Building the Ultimate Chest

7 exercises to transform your pectorals from average to superhero status.

So you’ve mastered the bench press, eh? Congrats! You have figured out how to approach your pectoral muscles from one point of view. Unfortunately, if you want your pecs to be the best they can be, you can’t be content with a single approach to growing your chest.

To beef up your chest and help it develop more fully, you’ll need a nice variety that takes on your pecs from all sorts of angles. What kind of exercises should you be doing? Try these on for size, and expect more size from your chest soon.

Regular Bench Press

Okay, you’ve got to start somewhere, and if you’ve not done any bench pressing in the past, it’s time to get started. Lying on your back on the bench, grab the barbell a little wider than shoulder width apart. Lift the bar up and slowly lower the bar to your chest. When it reaches your chest, hold for a moment and slowly push the bar back up. After 8-12 repetitions, return the bar to the rack.

Declined Bench Press

Slowly lie down on a declined bench and place your feet under the pad at the top of the bench. Raise the barbell from the rack and hold it overhead. With your arms straight over your body and perpendicular to the floor, slowly lower the bar to your chest. As with the regular bench press, push the bar back up slowly and repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Inclined Bench Press

Lie down on an inclined bench and lift the barbell directly overhead. From this position, slowly lower the bar until it gently touches your chest. Raise the bar back up, careful to maintain control throughout the movement. Repeat 8-12 times and return the bar to the rack.

Dumbbell Fly

Start by lying down on your back on a flat bench. Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Extend your arms toward the ceiling and place your hands near one another, palms facing one another, directly over your chest. Keeping your elbows bent throughout the movement, separate your arms until they are parallel with your chest or below your body. Lift the weights back to the starting position and repeat.

Explosive Push-Ups

Get in push-up position, with your hands more than shoulder-width apart, and a thick book or weight plate beside each hand. Go down. When you push yourself up, do it quickly and move your hands on top of the book or weight plate. Go back down for another push-up. This time, when you push back up, do it quickly and return your hands to your starting position on the floor. Don’t have a good book or weight plates to use? Then clap your hands while in midair and land in your starting position.

Chest Dips

It may not look too exciting, but chest dips are fantastic for your chest. All you need is a dip station and determination. Start by placing your hands on the dip bars and holding all your weight with your arms. Bend your knees to keep from touching the floor with your feet. Then, bend your elbows and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, careful to lean forward throughout the repetition. Push back up to the starting position and repeat. For added difficulty, put on a weighted belt and add all the weight you can handle.

Bent Barbell Pullover

Though not primarily designed to work your pectorals, this exercise targets your chest in a unique way. To perform the exercise, lie on a flat bench, holding a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lower the barbell behind your head until can feel the stretch in your pecs. Return to the starting position and repeat. For maximum efficiency, keep your elbows bent throughout the motion.

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