Build Chest Mass With Our Best Chest Workout Guide
Trying to get rid of those man boobs? Want a more manly chest to burst through your clothes? We’ve got you covered today with our top 3 exercises to create the best chest workout for you.
What’s the first thing you think of when going to the gym? Chest day? How much can you bench? We all know that the bench press is the king of the chest workouts, right? Is it really though? Let’s break down the science and figure out what the best exercises really are for chest activation.
Can Science Help Me Build A Massive Chest?
Exercise science is important in understanding what exercises you should be doing during your workouts. This is especially true for your chest as many other muscles can come into play and actually prevent you from getting the most out of your chest workout.
EMG data plays an important role in deciding what exercises will get you the most bang for your buck. So if you want that big meaty chest, you’ll want to pay attention to the EMG data for your chest workout routine.
What is EMG? It’s the process of placing sensors on the body and measuring the muscle activation and contractions going on. This is a great tool to measure how well an exercise can work a particular muscle or set of muscles.
Why The Flat Barbell Bench Press Isn’t The Best
Every gym bro knows that the barbell flat bench is the go-to for building a massive chest. Not really though…. While the flat barbell bench does rank high in EMG studies . It is also known to activate your front delts too. Since the front delt muscle is so small, it can also get tired faster. This means that you could fatigue on this exercise before your chest has really gotten a full workout.
The flat bench can also be a risk for injury to your deltoid muscle, rotator cuff, and others. Warming up properly and using proper form can help reduce the risk but it’s still there based on the research .
So while the flat bench may be good for your ego or for powerlifting meets, there may be a better option in terms of chest muscle growth.
Barbells vs Dumbbells Which is Better For Chest Growth
No doubt you’re going to be stronger when using a barbell in most cases but is it the best choice for your chest day routine? Probably not in my opinion and also based on EMG data . Dumbbells recruit many more muscle fibers than barbells. Much of this has to do with all of the stabilizing muscles that are involved when you’re holding to unsteady options like dumbbells. When you’re holding on to a barbell, there is some added stability built in because it’s so rigid. Holding on to dumbbells takes more strength and stability from your body, making them a better choice.
Dumbbells also allow for more natural movement patterns, when using a smith machine or a barbell you are restricted in the movement pattern. Dumbbells will allow you more freedom to move in a way that is more natural for your body structure.
So using dumbbells is going to provide similar or greater muscle activation, build stabilizing muscle fibers and be safer. So put down your ego and the barbell and start working with dumbbells instead.
Best Chest Workout Exercises
Related: 5 Steps: How To Get Shredded Fast!
Ok, ok… on with it already. Let’s go over my picks for the best chest exercise options that you can put into your chest day workout routine.
Dips are a great choice for building a big chest and you can do them almost anywhere. Even if you don’t have access to proper gym equipment, you can do dips using chairs, tables, countertops, railing, etc. Get creative and drop the excuses!
Dips are also great because they use so much more than your chest. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here!
Don’t worry if you can’t do them with weight, try bodyweight dips to start. Can’t do bodyweight dips? No worries, check for your gym for assisted dip machines or an assisted pull up machine that can be used for dips as well.
Tips For The Chest Dip
- Lean forward for more chest activation
- Don’t let your shoulders move, lock them in place by retracting your back
- Stop slightly before locking out your elbows
- Focus on the eccentric portion (the downward movement)
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
The incline press is the king of building a big upper chest. Many guys are lacking in the upper chest department due to focusing on the flat bench. Using dumbbells for the incline press will also help build those stabilizers we were discussing earlier as well.
If you want some more upper chest activation, be sure to try overhead presses as well. For more advanced lifters, try the standing overhead press. Many overhead pressing movements are known to activate the upper chest in addition to the shoulders.
Tips For The Incline Dumbbell Press
- Keep the incline between 30 and 45 degrees for the best results
- Don’t lockout completely at the top, this keeps the chest muscles activated
- Keep your shoulders and upper back retracted
- Stay rigid throughout your body, including your core
Decline Dumbbell Chest Press
Many of you probably haven’t tried any type of decline press. When I’m at my local gym, I don’t see too many bros doing decline. I’m not sure why because the chest activation is great and the shoulder activation is reduced on this exercise. That means that more of your muscle building power is being focused on your chest.
From my experience, once you’ve done decline presses a few times I’ve noticed people tend to be stronger on this exercise than other chest presses. This means you will be pushing more total weight during your workout if this is true for you.
Tips For The Decline Dumbbell Press
- A 30 degree decline is optimal
- Keep your back and shoulders retracted
- Keep your body rigid for more stabilization
- Keep your chest out and focus on contracting your chest
Bonus Chest Exercise – Cable Flys
We’ve got a bonus for your chest workout, cable flys. These should definitely be in your chest day routine. They are great for isolating and also allow you more freedom than pec deck and other fly machines.
Cable Fly Tips
- Focus on the eccentric (arms coming back to your body)
- Squeeze your chest hard at the end
- Keep your ego at home, choose a weight that is good for 12-15 reps but is still challenging
- Keep your shoulders back, if they round forward you might be using too much weight
- Vary the movement, use low cable flys, high cable flys etc.
Bonus Muscle Building Tips
- Eat Enough Protein – 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight
- Eat Enough Food – For optimal muscle growth you need to be in a calorie surplus
- Focus on Eccentrics – Don’t put all of your focus on the concentric portion, focus on the downward or end of the rep. Slow it down some
- Mind Muscle Connection – Focus on the muscle that you’re working, feel the muscle and squeeze it for powerful contractions and growth