Best Chest Exercises

If your goal is to build overall chest size or tone, the best chest exercises are compound movements such as the Flat Bench Press as well as those that isolate certain parts of the chest. For example, Incline Bench Press works the upper chest, Decline Bench Press works the lower chest, Dumbell Flyes work the outer chest.

Bench Press

The Bench Press is a great compound exercise that works the overall chest. This is one of the best chest exercises to perform if you only have time to perform one exercise.

The following steps assume you have a barbell and a bench with a rack to hold the barbell.

  1. With the barbell on the rack, lie on the bench so that the bar is above your head.
  2. Bring your hands up and hold the bar just wider than shoulder width apart.
  3. Lift the barbell off the rack and extend your arms until they're straight.
  4. Slowly lower the weight until the bar almost touches your chest.
  5. Slowly lift the weight back up.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

By placing your hands wider, you emphasise your outer pecs. Narrower, and you emphasise your inner pecs and triceps.

Incline Bench Press

The Incline Bench Press works the upper chest.

The following steps assume you have a barbell and an incline bench with a rack to hold the barbell.

  1. Adjust the bench so that the incline is at about a 30 - 40 degree angle.
  2. With the barbell on the rack, lie on the bench so that the bar is above your head.
  3. Bring your hands up and hold the bar just wider than shoulder width apart.
  4. Lift the barbell off the rack and extend your arms until they're straight.
  5. Slowly lower the weight until the bar almost touches your chest.
  6. Slowly lift the weight back up.
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

Decline Bench Press

The Decline Bench Press works the lower chest.

The following steps assume you have a barbell and a decline bench with a rack to hold the barbell.

  1. With the barbell on the rack, lie on the decline bench so that the bar is above your head.
  2. Bring your hands up and hold the bar just wider than shoulder width apart.
  3. Lift the barbell off the rack and extend your arms until they're straight.
  4. Slowly lower the weight until the bar almost touches your chest.
  5. Slowly lift the weight back up.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

Parallel Bar Dips

Parallel Bar Dips works the lower chest - particularly if you lean forward slightly. If you keep vertical, your triceps get a pretty good workout. If you find these too easy, add resistance by wearing a weight belt.

The following steps assume you have parallel bars.

  1. Stand on a box between the parallel bars
  2. Place your hands on the parallel bars. Your arms should be straight
  3. Kick the box back
  4. Slowly, lower yourself down until your arms are fully bent
  5. Slowly lift yourself back up.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

Dumbell Flyes

Dumbell Flyes work your outer pectorials.

The following steps assume you have a set of dumbells and a flat bench.

  1. Lie on the bench holding the dumbells in front of your shoulders, palms facing inwards, and dumbells almost touching each other.
  2. Keeping your arms locked (either straight or slightly bent), extend your arms out to either side until the dumbells are level with your body
  3. Slowly raise them back to the starting position. Be sure to keep your elbows locked at the same angle.
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

Cable Cross Overs

Cable Cross Overs work your inner pectorials.

The following steps assume you have a cable rack.

  1. Keeping one leg in front of the other, stand in the middle of the cable rack holding the cable handles.
  2. Lean forward at about a 60 degree angle
  3. Keeping your elbows locked and slightly bent, pull your hands down in front of your body until they meet at the center.
  4. Slowly raise them back to the starting position. Be sure to keep your elbows locked at the same angle.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you've repeated the desired number of reps

Now, it's one thing learning about the best chest exercises, but that's no good if you don't integrate them into an an effective workout routine. To do this, read the Chest Workout Routine.

Also note that most of the above chest exercises require a weights bench.