Best Chest Exercises For Men
Being a man who enjoys lifting weights there is no better feeling than a just completed chest workout. That pump and the feeling of having worked your chest hard is difficult to beat. Some guys live for chest day. At my work there’s a gym in the office building I go to whenever I don’t have anything going over my lunch hour. For the past several years there’s a guy from another company who goes about the same time I do, just before the lunch rush. I call him my workout boyfriend. We shoot the shit while we work out and he does the kinds of workouts where you target one body part per session. I’m hoping he won’t read this because while he does great workouts for his upper body he never does any leg work. His reasoning is that’s why they make pants. But I digress. The point I was trying to make is that he LOVES chest day and is almost to the point of whistling zip itty do dah on chest day. Every other workout is kind of a grind for him but he is ALWAYS in a good mood when it’s chest day.
For a guy nothing quite gets the self confidence going when you have a well developed chest and some nice pipes to go with them. It definitely makes you look better and helps you feel better. Let’s take a look at some of the best chest exercises for men to help get you PUMPED.
The King – Bench Press
The king of all chest exercises is the bench press. Young studs often use how much they can bench press as a barometer for their level of studliness. “How much do you bench bro?”. While the bench press is essentially known as the king of chest exercises I don’t want you to think it’s all about the amount of weight you can do. This is true with really any weight lifting exercise so keep it in mind for chest. For instance at my hey day I would bench 275 lbs. Those days are long gone unless I want to get hard core about it. I typically don’t do more than 225 lbs and that’s when I am feeling quite motivated. Typically I do 5-6 sets of the bench press hitting around 8-10 repetitions. Depending on how I am feeling will drive how much weight I will do. Remember you can mix this up in a lot of different ways. For instance try the 10 X 10 sometimes. Do 10 sets of 10 repetitions each of the bench press. Or only do 6 reps but at the highest weight you can do. Try doing 15 reps of a lighter weight. There’s all kinds of ways you can mix this up. If you are going for a heavy weight don’t mess around, get a spotter. You don’t want to be stuck with the weight 1/2 way up and no one to bail you out.
Almost as Good – Dumbbell Press
You can achieve pretty close to the same results and working the same part of your chest by doing dumbbell presses. Same format as the bench press but it has the added bonus of using stabilizing muscles since you are lifting 2 different weights instead of one. With these you need to lift the dumbbells onto your knees, lay back on the bench while lifting the dumbbells to the starting position. Since you are using two different weights there is a greater chance of injury, in particular to your shoulder joints so be careful to not try to do too much weight. If you are lifting an amount that is a challenge always ask a buddy to spot you.
Inclines and Declines
Depending upon the equipment you have available you can also use a bench press bench with a barbell or dumbbells to do both incline and/or decline presses. If you do inclines this is putting a heavier emphasis on the upper part of your chest as well as the front muscle of your shoulders. If you work in some declines this will typically hit the bottom part of your pectoral (chest) muscle harder than the rest. It’s a good idea to work in exercises that will hit all 3 parts of your chest muscle for a solid overall development. I will typically do either a bench press or a dumbbell press FLAT in every chest workout and then will alternate between something for my upper chest and something for my lower chest the next workout. I go back and forth on my chest workouts. You can do inclines and declines with either a barbell or dumbbells. I have found I can’t lift as much weight when I am doing inclines as I can when I am doing declines. Try them out to see which one you prefer.
So dips are something I discovered a number of years ago. I now incorporate them into my chest workout on a regular basis. When I started I couldn’t do very many reps. Now when I am feeling motivated I will hook a 25 pound dumbbell on my legs for the additional resistance. Cranking out some dips will give you a great burn. Dips are a great total upper body exercise and should definitely be in your regular rotation. Besides hitting your chest hard they also are a great workout for your triceps, shoulders (front head) and to some extent your upper back as well. They have also been said to be beneficial with a general overall widening of your chest muscle. Definitely worth working into your overall chest workout.
Dumbbell flies are essentially an isolation exercise for the pectoralis major muscle. When the Dumbbell Fly is performed correctly, your pecs will be doing almost all the work. Both Flat and Incline Flies are performed the same way with hitting the chest at slightly different angles. For optimal results you should alternate between the flat and incline flies. I have found that this is a great exercise for finishing off your chest workout. This is definitely one of those exercises that you need to be very aware of how much weight you can manage. DO NOT go too heavy with flies as you can hurt the delicate inner part of your shoulder muscles if you try to lift too much weight.
How here is an exercise you can do anywhere and everywhere. Well, you might not want to drop and crank out 20 push-ups while you are walking down the hall at work. Or maybe you want to, I don’t know, that’s up to you. The point is you can work push-ups into any workout just about anywhere. I have found doing push-ups in my hotel room as a great way to get in a quick exercise if the hotel doesn’t have a gym. Push-ups are a great upper body exercise that are particularly focused on your chest and back but also hit your shoulders and triceps as well. Here is the proper form for a great well done push-up:
- Place your hands straight and direct below your shoulders
- Keep your head, back and buttocks in a straight line – this one is a struggle for many folks
- Extend your legs so the weight is on your toes
- Engage your core and glutes
- Pull your shoulder blades down and back
- Lower your body in a controlled manner until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle
- Keep your elbows tucked in close to your body
Once you decide to incorporate push-ups into your workout and you are good at cranking out a bunch there’s a lot of variety to push-ups you can choose from. I like to put my feet on a bench or bed and hit my chest from a different angle. You can do a clap between push-ups although I find this to be very hard on the wrists. When I am feeling motivated I will do push-ups with a 20 lbs. dumbbell in each hand and in between each push-up will raise the dumbbell straight up to my side to get an extra burn on the side muscles in my back.
For my money these are the best exercises you can do to build a strong robust chest. Remember you don’t have to get super complicated. I typically will do 2-3 different exercises for my chest with a grand total of 12 – 15 total sets. I personally like to do my heaviest weights at the beginning of my workout and finish with either a few lighter-medium sets of dumbbells, doing either some flies or some dips. But the key is to use some variety, don’t always do 6 sets of bench press followed by 6 sets of dips for a year. Mix it up and do some different exercises as well as in a different order. Also, I have found doing super sets as a great way to get a different kind of burn on my chest. So doing something like lighter reps of a bench press quickly followed by 15 push-ups. Or doing 20 dips followed by a set of dumbbell flies with a lighter weight. This way you do the same amount of reps but you do it faster and stress your chest muscles in a new way.
I have had great success with Power Systems. I have ordered a variety of equipment through Power Systems that helps me in many of my workouts and for a chest a good flat bench and some dumbbells are a good start. If you want to jump right in look for a dip bar and even a full bench press set. Click on the link below for a straight shot to their website and take a look around, lots of great equipment to help you on your way to building a great chest.