The best chest workouts begin with first understanding the function of the chest muscles in general. I find with clients that the “mind-body connection” is crucial to successful training of any muscle group! For men a well developed chest represents virility, power and strength. Women shouldn’t over look training the chest either. For them training the chest can assure a solid an “perky” appearance.
The pecs refer to the pectoralis major, petoralis minor, and humerus muscles. The pec muscles run like a fan across the chest. Imagine you’re holding a stack of popsicle sticks between your fingers. The “shoulder” would be where you’re pinching that stack together and if you fan them out, that would represent the structure of the chest muscles as they run from the humerus at the shoulder to the breastbone in the center of your chest.
The chest is engaged in most “pushing” exercises and also helps to move the shoulder muscles as well.
Top 5 Best Chest Exercises
1. Barbell Bench Press
A staple of any chest workout, the Barbell Bench Press has many variations. We’ll focus on a basic medium grip flat bench press.
Begin by grabbing the bar about shoulder width apart. Do one rep without weights to check your form. Keep your abs tight and make sure you elbows are tucked in a bit. They should naturally fall at a 45 degree angle away from your body and lock in against your lats at the bottom of the rep. Lower the weight slowly towards your chest right about to the nipple area. With explosive strength drive the bar up through the motion. Keep in mind that after you reach the mid point, you’re actually engaging your triceps to complete the movement.
2. Dumbbell Bench Press
A flat bench dumbbell press is similar to the barbell press but using dumbbells instead of the bar. This is a great variation to include to assure you don’t have any strength imbalances between the two sides of your chest. The intended function of the chest muscles is more adequately represented with the dumbbell bench press as you’re not only pressing the weight up, but also moving it towards the mid-line of your body.
3. Explosive Push Ups
The basic push up can be used by anyone anywhere. This is why I love incorporating it into a chest routine. An explosive push up however is a bit more advanced. Start with the basic push ups stance as low to the ground as possible just so your chest, belly, chin or legs are not touching the floor. An explosive push up requires you to literally push yourself up off of the floor which means your hands leave the ground. Some variations may include a “clap” or pushing up onto another object such as a block.
4. Chest Dips
Find the chest dip bars or machine in your gym. For beginners the weight assisted dip machine is ideal as it allows you to focus on proper form. Beginning at the top of the exercise, your arms should be almost fully extended. Focus on leaning slightly forward to try to keep more tension on the chest rather than your triceps. Lower yourself until your arms are parallel to the floor. Before trying more advanced variations like a weighted dip, I recommend asking the advice of your local or los angeles personal trainer or fitness pro to assure proper form and avoid injury.
5. Dumbbell Flys
Your selected weight for dumbbell flys will be considerably less than that of a press exercise. Begin with the weight fully extended and your arms straight but not locked out. Lower the weights out to either side of you at the same time until they are just parallel to the floor. Without moving your elbows return the weights to the starting point with a “squeezing” motion in your chest.
Practice these 5 exercises and you’ll be well on your way to a powerful and well defined chest
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