If you envision having powerful pectoral muscles like those on the Incredible Hulk (played by bodybuilder Lou Farrigno), but look in the mirror and only see a flat chest then these top chest building exercises are for you. The chest consists of various muscle layers and, therefore, should be worked from several different angles in order to build it into Hulk-like form. Many strength training exercises for the chest only target the lower chest muscles.
However, in order to achieve a full, bulging chest, attention must also be given to the upper portion of the pecs or you will end up with a saggy looking chest (bottom heavy). Therefore, a good balance of chest exercises which target both the lower and upper sections of the chest should be included in weight training programs for the pecs.
There are many exercises which can be done to develop the various chest muscles. However, the following are some of the best chest exercises for building a firm foundation for powerful pecs. Other exercises for the chest can be added as you progress in your exercise program.
the best chest exercises for building a firm foundation for powerful pecs
The bench press is one of the top chest workouts for building muscle mass due to the variations of exercises which can be done from this position. First of all, you can either use a barbell or dumbbells. Because each one workouts the chest muscles differently, you should include both variations in your strength training routine.
When using a barbell, you can lift more weight which builds greater muscle mass. It’s recommended that you have a spotter for when you reach your maximum weight limit, or become fatigued.
You won’t be able to lift as much weight when bench pressing dumbbells, but you will work out important stabilizer muscles which are used to help keep the dumbbells steady. You don’t need a spotter when pressing dumbbells because you can drop them to your sides.
You can also vary the bench angle to target different sections of the chest. Pressing on a flat bench will build the chest overall. Pressing from an incline works the upper pec muscles, giving you a more rounded chest formation. Pressing from a declined position is good for further building the lower chest area.
Seated Chest Press
To add more volume to your chest, you can use a chest press machine which targets the major pec muscles. The main difference between this exercise and using a bench and free weights is that you press weight from a seated position.
Because machines are stabilized, your stabilizer muscles won’t be worked, therefore requiring the free weight dumbbell workout. However, no spotter is needed with machines so this is a good choice when you don’t have someone available. You can also lift heavier weight which will build greater muscle mass.
This exercise is accomplished by laying on your back on a press bench and holding dumbbells straight out from your sides. Lift the weights up until they meet above your chest. Lower and repeat. Again, you can adjust the bench to various angles to target different chest muscles.
This chest building exercise is the machine version of the dumbbell flyes. The advantage with adding cable crossovers to your chest exercises is that the cables provide tension throughout the entire movement. Dumbbell flyes offer no resistance when they are directly over your chest. Therefore, cable crossovers help to strengthen the inner pec muscles which can be tough to workout.
Before beginning any strength training exercise, be sure to warm up your muscles first. Extensive stress placed on cold muscles can do considerable damage. Also, strength exercises for the chest will cause your pec muscles to contract. Therefore, it is advisable to counter pec exercises with back exercises for a better balanced physique. If you don’t have time to add back exercises, at least stretch out your chest after the session.
The lowering motion of chest exercises (eccentric phase) is just as important for building powerful pecs as the lifting motion (concentric phase). Therefore, do not release quickly, but instead lower the weights in a slow and controlled motion.
Never lock your elbows when lifting, but keep them slightly bent. Locking the elbows places a great deal of stress on the joints which can cause injury.