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6 Best Chest Workout Exercises for Building Muscle

6 Best Chest Workout Exercises for Building Muscle

The bench press is the starting and ending point for many gym-goers' chest workouts. Press-ups may suffice if they aren't big on barbells. While both of those exercises are fantastic, it would be more effective if you added more exercises to your repertoire. Fortunately, below we have compiled the best chest exercises that target your muscles in various ways. Each of the following chest exercises will stimulate all areas of the pecs, ie the external, internal, and lower pecs. Depending on the exercise, you can emphasize and specifically address certain areas of your chest. With the right exercise selection, you can build shapely, rounded pecs.

Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

The king exercise for the development of the chest muscles, in the variant as a dumbbell press on the flat bench for some flexibility in the execution of the exercise and a slightly higher coordination challenge than that of the barbell bench press. Target muscles are our two chest muscles and the agonizing triceps. Supportive work is done by the anterior deltoid, the knotted muscle, and the anterior serratus.

During execution, the first small hurdle already represents the starting situation, since you have to switch from the sitting to the lying position with the right dumbbells in your hand. Barbell presses are a bit more comfortable here, as the weight is on barbell stands and can be easily picked up from a lying position. It is important not to change too abruptly and to always keep the weight under control. Help from a training partner can be very welcome here.

Foot position is a contentious issue in the bench press. It's actually possible to develop more strength by placing both feet firmly on the floor, lifting your spine slightly off the bench. What this execution is good for in terms of strength, it can be blamed for in terms of susceptibility to injury, which is why we recommend doing it with your feet on the bench or, even better, bent in the air. The latter requires good coordination, which may require some practice. A clear advantage is a completely straight, stabilized spine. The basic exercise for building strong chest muscles in the modified form with dumbbells may increase the movement and ensure a higher demand in terms of coordination.

Butterfly Cable Crossover

I think everyone already has a certain image in mind when they name the exercise. Contrary to what is done in most cases, the variant of this flying movement, also known as the cable cross, made it into our top exercises because it allows isolated main tension on the fibers of the lower part of the chest like no other exercise. Since we are acting here with an almost stretched elbow joint during the entire movement, which at best does not move during the entire movement, we are dealing here with the classic isolation exercise. The target muscles here are again our two chest muscles, only the front part of the deltoid muscle is involved in agonizing action.

To execute it, you pick up two single grips, each coming from the left and right, and take a position exactly in the middle between the two towers involved. With your elbows almost straight, you can imagine an inverted V as the starting position. Since this is a standing exercise, it is important to have good body tension, i.e. tense abdominal muscles and a tense gluteus. The upper body can be kept straight (upright) during this exercise, an incline is not necessary.

Without gaining momentum and without bending your elbows, you now go with your arms from below next to your body and up in front of your body at least to chest level. The two individual grips come together in front of the body or, in the best case, are even crossed. If the stance or elbow angle has to be changed or it is not possible to cross your hands, the weight is too heavy! In this case, please pin down in favor of a clean design. If you have worked it up with a clean execution, during which you exhale due to the contraction, you now go into the eccentric phase in a controlled manner, in which you inhale.

Svend Press

The Svend press is perhaps one of the lesser-known chest exercises. As far as we know, the phrase and name for this chest exercise were coined by Svend Karlsen, the 2001 World's Strongest Man. Although it is done with lightweight, this auxiliary move generates a tremendous amount of tension on the chest for bigger, stronger pecs.

The exercise is also known as a "weight plate pinch press" in bodybuilding literature. Probably none of these names are familiar to you, but we are certain you will recognize this movement based on the images. Svend presses target the pectoral muscles, and are therefore effective in decreasing the involvement of secondary muscles that may be recruited when doing other chest training moves, such as bench pressing, dips, and even pushups.

There are no major muscle-building benefits to this exercise. However, it is more commonly used for shaping the chest by athletes. The pectoral involvement in this exercise is maximized through the isolation of the chest muscles and minimization of the use of larger muscle groups such as the lats, triceps, and shoulders, all of which assist in the typical pressing action.

Negative Push-Ups

Supportive for the training of the upper part and this time even suitable for outdoor use, the negative push-up is an excellent exercise for strong chest muscles. The main players are again our two chest muscles, agonizing work is done by the triceps, serratus anterior, and anterior deltoid.

For the correct execution, you position your toes higher than your upper body, so an elevation is required for this. Whether this is a weight bench, a garden bench, a beer crate, or a tree stump is up to you. Training aids of different heights naturally allow for different exercise angles. The palms are a little shoulder-width apart next to the body. The starting point is a tense upper body with stretched legs and back and tensed abdominal muscles. The gaze is not directed forwards, as is often seen, but downwards in order not to provoke an unnatural posture of the spine. Under no circumstances should you make the frequently observed mistake of letting your body sag during the entire exercise!

Now it goes into the downward movement and thus into the eccentric phase of the movement, in which you breathe out. The lowest point of the movement is reached when the upper body almost touches the floor, ideally when the upper arms are parallel to the floor. Without a static phase, the concentric phase follows in the starting position, you exhale and a new repetition begins when you reach the top. To make the exercise even more effective, we recommend using our push-up handles.

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

The equivalent of the flat bench press with a slight advantage for the upper part of the chest. Here, too, primarily the large and small pectoral muscles and the triceps are actively involved. The anterior deltoid and the anterior serratus are agonists. Strangely enough, when the pectoral muscles grow, it is often observed that the upper part in particular is relatively poorly developed. Maybe it's because many people's horizons when it comes to chest training are limited to flat bench press and butterfly.

In terms of execution, breathing, initial and final position, everything is analogous to our first exercise. The only exception is the changed angle of the bank. While a slight angle of up to 30 degrees will have an even greater effect on the entire pectoral muscle, an angle of 30 to about 45 degrees will increase the fiber content near the collarbone. Greater angles will shift the load further toward the anterior deltoid, so care needs to be taken here to ensure you're actually training what you're focusing on.


The final exercise in our top list focuses again on the lower fiber portion of the pecs. The difficulty with the dip is getting into the right position to really target the pecs and not the triceps. If you want to get the full benefit of the dip, do it at the end of your program when your pecs are already exhausted. This ensures that it's the pectoral muscles whose muscle failure ends the set. In addition to pecs and triceps, this exercise also works the anterior deltoid and the musculus, while engaging a variety of agonizing muscles such as hand extensors and finger extensors.

Dips are not considered good by everyone. A number of sports scientists see excessive stress and force on the shoulder joints as a major disadvantage, which is why it should be ensured that the shoulder muscles are firstly well developed and secondly fully resilient before attempting the dip. Under certain conditions, the dip is an excellent final exercise for chest muscle training, in which the lower fiber parts in particular experience complete exhaustion again.

Wrapping Up

Complete 2 to 3 exercises for your pecs for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps to build beautiful pecs quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, there's still a myth that tight bench presses or cable exercises work both the inner and outer pecs. This is not possible, because a muscle can only grow in thickness holistically and not grow at the base or origin (inner or outer chest).

Think of a muscle or muscle cell as an electric wire. When the current is switched on, it flows through the entire wire. The same thing happens with training. The muscle is always stimulated as a whole. Attention: It is not possible to specifically stimulate the inner chest muscles with any exercise. The fiber structure of the pectoral muscles does not allow selective contraction. With a trick, it is still possible to optically enlarge your inner chest. As you do heavy compound lifts and your overall chest grows, your inner chest will also grow and improve. That means: Stimulate your chest effectively and your muscles will grow. Changing the angle of your torso on a chest exercise allows you to shift the load to different areas of your chest.

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