitude.
If you lower the barbell to the bottom of the chest, the pectoral ones still take on most of the load, but the deltoid muscles and triceps are additionally loaded.
The center of the chest is a compromise between options 1 and 2. It is the most familiar and convenient. If you want to catch up all of the birds with one stone, do the third version.
In powerlifting, the bench press is performed from the bridge. The meaning of such a bend is to minimize the distance the bar travels from the chest to straight arms.
Due to this, it is possible to lift more weight than with bodybuilding techniques.
Lifting the barbell from the bridge does not give a significant increase in muscle mass, there is a completely different goal.
This allows developing a large “explosive” effect of muscles, to squeeze the right weight at a time. Again, this is a powerlifting technique, whose task is to show its strength in a single execution.
When it comes to bodybuilding, the bridge is not used. On the contrary, there is a need to give the movement a good amplitude so that the muscles contract and stretch to their maximum. capacity.
That is, in order for the chest, triceps to work qualitatively and the front beams of vulnerable deltoids not to be overloaded, it is necessary to achieve the full range of motion.
To do this, you can slightly bend in the lower back to a natural position, but not more than that.
Narrow (Close) Grip
If you take the bar so that between your palms is about 15–20 cm, press your elbows to the body, you will get a narrow grip bench press.
A narrow grip slightly loads the top of the pectoral muscles, but at the same time the triceps swing, the deltoids are actively involved. This bench press is also called “triceps.”
The lower you lower the barbell to your chest, the more work the deltoid muscles will do. Do not forget, the shoulders are very easy to damage, and they will heal for a very long time. If you decide to press with a narrow grip, you have to be very careful!
One more option for working with a narrow grip, when during the bench press the elbows are moved apart (tricep bench press means the elbows brought to the body). The exercise is designed to work out the inside of the pectoral muscles.
A huge disadvantage of the narrow grip is the instability of the bar due to the fact that you hold it in the center. And if you take the bar wider, it is more difficult to focus on the center of the chest. Therefore, it is better to do this exercise with dumbbells.
When doing the exercise with a medium grip, you take the bar so that while moving your elbows are at an angle of about 45 degrees to the body.
The medium grip represents a trade-off spreading the load between chest and triceps.
Back (Reverse) Grip
There is also back grip and there are people believing that it is possible to pump the top and bottom of the pectoral muscles with a reverse grip press.
Perhaps this is true, but in fact, this position for the hands is unnatural, therefore it is dangerous to health. A large load is created on the wrist joint and on the shoulders.
It is much easier and safer to work on the lower chest by tilting the bench upside down.
Incline Bench Press
It is possible to work out on an incline bench at different angles, as well as upside-down.
This is a very popular version of the classic exercise. It is carried out with a wide and medium grip because a narrow grip does not make sense here.
The bench press could be set at angles of 30, 45 and sometimes 60 degrees. The load is focused on the upper pectoral muscles.
The higher the bench is raised, the more the front and middle bundles of the deltoid muscles are included in the work. In fact, increasing the angle, we smoothly go from the press on the chest to the press on the shoulders.
Therefore, the greater the angle of the bench, the higher the load on the chest:
- 30 degrees – the middle and upper chest sways evenly
- 45 degrees – the middle is unloaded, the top is loaded as much as possible
- 60 – the top of the pectorals does not work much, shoulders and triceps are actively included.
Based on this, if you want a powerful top, press the bar on an incline bench. It is advisable to work to failure and with somebody’s help since on an inclined bench it is often inconvenient to remove and put the weight on your own.
When pressing on an incline bench, try to lower the bar to the top or middle of the chest. It makes no sense to lower it below as all the load goes on the shoulders. And the larger the angle, the stronger this load.
Exercise carefully, do not rush to gain working weight, follow exactly the technique of the exercise. If your shoulder is injured, the bench press at an angle is likely to cause sharp pain, and it is better to postpone it to better times.
Incline Bench Press Upside Down
To develop the pectoral muscles harmoniously, attention should be paid not only to the top and middle but also to their lower part.
It is quite customary to pump the lower part of the pectoral muscles with an incline press and the upside-down position of the head.
There are special benches for performing the incline bench with the upside-down position of the head. In the gyms, if there are no special benches for this exercise, the Swedish wall could be used as well as various devices that can be attached to this wall.
Large angles are not used in this bench press. Thirty degrees is enough.
During the bench press, the weight must be repelled strictly perpendicular to the force of gravity (i.e. the floor).
The starting position for this exercise is unusual for muscles and blood vessels. They do not know how to work in this kind of condition. The body is simply not used to being upside down.
Blood flows to the brain, noise may appear in the ears, and it may darken in the eyes. Someone may even experience a bad headache. The older the person, the more dangerous this position is, not to mention lifting weight in this position.
Due to the unusual position, at first, it will be difficult to keep the weight exactly perpendicular to the floor. The bar will walk back and forth. That is why it is good to work with the help of a trainer or a friend.
It will help relieve weight, control proper functioning and help put the weight back. Alone, you can simply drop the weight down.
Thus, in this exercise, it is important to work perpendicular to the gravity vector. This is true for all other exercises, but in other cases, the body position is more familiar and safe.
4. Dumbbell Breeding
This is a key exercise for working out the serratus anterior muscle and giving the breast the correct “square” shape.
Use not too heavy dumbbell weights, focusing primarily on the feeling of muscle strain.
At the lowest point of movement, do not lower your elbows too low and do not spread your arms too wide.
5. Dumbbell Press on Incline Bench
This is a great exercise to work out the upper chest muscles.
During the exercise, do not take your legs off the floor and make sure that the muscles of the body (especially the press) are in constant light tension.
When lifting dumbbells, you should feel how this tension helps push the weight up.
Development of the Pectoral Muscles Shape
The shape of the pectoral muscles largely depends on genetics, but the inclination of the body during exercise and the width of the arms directly affect how exactly the muscles will grow and develop.
For example, the most massive external part of the chest is best worked out with horizontal bench presses, performed both with a barbell and with dumbbells or on blocks.
The upper part of the chest is included in the work in such exercises like the dumbbell bench press or barbell on a bench with an incline (both at 45 and 30 degrees).
The lower part is developed when doing push-ups on the parallel bars or bench press with an inverse inclination (head down).
The center of the pectoral muscles responds very well when performing all kinds of breedings on the blocks and simulators, as well as with the horizontal bench press with a narrow grip.
3 Reasons Why Chest Muscles Don’t Grow
If you train your chest intensively, but your muscles do not grow stubbornly and your chest does not get the desired shape, you most likely make one of three common mistakes.
- either chase excessively large working weights to the detriment of the correct execution technique
- train the same bundles of the pectoral muscle
- pump your chest too often, not giving your muscles the opportunity to recover.
Training the pectoral muscles is one of the keys to creating an athletic body since these muscles form a strong and massive body.
The main rules for successful breast pumping are the constant progress of working weights, a variety of exercises, an ideal technique, as well as sufficient time for rest and recovery.
Remember that the broadest back muscle, the deltoid muscle of the shoulders, and the pectoralis major and minor muscles are woven together by connective tissues.
To increase the elasticity of muscles, as well as to accelerate recovery time, it is important for athletes to perform a massage using special massage rollers.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know better what are the best chest exercises for men.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.
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All the best,