Are you looking to sculpt a strong and defined chest? Look no further than these chest exercises that will help you build muscle, improve your posture, and boost your confidence.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, these exercises will challenge you and help you achieve your fitness goals.
However, chest muscles are not only for men who want to look like a bodybuilder – chest workouts are for everyone, and in fact – everyone should incorporate them into their workout routines!
Not only will we tell you why that is the case, but we’ll also teach you exactly how to train your chest a bit more moving forward.
So, let’s dive in and discover the top chest exercises that will take your workout routine to the next level!
Benefits of Exercising the Chest
Before we take a look at the specific exercises for your chest, you might be wondering “why should I work on my chest?”.
Unless you are into bodybuilding at the gym and want that specific aesthetic for your own body, it can be hard to see the advantage of working out this body part.
However, exercising the chest reaps a lot more benefits than simply looking more toned!
For one, strengthening the muscles in your chest will help to stabilize the shoulder joint. This is because the chest muscles actually connect to your upper arm and play a huge role in any shoulder movements.
Whenever you move your arms across your body, your pecs are working.
The stronger the muscles surrounding a joint, the better protected said joint is – goodbye shoulder pain!
But did you know that your chest muscles also play a big role in your breathing?
This is due to the fact that your pecs connect to the ribs and help to lift and lower them, which allows your lungs to shrink and expand in return.
Working on those muscles will help you to breathe more efficiently and more importantly, deeper, as well.
While it may not be obvious at first glance, deep breathing is actually one of the single best things you could be doing for your health since it not only calms down your nervous system, but it also aids in digestion and posture.
Speaking of posture – working out your chest will help with that, too.
Now, it’s no secret that working on your chest will help you in building more upper-body strength, but do you know why having more muscle is good for you?
When you have more muscle mass, you burn more calories, even when you are lying in bed! Plus, you can lift more, which will make your workouts more effective over time.
Not only will your chest workout be a great warmup for any smaller muscles you will work on later on, but you automatically exercise more of your body at once whenever you work out your chest muscles.
All these benefits are hard to ignore, so hopefully, you now see the big advantage of working out your chest.
Muscles to Target
Now: when we talk about your chest muscles, let’s be really clear about what exactly we are referencing.
The chest is mostly made up of 3 different muscles: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, and Serratus Anterior.
You might be able to see why we call them “pecs”, already!
The Pectoralis Major is your big chest muscle, it is the largest muscle of the anterior chest wall. It originates from your clavicles, your sternum, and your upper ribs and connects to your upper arm.
Its function is to bring the arm closer to your body and rotate it inwards, but also to flex your arm to 90 degrees and extend when it gets above 90 degrees.
The Pectoralis Minor, on the other hand, is the small chest muscle that originates from some of your upper ribs and connects to the top of your shoulder blade.
Because of that, its function is mainly to stabilize the scapula and bring it slightly down and forward.
The Serratus Anterior runs from under your shoulder blades to the lateral parts of your ribs.
This muscle is responsible for rotating your shoulder blades and bringing them outward and forward.
All three of these muscles work together to form the entirety of the chest muscles.
Now that we know what muscles we want to target – how do we actually work them out?
Types of Chest Exercises
First off, let’s take a look at the different kinds of chest exercises there are:
Body Weight Exercises
Body weight exercises are great since they require no equipment. They are a type of strength training that only uses a person’s own body weight to work the muscles.
While in some cases these exercises might be frowned upon as not being very efficient, they should not be underestimated.
With the right form, cadence, and volume, bodyweight exercises can be an amazing way to give your chest a difficult workout.
The great thing about these is also that most bodyweight exercises allow for progression, which means that absolute beginners, as well as advanced athletes, can find an exercise that works for them.
One of the best-known bodyweight exercises, and one that really works your chest, is the standard push up.
Resistance Band Exercises
Resistance Band Exercises are a step up from bodyweight exercises.
All resistance training is aimed at building and strengthening muscles, and when you use external resistance such as dumbbells, bricks, bands, or bottles of water, the stimulus on your muscles will be greater than when you just use your body weight.
Resistance bands are nice because they add variety to your workouts while still improving strength, power, muscular endurance, and hypertrophy.
There are different types of resistance bands and you can choose how big you want the resistance to be.
An example of a chest exercise you can do with resistance bands is a straight-arm pulldown.
Free Weight Exercises
Free weights are a type of strength training that uses objects which are not attached to anything and can be moved, like medicine balls, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, resistance bands, and handbells.
Using free weights in your training is an excellent way to build functional strength, coordination, and stability.
Since free weights don’t restrict movement in any way, they are great for building strength, but they also increase the risk of injury by a lot.
When using free weights, you should make sure to have a perfect form so that you lower your risk of injury as much as possible.
A good example of a chest exercise using free weights would be Dumbbell Flys.
Best Exercises to Get Tighter Chest
Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises to get a tighter chest!
Traditional pushups are beneficial for building strength in your entire upper body, not just your chest. The muscles that are targeted include the triceps, pectoralis major, and pectoralis minor.
When you use the proper form for pushups, you can even strengthen your lower back and abs by engaging your core throughout the move.
Another huge plus is that pushups are quick and effective, and you can do them from anywhere!
Adjusting your grip will also change which muscles are targeted the most.
