Bodybuilding Exercises for The Chest

bodybuilding exercises

Bodybuilding exercises for developing the chest should involve mostly compound movements and a few isolation moves.

The back bone of any solid bodybuilding training routine should consist of compound, or multi-joint pressing movements. Compound movements are without a doubt the best mass builders ever discovered.

Barbell Movements for Chest Workouts

Bodybuilding exercises with barbells should serve as the foundation to any bodybuilding routine.

Barbells allow you to use heavier weights than you can with dumbbells, therefore, they are an excellent mass builder.

A barbell is a piece of exercise equipment that's approximately 7 feet long, 1 inch in diameter and weighs roughly 45 pounds or 20 kilograms. Weight can be put on by adding Olympic plates to each side of the bar. It's important to always use a safety collar on the outside of the weights so the plates don't slide off.

Barbell Flat Bench Press

The bench press works the entire chest region with the pectoralis major being the main working muscle during this exercise.

The sternal (lower) part of the pectoralis major does the majority of the work with a little help from the upper chest.

The barbell bench press is performed by lying on your back on a flat bench with your feet firmly touching the floor and your eyes directly below the bar on the rack.

Grip the bar with a normal grip and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. For safety, have a spotter help you remove the weight from the rack.

Lower the weight in a controlled manner towards the lower portion of your pecs. Make sure that you inhale slightly while you lower the barbell (but don't hold your breath).

Inhaling fills your lungs with more air and compresses your rib cage, allowing for more force to be exerted during the movement.

When the bar slightly touches your chest(NEVER bounce the bar off your chest), press the bar away from your body until your arms are fully extended and your elbows are just shy of locking out, exhaling once you push the weight past the most difficult portion of the lift (the "sticking point").

Be sure to keep your back flat on the bench throughout the entire movement.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Bench Press Variations

Out of all bodybuilding exercises, the bench press is number one and a very good chest builder. However, to have truly amazing pecs, you will have to incorporate other bodybuilding exercises for the chest along with the bench press.

Bodybuilding exercises for the chest have to involve different variations of presses in order to build a truly impressive set pecs.

I've included a few variations of the bench press for each chest workout on the bodybuilding workouts page linked at the end of this article.

Barbell Bench Press-Incline

To stimulate the upper chest and develop the upper pectoralis fibers , you'll need to do the incline bench press in your chest routine.

The bench should be inclined around 30 to 45 degrees. As the angle of the bench can be adjusted from -45 degrees (decline), to 0 degrees (the flat bench press), to 45 degrees (an incline bench press), to 90 degrees (military press, shoulder press), the main muscles being stimulated will change from the middle region of the pecs, to the upper part of the pecs as well as the shoulders.

Perform the incline bench press the exact same way as the flat barbell bench press.

Remember to be careful and not use too wide of a grip. Not only will you decrease the range of motion of the bar, which limits your ability to develop the chest muscles, but because you also risk putting unnecessary stress on the shoulder girdle, which can cause injury.

When you're doing the incline barbell bench press, lower the bar in a smooth controlled manner to you upper chest, breathing in as you lower the barbell, and breathing out as you pass the mid-way portion of the exercise.

Barbell Bench Press-Decline

The decline bench press targets mostly the lower part and a little bit of the middle area of your chest.

Set the bench in a decline position between 30 and 45 degrees. You should use a decline bench that has support pads to hold your feet still while you are performing the lift.

Just like with the incline and flat version, the decline bench press is similar to the flat bench press.

Use an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lower the bar in a smooth controlled manner, inhale as you lower the barbell, and then exhale as you pass the mid-way portion.

Bodybuilding Exercises-Dumbbell Presses for Chest

Dumbbells are also considered free weights just like barbells. Dumbbells have two different versions; The ones in which the weight can be adjusted, and those that contain a fixed weight that can not be changed or removed.

Performing bodybuilding exercises with dumbbells is very versatile, as dumbbells can be used to train just about every body-part and not just the chest muscles.

Performing presses and flys with dumbbells allows you isolate each side of the pecs while at the same being able to get a better range of motion at the bottom portion of dumbbell movements.

Be aware that you won't be able to handle as much weight with dumbbell presses as you can with using a barbell, therefore it's important to use both barbells and dumbbells when training chest.

Flat Bench Dumbbell Press

This is a variation of the popular barbell bench press. The biggest difference is that you can lower the dumbbells further in the bottom position as opposed to the barbell version, which limits your range of motion once the bar touches your chest at the bottom.

Start by lying face up on a flat bench with your feet firmly on the floor in front of you.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing away from you. Your arms should be in a fully extended position above your chest.

In a smooth and controlled manner, lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest in a controlled manner. Press the dumbbells upward, until the dumbbells almost touch each other at the top of the movement.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

The barbell incline bench press targets the upper chest area and somewhat the middle chest.

The incline of the bench should be set between to approximately 30 to 45 degrees.

The execution of the incline dumbbell bench press is the same as the flat dumbbell bench press.

With your feet planted firmly on the floor and your back against the bench, lower the dumbbells in a slow and controlled manner down to the outside of the shoulders.

Press the dumbbells upwards and bring them up above eye level at the top of the movement. Make sure that you're exhaling once you're past the half way point of the movement

Bodybuilding Exercises - Barbell Decline Bench Press

The decline dumbbell bench press effectively targets the lower part of your chest.

