Chest Exercises for Men – Which are the Best?

Men love to have big chests.  It’s one of those things that can make you look good, help you achieve that big upper body look and make you feel like a stud.

If you’ve got a big chest and big arms, almost nothing else matters.

That is the thinking of a lot of guys and why they concentrate on the upper body and those two muscle groups to the exclusion of other body parts.  Legs sometimes get ignored.  How many big buff guys have you seen with skinny legs?

Nonetheless, having a big chest is a big plus and gives you confidence in yourself.

There really aren’t any tricks to getting a big chest, but we’re gonna show you some techniques and twists to the traditional exercises to give you a leg up on gaining the most you can in the least amount of time.

Pick 2 or 3 exercises from this list of 14 exercises, and rotate the ones you use every 4 weeks. You want to hit different muscles of the chest every time you work out. Muscles easily get accustomed to your routine and to the stress you put on them, and so, to make gains, you need to switch it up often…..not every workout, but at least every 4 weeks.

Here are the Fourteen (14)  best exercises for your chest:

 

EXERCISE 1 – Barbell Chest Press

Let’s start with the most basic and best-known chest exercise.  There’s a reason it’s well-known and used often.

It’s a great exercise and involves more than just your chest muscles.  It’s a compound exercise and will work many more muscles than just your chest muscles.  Include this often in your chest workouts.

HOW TO:
  • Lie on your back on a bench
  • Grab a barbell with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. (Often the smooth rings are the place to try first)
  • Hold it above your chest with your arms fully extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Lower the bar straight down.
  • Make sure you keep your elbows close to your body.
  • DO NOT let the bar go all the way down to your chest.  This common mistake will cause undue stress to your shoulder and elbow joints.
  • Pause, and then press the bar in a straight line up to the starting position.

 

EXERCISE 2 – Decline Chest Press

This is one of those exercises that a lot of guys ignore and should be using because it will add new size and strength to your upper torso.  This is one you should include often to help you add muscle growth that may have been eluding you.

HOW TO:

  • Put your legs under the pad at the end of the decline bench
  • Use a medium-width grip. (Again, you may start by using the smooth rings as a grip guide)
  • Lift the bar from the rack and hold it directly above you.
  • This will be your starting position.
  • Now, come down slowly until you feel the bar about 2-3″ from your chest.
  • After a pause, bring the bar back to the starting position
  • You should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up.  This is the eccentric part of the lift and will intensify your workout.  You can do this with all your chest exercises.

 

EXERCISE 3 – Incline Chest Press

With these first three exercises, we’ve covered the most basic of chest exercises.  If you did just these three exercises, you’d have a great looking chest.  All three of these are compound exercises and will help you develop a balanced upper body.

HOW TO:

  • Load the bar to an appropriate weight for you.
  • Lay on the bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Your back should be arched, and your shoulder blades retracted.
  • Take a medium grip.
  • Remove the bar from the rack, holding the weight above your chest with your arms extended.
  • Lower the bar to 2-3″ of your chest while you flex your elbows.
  • DO NOT bounce the bar off of your chest. This is another reason for not lowering the bar to your chest.  A lot of guys will bounce the bar off their chest.  This is not good form and is not contributing to your muscle gain.
  • Then extend your elbows to return the bar to the starting position.

 

 

EXERCISE 4 -Push Up – Feet Elevated

Pushups are great for your chest, arms and shoulders.  After a while, you’ll find that you have gotten stronger and the normal push up is no longer challenging, so take it to the next level by elevating your feet.

You can elevate your feet by using a bench, a ball or a chair or whatever is convenient.  The higher your feet are, the harder the pushups will be because more of your body weight will be shifted to your upper torso.

HOW TO:

  • Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about 36 inches apart
  • Place your toes on top of a bench or ball or chair or whatever. This will elevate your body.
  • The higher the elevation of your feet, the more resistance you will have when you do the exercise.
  • Lower yourself until your chest is about 2″ off the floor.  Anymore will unduly stress your elbows and shoulders.
  • Using your chest muscles, press your upper body back up to the starting position and squeeze your chest.

 

 

EXERCISE 5 – Push Up on Bosu Ball

The Bosu ball Pushup adds a calisthenic and fitness element to the normal pushup. It targets the chest, and to some degree your triceps, middle back, core and shoulders.

This is a stabilization exercise as well as a strength exercise.  It’s much tougher than a normal push up.

