10 Best Science-Backed Exercises To Fuel Your Chest Growth Like No Other

10 best chest exercises for men
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There are dozens of exercises you could do for your chest, but these are the best chest exercises you should be doing for massive growth.

For many new gym-goers, the sheer amount of exercise options can be overwhelming. Squats, deadlifts, cleans, leg extensions….how can you possibly decide which exercises you should prioritize, and when?

When we dive into “big-hitter” body parts, things can get even more confusing. 

For instance, the chest is one area that many men want to build up, but it’s also one of the areas in which there is much disagreement about optimal exercises.

But by following a few key principles, and taking your cue from experts in the field, you can increase the size and strength of your chest muscles in no time at all (1)!

10 Best Chest Exercises for Massive Growth

10 Best Chest Exercises for Massive Growth
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The Major Chest Muscles

The Major Chest Muscles
image credit // menshealth.com

Generally, when people refer to the chest muscles, they are talking about the pec major (2). This is the very large muscle centered in the upper portion of the torso, on either side of the trunk.

Building up this muscle can go a long way toward improving your chest strength and appearance, but it’s not the only chest muscle that bears consideration.

Other muscles you should focus on in this area are the pec minor, the serratus anterior, and even the lats. By increasing the size and strength of all of these muscles, you’ll notice serious improvements in the aesthetics of your chest. 

Now that we’ve identified some of the key muscles we need to work on to achieve a full, powerful chest, let’s tackle some of the best exercises for this region.

Top 10 Chest Exercises for Males

chest exercises

Now, I always have to add my usual disclaimer for posts of this sort:

These exercises won’t be the best choice for every man. There are always exceptions to every rule. However, most men will benefit by incorporating the following 10 exercises into their chest workouts. 

In terms of frequency, I recommend that you complete 2-3 exercise sessions involving the chest per week. 

Most research points to the fact that muscles require about 48 hours minimum to recover between workouts. 

So, be sure to space your workouts out effectively to decrease the chances of injury and increase the chances of success in your journey toward building the body of your dreams!

1. Cable Crossover

Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is one of the most commonly used single-joint exercises for the chest. 

This move isolates the pec major, but the angle can be adjusted to target certain regions more than others within the chest.

How to Perform

  • Ensure that the cables are both at the same height on your pulley system and that the weight is the same on both sides.
  • Next, grasp one handle in each hand and assume a staggered stance, with one leg out in front of the other. 
  • With a slight forward lean to prevent loss of balance, pull both handles together in front of you, contracting the pecs in order to do so.
  • Once your hands have come together, slowly reverse the motion to complete the rep.
  • Perform 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

2. Push-Up

Push-Up

The humble press-up, also known as the push-up, is one of the best exercises ever developed. 

This move works so many muscles of the upper body and it can be done anywhere any time. Better yet, you can adjust this exercise in tons of different ways to make it easier or harder, if desired. 

How to Perform:

  • Place your hands on the ground directly beneath your shoulders.
  • At the same time, place your toes on the ground, with your feet spaced about hip-width apart. 
  • Bend your elbows and allow your shoulders to extend backward as you slowly lower your chest to the ground.
  • Once you’ve gone as low as you can, press yourself back up into the starting position.
  • Complete 10-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

3. TRX Push-Ups

TRX Push-Ups

As was mentioned in the previous exercise description, the press-up can be modified in a variety of ways. One such way is to perform press-ups on an unstable surface. 

TRX straps provide a safe, yet unstable surface upon which you can perform push-ups. By completing pushups on this device, you recruit more abdominals as well as stabilizer muscles throughout your body. 

How to Perform:

  • Hold one TRX handle in each hand.
  • If needed, take stock of your position relative to the ground. If you feel like you want more of a challenge, adjust the straps so that your trunk is parallel to the floor. If you feel like these push-ups are too tough, adjust the straps in the other direction. 
  • Slowly, bend your elbows and allow your shoulders to extend backward as you lower yourself down.
  • Once you’ve reached the bottom of your range, push yourself back up into the starting position.
  • Complete 10-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session. 

4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Bench pressing is one of the best ways to strengthen the upper body in general and the chest specifically. 

