5 Beginner Exercises To Take To The Gym For A Complete Chest Workout
The chest is arguably the bedrock of a solid physique. It provides the upper torso width to complement the abs, back and shoulders, and also provides a ton of upper body stability to allow better performance when doing just about any push exercises, working out the arms and shoulders, and doing core work.
The secret to building a chest like Dwayne Johnson?
Well, way too many people fail to realise the importance of a well-balanced chest workout, despite the fact that it's one of the more complex areas in terms of muscular structure anywhere in the body.
These are the exercises you need to know to make sure you're not only hitting your chest as safely and efficiently as possible, but also working it from every angle.
Flat/Incline/Decline Bench Press
Muscles worked: Upper/Lower Pectorals
Some form of bench press is pretty vital when doing just about any chest workout, however you can work in some variation by switching between not only between flat, decline and incline positions, but also through swapping out between a barbell and a set of dumbells. As a rule of thumb, flat bench presses generally target the most pectoral muscles at once, with incline bench press hitting the upper pecs harder. Because your arms are lower in a decline position, decline bench presses generally work your bottom pecs and core a little more. Choosing between dumbbells and barbells is a matter of personal preference and flexibility.
As barbells spread the weight you're taking over a greater area, they generally put a less of a strain on your shoulder stabilisers, while dumbbells offer a greater range of motion and a deeper pectoral stretch if your shoulders are strong enough to cope with the more concentrated weight.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, triceps, traps
Floor presses are a very good way of building explosive strength in your chest without straining your pecs, shoulders and back as much as a normal bench press would. The floor provides additional support for your triceps and shoulders, allowing them to work far more efficiently with your chest muscles to get the weight up. The trick is to emphasize the negative rep as much as possible, before using the floor as a platform to push up from. For an even greater challenge, you can take your hips out of the equation by doing these in a bridge position.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, biceps, anterior deltoids
Everyone's favourite "pump" exercise, flyes are noted for their ability to help not only build a strong inner chest through activating the primary heads of the pectoral muscles, but also in helping to build strong front shoulders and, through keeping your arms slightly bent, give your bi's a bit of a workout too. Because flyes are all about squeezing your chest muscles as much as possible as you bring the weights together, they're particularly good for not only stretching your chest out on the negative, but also activating the inner part of your chest that bench presses often fail to hit.
Similarly to bench presses, incline flyes activate the clavicular head of the pectoralis major in your upper chest, as opposed to the middle-basedsternal head.
Body Weight Dips
Muscles targeted: Delts, pectorals
Traditionally seen as a tricep exercise when done backwards on a bench, utilising a pull up machine to do some dips can also do your chest and shoulders a world of good. Acting as a more extreme version of a push up, body weight dips target the chest and shoulders the more that you lean forward into them, helping to build your chest and shoulder stabilisers without bringing the triceps too much into the equation.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, lats
The idea behind pullovers is that they activate the sternal head of the pecs, using the back as a stabiliser, effectively letting you get a "pull" motion into your chest workout. The key to doing a good pullover is to keep things at a manageable weight and keep a slight bend in your elbows, thereby taking your triceps and shoulders out of the equation as possible. It should be your chest pulling the weight up as much as possible, nothing else.