HOW TO:

  • Begin by turning over a BOSU ball so that the half-ball portion is on the ground. Next place your hand on the outside part of the ball’s ring.
  • Do a push-up with your hand on the Bosu ball flat portion.
  • Next place your hands on both sides of the flat platform of the ball.
  • Now do another push-up, as if you were doing it on the ground.
  • Repeat.

 

 

EXERCISE 6 – Chest Dips

Some trainers will claim that the chest dip is the best exercise you can do to define your chest, get rid of man boobs and generally widen your chest.  One of the great bodybuilders of all time believed that chest dips were so much more effective for chest development that he replaced most of his bench presses in his gym with dipping stations.

Chest dips work the entire upper body. They work your arms, your shoulders, your chest and your upper back.  It’s a great exercise

HOW TO:

  • Step up on the dip station and place your hands on both bars
  • Slowly lower your body until the forearms are almost parallel to the floor.
  • Control the descent to parallel and then push back to the starting position

The one thing I should mention is that you will work more of your chest and less of your triceps the more you lean forward.  If you do this exercise with your body straight up and down, you’ll be working more triceps and less chest.

 

EXERCISE 7 – Incline Chest Press Machine

This is an exercise you only do if you have not been working out a long time and you need the control that a machine will give you.

The more you develop a stable, stronger body, the less you will need to use machines.  The advantage of a machine is that it isolates the muscle group you’re working on.

HOW TO:

  • Load an appropriate weight onto the pins
  • Adjust the seat for your height. The handles should be near the top of your chest.
  • Press the handles forward by pushing through your elbows.
  • After a brief pause at the top, return the weight just above the start position, keeping tension on the muscles.

This is one of the benefits of a machine press.  It keeps continuous stress on your muscles, thus giving you a good workout.

 

 

 

EXERCISE 8 – Incline Dumbbell Chest Flyes with a Twist

This is a variation of the normal dumbbell fly.  In this variation, you’ll rotate the dumbbells as you lower them to the side.  It’s a good way to get more work out of a standard chest exercise.

HOW TO:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie on an incline bench
  • Extend your arms above you with a slight bend at the elbows.
  • Now rotate the wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing you. This is your starting position.
  • Slowly lower your arms to the side while keeping the arms extended and while rotating the wrists until the palms of the hand are facing each other.
  • Now, bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position by reversing the motion and rotating your hands.

This is a good alternative that works different muscles than a normal chest fly.

 

EXERCISE 9 – Flat Bench Cable Fly

This exercise is a good variation on the regular fly because it puts continuous stress on your chest muscles during the entire exercise.

HOW TO:

  • Set both pulleys as low as possible
  • Put a flat bench in the middle of the cable station
  • Sit on the end of the flat bench and grasp one handle at a time.
  • Lay back and get into position while holding the handles at chest height.
  • Press the handles together while squeezing your chest and extending your elbows.
  • Keep a slight bend in the elbows and slowly allow the arms to open while your chest stretches
  • Return to the starting position by flexing your chest and bringing the handles together at chest height.

 

 

EXERCISE 10 – Front Raise Pullover

The barbell front raise and pullover exercise is a combination exercise that works the chest, shoulder and arm muscles.  It gives a good stretch to your upper body and thus creates a stress that you can’t achieve with any other chest exercise.

HOW TO:

  • Lie on a flat bench with a barbell with a shoulder width grip.
  • Hold the bar straight over your chest with a bend in your arms. This will be your starting position.
  • While keeping your arms in the bent arm position, lower the weight slowly in an arc behind your head until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  • Then bring the barbell back to the starting position using the same arc through which the weight was lowered.

 

 

EXERCISE 11 – Wide Grip Bench Press

This is a variation on the traditional bench press.

It will hit different muscles and help you to get a wider chest.  At first, you will not be able to do the same weight as your regular bench press, so don’t try.  Scale back your initial weight so you maintain good form and get the most benefit from it.

Varying your grip width heightens muscle growth and increases strength.

HOW TO:

  • Lie flat on your back and grab the barbell above you with a grip as wide as possible.
  • Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to about 2 inches above your chest
  • Then press the bar back to the start position.
  • Do Not Touch the Bar to Your Chest.  Even though everyone thinks this is the way to do a chest press.  It’s not.  It will put undue stress on your shoulders and arm joints.
  • Be sure that when you are lowering the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion.
  • When you press the bar up, you want to do it in an explosive fashion.

 

EXERCISE 12 – Smith Machine Press

This exercise is intended for guys first starting out.  The safety of a Smith Machine is good until you get a little confidence in your ability and after you’ve gained some strength.

