Chest exercises

Together with the leg and back muscles the chest muscle is the biggest muscle group in your body. The complete chest muscle is called Pectoralis major. From an anatomical point of view the chest muscle consists of 3 different parts: the sternocostalis, clavicularis and abdominalis. In addition, you can also distinguish the inner part of the chest muscle as a separate part of the chest that you can train. These are the 4 parts of the chest muscle that you can isolate during your chest workout:

 

Clavicularis: upper chest muscle

Sternocostalis: central chest muscle

Abdominalis: lower chest muscle

Middle: inner chest muscle

 

In the overview below you see which exercise focuses on which part of the chest muscle:

 

chest exercises bench press dumbbell press incline decline

 

All chest exercises can be divided into 3 different types of exercises: barbell, dumbbell and machine & bodyweight exercises.

chest exercises bench press dumbbell press incline decline

Each exercise below contains a full description, an overview of the muscles that you target and the level of difficulty to perform the exercise. Difficulty: level of complexity regarding the performance and technique of the exercise:

  

Beginner

●○○○○ & ●●○○○

Intermediate

●●●○○ & ●●●●○

Expert

●●●●●

 

Exercises

chest exercise bench press

1. Bench press

Put the bench in a horizontal position. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Then lower the bar towards the middle of your chest. You can either press the bar back up just before it hits your chest or you let it touch your chest and then press it up again. Make sure that when you press up you don’t lock your elbows. Ensure constant tension on the chest muscle by always keeping your elbows slightly bent when performing the press.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


Chest exercise incline bench press

2. Incline bench press

Put the bench in an incline position at about 30 to 45 degrees. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Then lower the bar towards the middle of your chest. You can either press the bar back up just before it hits your chest or you let it touch your chest and then press it up again. Make sure to keep tension on the chest muscle during the entire exercise. Don’t lock your elbows when you press up.

Target muscle(s): central & upper chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercises decline bench press

3. Decline bench press

Put the bench in a decline position, so that your head is lower than your feet. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Then lower the bar towards the middle of your chest. You can either press the bar back up just before it hits your chest or you let it touch your chest and then press it up again. Just like performing the ‘normal’ bench press make sure to keep tension on the chest muscle during the entire exercise. Don’t lock your elbows when you press up.

Target muscle(s): central & lower chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercise dumbbell chest press

4. Dumbbell press

You perform the dumbbell press in the same way that you perform the bench press with a bar. Put the bench in a horizontal position. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Press the dumbbells up and then slowly lower them back. When your arms are in a 90 degree angle press the dumbbells up again. You can choose to lower the dumbbells a little further to stretch your chest muscle a bit extra. This is not possible when you perform the bench press with a bar.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercises incline dumbbell press

5. Incline dumbbell press

Put the bench in an incline position at about 30 to 45 degrees. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Press the dumbbells up and then slowly lower them back. When your arms are in a 90 degree angle press the dumbbells up again.

Target muscle(s): central & upper chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercise decline dumbbell press

6. Decline dumbbell press

Put the bench in a decline position, so that your head is lower than your feet. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Press the dumbbells up and then slowly lower them back. When your arms are in a 90 degree angle press the dumbbells up again.

Target muscle(s): central & lower chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercises dumbbell fly

Put the bench in a horizontal position. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Stretch your arms out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Make sure that the palms of your hands are pointing inwards. Bring the dumbbells together above your chest, keeping your arms stretched when you perform the exercise. Then slowly let them lower back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): Upper & inner chest muscle

 

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercises incline dumbbell fly

8. Incline dumbbell fly

Put the bench in an incline position at about 30 to 45 degrees. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Stretch your arms out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Make sure that the palms of your hands are pointing inwards. Bring the dumbbells together above your chest, keeping your arms stretched when you perform the exercise. Then slowly let them lower back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central, upper & inner chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercise decline dumbbell fly

9. Decline dumbbell fly

Put the bench in an decline position, so that your head is lower than your feet. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Stretch your arms out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Make sure that the palms of your hands are pointing inwards. Bring the dumbbells together above your chest, keeping your arms stretched when you perform the exercise. Then slowly let them lower back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central & lower chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


chest exercises close grip dumbbell press

10. Close grip dumbbell press

Put the bench in a horizontal position. Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground. Start with both dumbbells resting on your chest. Push them together and press them up. Your arms are stretched and the dumbbells are above your chest. Slowly lower the dumbbells back towards your chest by lowering your elbows next to your body.

Target muscle(s): inner chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


chest exercises standing cable press

11. Standing cable press

You perform this exercise at a cable station. Attach a handle to both cables. Stand in the middle with your back towards the station. Place one foot in front of you which will be used to apply your weight on. Bring the cables to a stretch. During the initial position, your arms are bent and you have your elbows at shoulder height. Push straight forward until your arms are fully extended. Bring your hands together so that there is tension on your chest muscle. Then slowly bring your arms back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


chest exercise seated cable press

12. Seated cable press

Take a seat on the machine. Attach a handle to both cables. Bring the cables to a stretch. During the initial position, your arms are bent and you have your elbows at shoulder height. Push straight forward until your arms are fully extended. Bring your hands together so that there is tension on your chest muscle. Then slowly bring your arms back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


chest exercise push up

chest exercise incline push up

14. Incline push up

Rest on your hands and toes. Place your hands on a step to position your body in an incline position. Your feet are slightly apart and your arms are in line with each other at shoulder height in a 90 degree angle. Drop down with your chest towards the ground by lowering your elbows. Just before you hit the ground, press yourself up again.

Target muscle(s): upper chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●○○○


chest exercise decline push up

15. Decline push up

Rest on your hands and toes. Place your feet on a step to position your body in a decline position. Your feet are slightly apart and your arms are in line with each other at shoulder height in a 90 degree angle. Drop down with your chest towards the ground by lowering your elbows. Just before you hit the ground, press yourself up again.

Target muscle(s): lower chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●○○○


chest exercise machine chest press

16. Machine chest press

Take a seat on the machine. Make sure that when you hold the grips your arms are in a 90 degree angle and your elbows are at the same height as your shoulders. Press out until your arms are stretched. Don’t lock your elbows, always keep them slightly bent. Then return slowly back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty ●●○○○


machine chest fly chest exercise

17. Machine fly

Take a seat on the machine. Place you upper arm and a part of your fore arm against the armrests. Make sure that your elbows are on the same height as your shoulders and your arms are in a 90 degree angle. Push the armrests towards each other and just before they touch slowly bring them back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central & inner chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●○○○


chest exercise chest dips

18. Chest dips

You perform this exercise at a dipping station. Grab both bars and lower yourself until your arms reach a 90 degree angle. Your elbows are bent and they point backwards. Don’t bring your elbows out but keep them as close to your body as possible. Lean forward so that you apply tension on your chest muscle. After dropping down press yourself up again to starting position.

Target muscle(s): central chest muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○

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chest muscle group exercises

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