The best variation for working on your chest is wide-grip pushups which force your chest muscles to work a little harder.
How to do Push Ups:
- Start down on all fours with hands just wider than shoulders; keep your head in line with the back
- Place hands flat directly below shoulders, point fingers straight ahead, and look straight down
- Extend legs to form a straight line; balance weight on balls of feet with back and legs as straight as possible
- Lower yourself until elbows are at a 90-degree angle; engage your core and breathe in
- Push yourself back up until your arms are straight; breathe out and lift your body up
- Try to do as many push-ups as possible with good form; start with 5-10 reps and add reps or sets for the challenge
- Avoid raising hips, sagging, locking elbows, or lifting too quickly
Butterfly Chest Press
The Butterfly Chest Press strengthens and tones the pectoralis major muscle.
When doing this exercise, you are not only developing your chest, but also the front of your shoulder and your upper and middle abs.
With the Butterfly Chest Press you are strengthening your entire torso, which will lead to a more balanced physique.
But that’s not all, by doing this exercise you will also prevent shoulder injuries by adding stability to the chest region.
Aesthetically, you can broaden your shoulder muscles and tighten your core with this exercise while simultaneously improving your posture.
How to do butterfly chest press:
- Select a free weight to use, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, or kettlebells, starting with a light weight of 5-10 lbs.
- Lie on a bench and place the weights straight over your chest with a slight bend in your elbows and palms facing each other.
- Lower the weights slowly outward to the sides of your body, as low as possible, and hold for one second. Raise the weights back to the starting position. Maintain a consistent arc in arms throughout the motion.
Chest Flys is another great exercise that targets the pectoral muscles, anterior deltoid (the front of your shoulder), and upper and lower abs.
This move can be done using dumbbells, barbells, or cables.
When you do Chest Flys, you will strengthen your chest muscles and add stability to your whole torso, which will prevent shoulder injuries.
How to do Chest Flys:
- Lie flat on a flat incline bench, feet firmly on the floor on either side of the bench
- Ask a spotter or gently pick up 2 dumbbells and hold 1 in each hand
- Extend arms above the head with a slight bend at the elbows and palms facing each other
- Slowly lower dumbbells in an arc motion until in line with the chest and arms extended to the sides
- Exhale and slowly press the dumbbells up in the same arc motion
- Perform 10-15 reps, rest, and do 3 sets total.
Dumbbell pullovers are an accessory strength-training exercise. This move targets the pectoralis major and the latissimus dorsi in your back.
This is a great exercise to use as a finisher at the end of your workout to strengthen your chest and build muscle mass.
How to do dumbbell pullovers:
- Hold dumbbells above your chest with arms extended, back flat on a bench/stability ball.
- Lower your arms to the side of your ears, then return to starting position.
- To make it easier: choose a lighter weight, or do a bent-arm dumbbell pullover.
- To make it harder: choose a heavier weight, and hover your feet a few inches above the bench.
Tips on Getting tighter chest
If you want a tighter chest, a workout alone is not going to cut it. Your diet and exercise need to go hand in hand in order to get that “toned” look a lot of people are striving for.
That means that both cardio and strength training should be included in your routine, and you should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week.
When trying to work on your chest, use a variety of different chest exercises while also progressively overloading the exercises you are doing (making it a bit harder each time).
Of course, proper form should always be your top priority to ensure that you are not getting injured.
Make sure to use strength training to target specific body areas and cardio to enhance your cardiovascular health and help with fat loss.
However, fat loss happens mostly in the kitchen – try to eat plenty of lean proteins and veggies, minimize processed and sugary food, and drink plenty of water every day.
While it’s great to be active, you should make sure to get plenty of rest so taht your body has enough time to recover and build muscle.
When it comes to losing stubborn body fat, your workout are sometimes not as important as your activity level throughout the day.
Try to be more active by walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while talking on the phone, etc.
This will substantially increase the number of calories you burn each day and you will start to “tone up” without even realizing it!
- How often should I do chest exercises for the best results?
3-4 times a week is recommended. Just make sure to give your muscles a break in between workouts and use proper form and technique.
- What type of equipment do I need to perform exercises for a tighter chest?
You don’t need any special equipment to do chest exercises, but some common pieces of equipment you might use are resistance bands, dumbbells, or a weight bench. Other equipment designed specifically for chest exercises includes dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, and cable machines.
- How many sets and reps should I do in a chest workout?
For sets and reps, it is recommended to do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise.
- What tips do you have for maintaining good chest form and avoiding injury?
It is important to warm up, seek professional advice, and use proper form when doing chest exercises in order to avoid injury. The good form includes squeezing your chest at the peak of each rep, breathing properly, keeping your back straight, and not lifting too much weight.
- How long will it take for me to see the results?
It is possible to see results from chest exercises within 2-4 weeks, but for the best results, it is important to consistently perform chest exercises for 6-8 weeks. The timeline for results depends on your commitment, diet, and other factors.
Anna is our massage, recovery, nutrition, and training specialist. She holds a degree in Medical Massage Therapy from the Bergler Massage Institut and a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist degree from the OTL Academy. She is originally from Austria but lives in the U.S and when she is not writing science backed articles for thefitnesstribe.com you can find her globe trotting around the world.