Also having the safety of the machine will allow you to push harder than you might have without the safety of a spotter.  It kinda replaces having a spotter.  It also is more easily adjusted, so you spend less time in between lifts adding or adjusting weights.

HOW TO:

  • Lie down on a flat bench that is positioned in the Smith Machine so when the bar comes down and touches the chest it rests across the middle of the chest, about where your nipples are.
  • Plant feet flat on the floor.
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip, about shoulder width.
  • Raise the bar to unlock the bar from the hooks
  • Hold in place and then push towards the ceiling.
  • Lower the bar to the middle of the chest. Do not touch the chest.  (see the reason in the previous exercises)
  • Puch the weight straight up over your chest until elbows are almost locked.
  • Squeeze the chest.
  • Slowly lower weight back down to the middle of your chest.

 

 

EXERCISE 13 – One Arm Floor Barbell Press

This one is a little out of the ordinary, but a very effective exercise for your chest.

The one-arm barbell floor press is an alternative exercise that primarily targets the chest and to a lesser degree the lats, middle back, shoulders and triceps.

There are however many different one-arm barbell floor press variations that you can try out. You could try this exercise with dumbbells or kettle bells.

HOW TO:

  • Grab a barbell (unloaded) and lie flat on your back.
  • Bend knees with feet planted on the floor.
  • Fully extended your free arm, holding the barbell outward, bringing elbow to a 90-degree position, triceps resting on the floor,
  • Hold the barbell above your chest.
  • Pause, retract back to starting position and switch arms.

 

EXERCISE 14 – Cable Crossover

This is similar to a dumbbell fly and will hit some of the same muscles.  These two exercises are stretching your chest muscles so that they will grow more than if you didn’t stretch them.

The cable crossover is a great chest exercise because it stretches the pec muscles from the starting position, hitting the outer pec muscle fibers. Your pulley position is determined by the area of the chest you want to target.

HOW TO:

  • Place the pulleys in a high position.
  • Pick a weight and hold the pulleys in each hand.
  • Step forward in between both pulleys while pulling your arms together in front of you.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows in order to prevent stress, extend your arms to the side (straight out at both sides) in a wide arc until you feel a stretch on your chest.
  • Return your arms back to the starting position.
  • Make sure to use the same arc of motion throughout the exercise.

You can vary the exercise by lowering and raising the height of the pulleys.  It’s recommended.

 

DRAWINGS courtesy of:
Everkinetic (http://db.everkinetic.com/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],

 

SUMMARY

These are the fourteen (14) best chest exercises that you should know and use.

Obviously, don’t do all 14 in one exercise routine.  Choose three (3) of them and incorporate them into your weekly routine.

Four (4) weeks later, choose another 3 and do those for a month.  Try mixing them up so that you hit different parts of your chest.  For example, one month do a wide grip bench press, a decline press and cable crossovers.   That’s a good balanced workout.

If you’ve got any comments, please leave them below.  We welcome your feedback for what works and doesn’t work for you.

See you at the gym.

About "W" Tucker 50 Articles
I've been a fitness enthusiast for many years and want to encourage guys over 40 to get and stay in shape. It makes life better, and makes you look and feel better.

4 Comments

  1. Hi W, thanks for this.

    I’m always on the lookout for new exercises, so I will definitely try some of these.

    From your list, the Push Up – Feet Elevated is one of my standards, mainly because it requires no major equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere. I work it into most of my routines.

    Also, you’re definitely right about how some guys totally forget about their legs. In some extreme instances, it can look almost farcical. I’ve never understood this, preferring to to focus on all parts of the body.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

    Best, al

    • Thanks for the comments, Al.

      It sounds like you are already a workout guy and may not need much help.  

      As far as the legs thing goes, if you workout your legs you’re helping gain muscle all over because your leg muscles are so large and a big percentage of your overall body muscularture.  Increasing leg muscles contribute to better metabolism, etc.

  2. Wow! Thank you for such a good description. Are those exercises good for girls too? I don’t want to have big chest but I like to look toned. Should I just use less weight and do more repetition? I used to do some of the exercises previously at a local gym. I remember that I got really strong.

    • Yes, absolutely the same exercises apply to women. For you to gain a lot of muscle by using these exercises, you’d have to inject yourself with male hormones, so women don’t ever have to worry about packing on the muscle.  It’s next to impossible.  

      I think you’re on the right track.  Use lighter weights, whatever you can do 8 -12 reps with  That’s a good range, even for guys.  

      You’ll get stronger and toned.  I promise.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*