6 Chest Growth Exercises You Need to Try
When it comes to building a bigger chest, getting that bigger, wider, and muscular chest should come from a few movements. You don't need to perform off-the-wall exercises or rep schemes to build a bigger chest.
Before I built my home gym, I would go into the gym and see bros benching all of the time. Out of the three to four days per week I would go, I would find them benching at least two of the days. Worse than that was they would attempt one rep maxes every time.
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While this has a lot of prestige to throw some 45s on the bar and hit a new personal record, it's not the best way to try to build muscular pecs.
In fact, I would suggest checking out our one rep max bench press calculator to give you an idea of your one rep max. Instead of exhausting your nervous system for a one rep max attempt, using this calculator can give you an idea of how you are progressing.
Instead, you want to focus on effective exercises with a rep range that has enough volume. Volume and intensity are two pieces of your workout that can help trigger hypertrophy. Doing countless reps of a weight that doesn't challenge you won't make you grow.
6 Chest Growth Exercises You Need to Try
So there's no surprise that the barbell bench press is one of the best exercises to build a massive, strong chest. There are some exercises that can help you build an even bigger chest.
Here they are.
#1 - Decline Bench Press
While most people perform decline bench press because you can essentially press more weight, a traditional barbell bench press tends to recruit more anterior deltoids and triceps over your chest. This is especially true for those with poor posture or preexisting injuries.
When you are on a decline bench, you are able to have a better contraction through your chest with less shoulder engagement.
But decline bench doesn't solely hit the lower pec — you are still contracting your mid and upper pecs as long as you perform a full range of motion. Decline bench is a popular exercise for the six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates.
Get the most out of your decline bench presses by using an eight to 12 rep range and maintain a 3-second eccentric portion of your lift. This is going to put your pecs under a lot of mechanical tension.
On the concentric portion of the press, explode upwards while squeezing your pecs to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. This exercise is also great to help build overall chest strength.
#2 - Isometric Pec Deck
When done properly, the pec deck has a lot to offer in regards to chest training. Lifting with your muscle and not your ego is key here.
The pec dec is a great tool for building muscle, but when you perform isometric holds on every rep, that level of intensity you experience will be increased. This means more muscle.
Perform a rep using a controlled tempo through the concentric phase. So slowly squeeze your chest and bring the handles together. At the peak of the lift, hold this contraction for two or three seconds and keep your chest as tense as possible.
Performing the concentric phase for a two-count, holding for a three-count, and performing the eccentric phase for a two-count will increase the amount of time it will take to perform, but your chest will be thrashed. Perform 10 to 12 reps per set and be prepared for the pump.
#3 - Incline Cable Flys
Just like the pec deck, flys are great for building a muscular chest. When performed with cables, flys produce more tension that is highly targeted to your chest. Because of the added tension, this allows you to produce more hypertrophy.
Since you are using strictly chest muscles, your lifts won't look as spectacular. You won't be able to use as much weight as you think, and that's okay. The important part is you focus on getting the best contractions possible — that's what makes this exercise extremely effective.
This exercise will require some attention and level of precision. Since we are using a lighter weight, a rep range of 15 to 20 is ideal. You'll be able to put plenty of tension on your pecs and build your slow-twitch muscle fibers.
Want to add a little more intensity? Try performing these without handles on the cables.
#4 - Weighted Dips
Weighted dips are extremely effective at building a bigger, stronger chest and horseshoe triceps. The extra resistance to your dips will push you to the next level.
Many lifters struggle with their anterior deltoids and triceps taking over while performing dips — making them overlook it as a chest exercise.
Instead of performing your usual dips, try using a slightly wider grip. This is going to reduce your triceps recruitment and help tilt you forward to isolate the pecs. Bust out eight to 12 reps per set and don't use momentum to help.
#5 - Decline Push Ups
We all know how awesome push-ups are for building a bigger chest, but decline push-ups bump up the intensity. This is a great exercise to finish off your chest workout of even superset with another exercise.
Get into a push-up position but put your feet up on a bench or elevated surface. This is going to create a decline angle and focus more on the lower pecs and adding a new degree of difficulty.
If push-ups are easy for you, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more difficult the decline push up is.
Perform five sets until failure if you are using this as a workout finisher.
#6 - Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
One of my personal favorite chest building exercises is the incline dumbbell bench press.
Pressing with dumbbells can outshine the barbell counterpart due to the ability to generate isolated muscle tension in the chest with dumbbells. You're able to move through a larger range of motion, there's no bar that dictates your depth, and you are not locked into a set position.
Incline dumbbell pressing may help those with shoulders that hurt during a barbell bench due to the ability to rotate the dumbbells slightly. Pressing on an incline allows you to hit your upper pecs and should help increase your barbell bench press.
Try adding rotation to your incline dumbbell bench press, too.
Perform the press normally, but add some internal rotation to each rep. As you press upward, rotate your hands inwards so your palms face each other. Your contraction should look like you finished an incline dumbbell fly instead of a bench press.
Don't test your max with this lift — technique is extremely important here. Strive to hit 12 to 15 reps and use a slow and controlled tempo. Learn this exercise and the rotation variation and keep it in your muscle building toolbox.