There are tons of exercises you can do to work your pectoral muscles but chances are you don’t want to spend weeks wasting your chest day trying them all out.
Instead, you’re likely looking for the most effective exercises – so we’ve gone through the trouble of putting together a list for you.
Kind in mind these aren’t necessarily the most difficult exercises.
They are, however, the most effective ones for building mass and we will explain why that’s the case. Feel free to use some, most or all of them in your routine – or swap them out for something different as your body gets used to them.
Barbell Bench Press
You had to figure this one would be on the list as it’s a bodybuilding classic.
Barbell exercises allow you to move more weight than dumbbell exercises since the weight is more evenly dispersed making it easier to lift and control.
The great thing about the barbell bench press is that it’s not too complicated and can be learned relatively quickly.
Not to mention there are tons of programs out there specifically designed around improving your bench press. Since this is a very heavy lift make sure you do it towards the beginning of your workout and for lower reps.
Incline Barbell Bench Press
When doing this exercise make sure you are only at a slight incline. Some benches are fixed in a position that is too far up which brings significant front delt involvement into the exercise – taking the focus off the chest.
A slight incline however will keep the focus on the upper chest.
Most guys start their chest workouts with flat bench then move on to incline bench. We are here to tell you that trend needs to stop.
Every once in awhile start your workout with incline bench. This will allow you to lift more weight and emphasize them more. Remember that part of having an aesthetic physique is having a balanced chest – upper and lower.
Flat Dumbbell Press
The big advantage of dumbbell exercises over barbell is that each side of your body works independently and more stabilizer muscles get worked.
You are able to get a superior range of motion and are easier to perform without a spotter as you can drop the weights safely to your sides.
Although you won’t be able to lift as much weight on these as you can on the barbell bench press you should still be performing these towards the beginning of your workout.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Performing the dumbbell bench press on an incline bench brings more upper chest into the exercise.
Depending on the weight you are lifting and the other exercises in your routine this exercise can be performed first or much later.
Machine Decline Press
The advantage of certain machines is that they allow you to move each arm independently.
This provides you with more options on how to train – for example you can press each arm individually or together.
Another benefit to machine declines is that you don’t need a spotter and they are safer to perform than lying on a decline bench and getting the weights into position.
Stick to free weight exercises first when it comes to the order of exercises in your routine.
This one can be performed afterwards since it doesn’t need as many stabilizer muscles.
Dips can be an effective chest or tricep exercise depending on how you do them.
To target the chest, make sure you put your feet up behind you and lean forward, letting your elbows flare out to the sides. They are a great alternative to decline press as they don’t require a spotter and can be performed upright.
Depending on how strong you are this could be performed early in your routine or at the end. If bodyweight dips start to get too easy then try performing them while holding a dumbbell between your feet or get a belt to hang extra weight from.
A lot of guys struggle with dumbbell flys as the arms need to be locked in a fixed position throughout the exercise.
With peck-deck the exercise is simplified since the movement plane is fixed which really helps get used to the motion. This should be the last exercise in your chest routine since the weight is low and it doesn’t require stabilizer muscles.
Incline Dumbbell Pull-Over
These are far more effective than flat bench pull-overs as they keep your chest muscles under tension for a longer time given the increased range of motion. Remember to keep the elbows locked throughout the movement. These should be done towards the end of your workout.
Incline Cable Fly
As opposed to dumbbells, cables allow for continuous tension throughout the exercise. This makes them more effective and provide a better chest pump. These should be done at the end of your workout for higher reps.