The bench should be set at a decline level between 30 and 45 degrees. You should use a bench that has support pads to hold your feet still and keep them from moving while you are in the decline position.

Perform the exercise in the same way as the barbell decline bench press. With your feet underneath the support pads, press your head and back firmly against the bench.

Holding the dumbbells together at arms length above you chest while using an overhand grip.

Lower the dumbbells in a smooth, controlled manner while inhaling as you lower the weights. Press the dumbbells back up to the top position, then breathe out as you pass the middle portion of the movement.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Dumbbell Decline Bench Press

Dumbbell decline bench presses stimulate mostly the lower part of the chest if done properly.

Set an adjustable bench to a decline level between 30 and 45 degrees, or just use a bench that's already declined. You should use a bench that has pads to hold your feet in place while you are in the decline position.

Executing the decline dumbbell press is similar to the flat barbell bench press. With your feet firmly under the pads or rollers, press your shoulders, head and hips against the bench firmly. Use an overhand grip with your palms facing up, holding the barbells together at arm length above you chest.

Lower the dumbbells slowly and under control to the outside of the chest. Press the weights back up to the starting position until the dumbbells almost touch together at the top of the movement. Make sure that you exhale as you pass the mid-way point.

Bodybuilding Exercises- Pec-Deck, Cable and Dumbbell Flys for Chest

Bodybuilding exercises for isolating the chest muscles are done in an arc or hugging motion and not by pressing the weights.

Pec-Deck Machine flys are an isolation exercise for the chest. The peck-deck is a single joint movement which targets the chest only if done correctly.

The pec-deck is a great finishing movement for the chest as it does not require balancing the weights. When performing the pec-deck machine fly, be sure to stick your chest out and keep your elbows high to further emphasize chest muscle fiber recruitment.

Dumbbell Flys are isolation exercises for the chest. They use only one joint to perform the exercise. This allows you to specifically target the chest with very little assistance from other bodyparts.

Therefore, flys are an excellent finishing movement that are best performed after barbell and dumbbell presses while training chest.

Remember, you will not be able to use as much weight with flys in your chest workout as you can with compound movements. So don;t worry if the weights you're using are less than half of what you're using for presses.

The basic movement of all fly exercises is to move your arms up and down in a wide arc rather than pressing the weights.

Visualize yourself hugging a big tree as you lift the dumbbells up. This is the proper execution of a dumbbell fly.

Also, all flye exercises can be performed with both dumbbells, a pec-deck machine or with cables in your chest workout. Cables provide constant tension throughout the entire movement as compared to dumbbells where most of the tension disappears at the top of the movement.

Also, cables are a safer to use if you train by yourself and you don't have a spotter available.

If you have a few years of bodybuilding training experience, feel free to substitute cable flys or pec-deck flys for dumbbell flys.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Flat Bench Dumbbell Flys

Flat bench dumbbell flys target the entire chest region, with the primary mover being the middle and lower parts of the chest.

If you focus on squeezing your chest muscles together at the top of the movement, you will also target the inner portion of the chest.

Proper flat bench fly execution is done by lying face up on a flat bench with your feet planted flat on the floor, and your head, shoulders and hips in contact with the bench.

Hold the dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing each other and your arms extended above your chest at arms length. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows to take pressure off the joints.

Inhale as you lower your arms to your sides in a wide arc. Once the dumbbells are level with your chest , lift your arms up in a wide arc, back to the starting position.

Squeeze your pecs hard at the top of the movement for a second or two before lowering the weights to better stimulate the inner part of the chest.

Again, by changing the angle of the bench in your chest workout, you will switch the focus and where the stress is applied on the chest.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Incline Dumbbell Flys

The incline dumbbell fly targets the upper region in your chest workout.

Set the incline of a bench between 30 to 45 degrees.

Execution of the incline dumbbell fly is the same as the flat dumbbell fly except that you are in an incline position.

Again, be sure to squeeze your muscles hard for a second or two at the top of the movement for maximum inner chest development.

Bodybuilding Exercises - Decline Dumbbell Flys

Decline dumbbell flys target mostly the lower and middle parts of your chest.

The execution is the same as the flat and incline versions except that you need to secure your feet underneath the pads to keep you body steady throughout the entire movement.

Bodybuilding Exercises-Dips for Chest

Bodybuilding exercises or routines for the chest would not be complete without dips. Dips are an excellent chest builder if done right. Dips will work your entire chest as well as you triceps.

Execution of the dip involves holding the bars on a dip station and extending yourself until your arms are locked out at the top. Lower yourself slowly into the bottom of the movement while feeling your chest muscles stretch.

In order to involve the chest muscles more, lean forwards and cross your legs behind you. Do not come all the way up but rather stop about two-thirds of the way up. To keep constant tension on the chest, do not lock your elbows out at the top of the movement.

The bodybuilding exercises that I've described above are all excellent chest builders that will help you build your physique effectively.

Visit the bodybuilding workouts page to find a chest routine that suits your level of training experience and start building a muscular chest that you can be proud of.

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Adi Crnalic

Adi Crnalic is a certified personal trainer, lifetime natural bodybuilder and muscle building & fitness expert. He writes all the articles and posts on this site. He was born in Bosnia and currently lives in the state of North Carolina, USA.

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