By modifying the bench press and performing incline presses, you can really target the upper fibers of your pecs and various muscles in your shoulders.

How to Perform:

  • Set the angle on your bench to roughly 40 degrees from parallel.
  • Next, grab two dumbbells and position yourself on the bench, with the weights at your shoulders and your back flat against the bench.
  • Press the weights up toward the ceiling, stopping just before fully locking out your elbow joint.
  • Then, return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  • Perform 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

Bench Press with Bar

Using a bar instead of dumbbells is a great way to mix up your exercise regimen. 

Both bars and dumbbells offer numerous benefits to lifters, but neither one is necessarily better than another. Rather, these are two key variations that should both be included in your chest routine!

How to Perform:

  • Lie down flat on the bench, with your feet placed firmly on the floor.
  • Grab the bar at a comfortable width for you.
  • With the help of a spotter, unrack the weight and slowly lower it down to your chest.
  • Once you’ve lightly tapped your chest, push the weight back up toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

Narrow Grip Barbell Bench Press

As you can see, there are tons of small modifications you can make to the bench press which will change the exercise in profound ways. 

The narrow grip bench slightly tweaks the angle of the movement, leading to more activation of certain muscles when compared to the standard bench press.

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the bar with a narrow grip (a good way to measure this is to extend your thumbs across the bar. If you can touch the tips of your thumbs together, you’re in the right position!).
  • With the help of a spotter, unrack the bar and slowly lower it to your chest.
  • Then, push the bar up to the ceiling.
  • Complete 10-12 reps per set for 3 sets per session.

Standing Triceps Dips 

While dips are often thought of as strictly a triceps exercise, they are also great for the chest muscles. 

Also, by leaning forward slightly while you perform dips, you can significantly increase the contribution from your pecs during the movement.

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the parallel bars with both hands.
  • Push yourself up toward the ceiling to start.
  • Then, lower yourself down slowly, by bending your elbows and allowing your shoulders to extend backward. Be sure to prevent your shoulders from “hiking” up during this part of the movement.
  • Push yourself back up to the start to complete the rep.
  • Aim to achieve 12-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session. 

Chest Fly Machine

Chest fly machines come in many different varieties. Some of them allow you to rest your forearms on the handles, while others require you to grasp the handles with your hands.

Regardless of how it’s set up, the chest fly machine is one of the best chest exercises out there.

How to Perform:

  • Sit on the machine, with the seat set at a comfortable height for you.
  • Grasp the handles with each hand.
  • Pull your hands toward each other, attempting to bring them together in front of you.
  • Slowly allow the handles to return to their starting position.
  • Complete 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

Pinched Plate Press-Outs

This exercise adds a shoulder and core stability component that is lacking in most conventional movements. 

By “pinching” the plates together throughout the move, you put huge amounts of stress through your chest muscles. 

How to Perform:

  • Grab 2 or 3 10-pound plates.
  • In standing, squeeze the plates together by pressing your hands together in front of you, on each side of the plates.
  • Continuing to squeeze, press the weights out in front of you, extending your arms.
  • Return your hands to the starting position.
  • Complete 10-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session. 

Horizontal Abduction with Band

Last but not least, we’ll review the horizontal abduction exercise. Technically the pecs are an agonist to this movement. 

However, it’s important to incorporate antagonistic movement to ensure that you have stability across your joints throughout your body.

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the band in both hands.
  • In standing, pull the band apart, keeping your elbows as straight as you can.
  • Hold the end-range position for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Complete 10-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

The Takeaway 

Building up a big chest can be challenging. However, this goal is achievable, as long as you have the right tools at your disposal. 

By making sure that your diet is on point, you’re giving your max effort with every workout, and that you select the best exercises possible, you can increase your chest size and strength very quickly!

Works Cited

  1. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health16(24), 4897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
  2. Haładaj, R., Wysiadecki, G., Clarke, E., Polguj, M., & Topol, M. (2019). Anatomical Variations of the Pectoralis Major Muscle: Notes on Their Impact on Pectoral Nerve Innervation Patterns and Discussion on Their Clinical Relevance. BioMed research international2019, 6212039. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/6212039

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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