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Top 5 Chest Exercises E-mail
Written by Lynn Glenn   

With all the chest exercises out there and with new ones addedchest_strong, seems like daily, it can be confusing which ones work the chest muscles best. Some new chest exercises are trendy to get attention or to sell new products, but most work your chest to a lesser agree. The question is then asked what are the best chest exercises? Most agree the top five chest exercises that are listed below are the top chest exercises for the developing a great chest.

Although these chest exercises have been around for many years, they still are proven to be most effective chest exercises according to most health and fitness professionals. If you incorporate the suggested top chest exercises: incline press, flat press, flies and dips you will hit all your chest muscles from various angles and as a result you will see great results.

Top 5 Most Effective Chest Exercises

Although the following chest exercises are in some order of importance, they all are equally beneficial for developing a picture perfect chest. None of the top 5 movements should be avoided if at all possible. By incorporating these top 5 chest exercises you will target all parts of the chest including: the Pectoralis Minor, Pectorlis Major (Clavicular, Sternal),  while incorporating secondary muscles of the triceps and deltoids .

Barbell Incline Bench Press  

Barbell Incline Bench Press is listed as number 1 because it is simply the best exercise for hitting the Chest's Pectoralis Major, Clavicular. Barbell Incline Bench Press works the Deltoid, Anterior and Triceps Brachii as Synergist and with Stabilizers Biceps Brachii, Short Head.

Follow this procedure for performing Barbell Incline Bench Press correctly.

  1. Lie on an incline bench and grip barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. 
  2. Keep feet flat on floor, butt and shoulders planted firmly on the bench and un-rack the weight.
  3. With arms straight over your chest lower the bar to your upper chest, while inhaling, pause briefly. 
  4. Drive the weight back up, while exhaling, to the starting position.
  5. Continue until the desired number of repetitions has been met.

Tips: Make sure that the bench is angled at no more than 30 degrees. Avoid bouncing and jerking the weight, instead use a smooth and controlled motion. Avoid locking elbows at top of movement.

Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press (Bench Press) is the most recognizable and most use chest exercise. The Bench Press seems to gauge your strength in many eyes. How many times have you heard the question asked "how much can you press". There is very little relevancy in that question unless you're competing as a power lifter. Barbell Bench Press is by far the best exercise for targeting the Pectoralis Major, Sternal. Barbell Bench Press uses the Petoralis Major Clavicular, Deltoid Anterior and Triceps Brachii as synergist with stabilizer Biceps Brachii, Short Head.

The following is the correct procedure for completing Barbell Bench Press:

  1. Lie on a flat bench and grip barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. 
  2. Keep feet flat on floor, butt and shoulders planted firmly on the bench and un-rack the weight.
  3. With arms straight over your chest lower the bar to your upper chest, while inhaling, pause briefly.
  4. Drive the weight back up, while exhaling, to the starting position. 
  5. Continue until the desired number of repetitions has been met. 

Tips: Come to a complete stop after the barbell touches your chest. Avoid bouncing and jerking the weight up using momentum, instead use a smooth and controlled motion. Avoid locking elbows at top of movement. 

Flat/Incline Dumbbell Press (Dumbbell Bench Press)

The Dumbbell Bench Press is similar to the Barbell Bench Press but with arms working independently of one another and not lock together as with the barbell. For some the Dumbbell press is easier on the shoulders because the arms moving independently of one another. Another difference with Dumbbell Press it will allow a deeper stretch at bottom by allowing the weight to drop deeper and pushing the barbells closer together at the top with a slight arch movement. Remember when performing the following Dumbbell Press exercise always maintain control of the dumbbells at all times.

The following is the correct procedure for performing the dumbbell press:

  1. Sit down on bench with dumbbells resting on lower thigh, then kick weights to shoulders and lie back. An option to kicking weights up to shoulders is to have someone hand you the weights when you're in the lying position.
  2. Lift weights overhead to starting position as you would a barbell. With feet planted firmly on floor for stability lower the dumbbells from arms length to as low as possible on you outer chest.
  3. Pause briefly, push up and return to starting position with a slight arch motion.
  4. Squeeze, then repeat.

Tip: You can vary the distance between your sides and elbows to take pressure off the shoulders.

Flat/Incline Dumbbell Fly

The Dumbbell Fly is an isolation exercise for the Pectoralis Major, Sternal. 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.

  1. Lie on bench with dumbbells at arm's length with a slight bend in elbows (internally rotate shoulders so elbows to the sides). 
  2. With palms facing in, slowly lower the dumbbells out to the sides while inhaling until you feel a comfortable stretch.
  3. Bring the dumbbells back up together while exhaling as if you were hugging a barrel.
  4. Repeat.

Tip: Be sure not to bend your arms too much. If you bend your arms to a 90 degree angle to complete the rep, the weight is too heavy.

Dips

Chest Dips is similar to the triceps version. Chest Dips closely resemble what you would be trying to accomplish with the decline press when trying to work the phantom 'lower Pecs'.  With using a wide dip bar you will target the Pectoralis Major, Sternal more than just the Triceps Brachii. Chest dips is a great finishing exercise that also strengthens the triceps for chest pressing exercises. To work the chest and not so much the triceps, lean slightly forward. As you increase in strength you can add a weight belt and some plates, hold a dumbbell between your feet or use other weighted dip equipment.

Perform Dips as Follows:

  1. Start with your arms almost fully extended with shoulders above hands.
  2. Lean slightly forward to keep tension more so on the Pecs than the triceps.
  3. Lower body by bending arms allowing elbows to flare out to sides.
  4. When stretch is felt in the chest, pause and squeeze your Pecs then push body up to starting position.
  5. Repeat reps to failure.

Tips: To work the chest and not so much the triceps, lean slightly forward. Never lock your elbows. Bending your legs and crossing your feet will shift the center of gravity to aid in leaning forward, allowing more of the chest muscle to be involve. If you have shoulder problems, consider skipping this exercise.

Honorable Mention: Incline Smith Machine Press, Decline Barbell Fly, Pec Dec Fly, Cable Cross Over would be mention if doing top 10 chest exercises. 

Note: Decline Bench Press is left out of the list of the most effective chest exercises because the decline bench press is reported to work the lower chest, however, there is no lower chest muscles; therefore there is no need to perform an exercise like the decline bench press. However, if you are a big fan of this movement, feel free to work in the Decline Bench Press to change up your routine a bit. I will reiterate however, that there are better chest exercises to spend your time doing that will work your chest in a more complete fashion. If you love being upside, then my suggestion, is work in decline flies. At least with a fly movement you will use less triceps than you would doing the decline press.

Additional Training Articles 

For  more great bodybuilding and fitness articles check out this page. 

About the Author Lynn Glenn  

Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn is a 63 year old natural athlete from Southern California  who started training at the ripe young age of 48. After catching the "bodybuilding bug" Lynn Glenn became very interested is living a healthy lifestyle and started writing about hot topics in the areas of anti aging, health, fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, personal training and disease prevention. Lynn's success in the gym serves as a tremendous inspiration for many "mature" weightlifters trying to look better, feel better and beat father time! To contact Lynn regarding personal training, or product endorsements, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit his personal page at http://www.musclemagfitness.ning.com/

 
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