A big chest can be appreciated and noticed year-round — under a tank top or shirt, it shows. Building a good chest doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some of my favourite movements.
Barbell Flat Bench Press
The bench press is a classic exercise. Powerlifters do it to see who has the most pressing strength, gym rats use it to build up their pecs, and athletes utilise the bench for explosive pushing power.
Lay back down on a bench, arch your lower back slightly, and plant your feet on the floor. Pull your shoulder blades together to enhance stability and upper back strength. Grab the bar (varying grips) and squeeze the hand hard to flex the arm and grip muscles maximally. With the load unracked, think about pulling the barbell to the body to touch the sternum/base of the chest. Press the weight upwards, making sure to keep your back tight, and shoulder blades pulled together.
The dip is another bodyweight gem. Compared to the push-up, which has you on all fours, you’re suspended for the dip, and so your complete bodyweight is in play.
Grab the dip bar firmly and get yourself in the top of the dip position, with your upper back tight and shoulder blades squeezed together. Angle your torso slightly forward and allow your elbows to bend as they slightly tuck inwards towards the sides of the torso. Lower yourself down until your elbows bend at about 90 degrees. When ready, press through the handles and bring your body upright into the top of the dip position.
Incline Bench Press
The incline press is somewhat of a hybrid of an overhead press and flat bench press, and so pressing a barbell (or a pair of dumbbells) from an incline recruits more of the muscle fibres in the upper chest and taxes the shoulders a bit more.
Adjust a workout bench so it is at a 45-degree angle and set up similar to that of the flat bench press. Unrack the barbell and begin to pull the load downwards to line with the upper chest (a few inches below the clavicle). With the shoulder blades pulled together and elbows angled at about 45 degrees. Push the barbell upward.
The chest flye — which can be done with dumbbells or on a cable machine — is a popular bodybuilding exercise to stretch the muscle fibres and pump up the muscle. That pump will help to drive nutrient-rich blood to the target area to help speed up recovery.
Lie back on a bench (either flat, decline, or incline), with a dumbbell in each hand. With a slight bend in your elbows, lower your arms out to your sides slowly and with control. Now, reverse the motion to engage the chest. You should look like you’re hugging a tree.