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Key Exercises for Developing Perfect Pecs E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar's Steriod Free Perfect Pecs
To develop perfect pecs you need to work the chest from various angles, using various movements. The following are the most common exercises for hitting all areas of the chest

Incline Bench Press

  • Use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip.
  • Let your partner unrack the weight.
  • Steady the weight above your chest and bring it slowly down.
  • Let it touch your chest and then push it back up.
  • Repeat

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, secondary emphasis on triceps and front deltoids.

I feel this movement places more stress on the deltoids then the flat bench press because of the angle it's performed at.I usually do this movement first in my workout to ensure mass in my upper pecs.  I don't believe you should lock your elbows at the top of the movement--it allows your muscles to rest.

Incline Bench/Dumbbell Press

  • Sit on an inclined bench with the dumbbells resting on your quads. You want to bring them up so that your hands are just above shoulder height. With heavier weight, this is not easy.
  • Either get a spotter to hand you the weights or kick one leg and then the other up.
  • Once you have the dumbbells inline with your upper chest and shoulders slowly push the weight up and squeeze the dumbbells closer together along the way.
  • Lower the weight slowly and repeat.

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, secondary emphasis on triceps and front deltoids.

Notes: I feel this movement places more stress on the deltoids then the flat bench press because of the angle it's performed at. I usually do this movement (or the barbell version) first in my workout to ensure mass in my upper pecs. I sometimes pause at the top of the movement and consciously try to flex my pecs to maximize the stress.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

  • For barbell press, first make sure you have a spotter.
  • Then lay the bench so that the racked weight is just a tad behind your shoulders.
  • Use a wider than shoulder width grip, but don't go too wide or you'll reduce your range of motion too much.
  • Have your partner help you lift the bar off the rack.
  •  Lower the weight slowly down till it touches your chest.
  • Bring it back up with just as much control.Note: I don't like to lock my elbows at the top of the movement, because it takes some of the stress off your muscles and puts it on your skeletal structure, which is not the point of the movement.
  • Repeat

Muscles Worked:  Pectorals, secondary emphasis on triceps and front deltoids. 

Flat Bench/Dumbbell Press

  • Start seated on a bench with the weights resting up and down on your quads.
  •  Lay back and swing the weights back to the point where the corners of each dumbbell is just touching your outer pecs.
  • Push the weight up, bringing them slightly closer together at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the weight back down slowly--two seconds on the way down for every second on the way up is a good rule.
  • Repeat.

Incline Dumbbell Flies

You'll need to use lighter weight for this exercise than the pressing movements. I'm actually able to use slightly heavier poundage for incline flies than I am for flat flies. As with the other dumbbell movements, you'll need to kick the weights up from your legs to get them in position--especially with the incline flies.

Press the weight up as with any other pressing movement to get started. With your elbows bent a little farther out than 90° lower the weight down. Slow down a lot towards the bottom of the movement so that when you switch directions to squeeze the weight back up you don't tear anything. Keep the elbows bent at the same angle as you move the weights up over your chest in an arc. Stop just short of touching the weights together.
Muscles Worked: Pectorals particularly upper and outer pecs, secondary emphasis on triceps and front deltoids.

Flat Dumbbell Flies

For this chest exercise you will need a flat bench and a set of dumbbells.

  • Sit down on the edge of a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lie back, keeping the dumbbells close to your chest.
  • Then lift the dumbbells over your chest by extending your arms.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Keep your hips and shoulders flat on the bench and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Your arms should be lightly bent and slightly wider than shoulders and your palms should be facing each other.
  • Keeping a slight bend in the arms, slowly lower the dumbbells to the sides of your body in an arc-like motion. At the lowest point, your bent elbows should be on a horizontal plane, even with the bench.
  • Slowly bring the weights back up over your chest in an arc. Imagine that you are circling your arm just like hugging a tree trunk. The bend in your elbows should remain constant throughout the exercise.
  • As with the other exercises, remember to squeeze your chest muscles hard and focus on your pecs doing most of the work instead of your biceps, triceps and deltoids.
  • Repeat.

Muscles Worked: Pectorals particularly outer pecs, secondary emphasis on triceps and front deltoids. Incline variety places more stress on upper pecs. 

Decline Press

For this exercise, you need a special bench with a place to hook your legs so that you don't slide down off the bench. If your gym doesn't have one, you can still do decline dumbbell presses using a decline sit-up board.  From that point, the execution is the same as any other pressing motion.

Muscles Worked:  Pectorals particularly lower pecs, secondary emphasis on triceps.

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

If you're working with heavy dumbbells, you'll probably have to have help getting them up for the first rep because it's a real bear to try and curl them up off the ground onto your chest. If you're using a barbell then just have your partner unrack the weight and stabilize it for you.

Muscles Worked:  Pectorals particularly lower pecs, secondary emphasis on triceps. 

Cable Cross-Overs

  • Stand in between the pulleys of an adjustable-pulley-rack.
  • Move the pulleys so that they are at or above shoulder height--you may have to experiment to decide what you like best.
  • Adjust both sides to be the same weight and grab one of the handles.
  • Pull yourself over to the other side and grab the opposite handle.
  • Move back to the center and let the weight pull your arms out so that they are extended nearly straight out. 
  • Bend your elbows slightly and lean forward at about a 60 degree angle.
  • Pull your hands across your body so that they meet in front of you.
  • For an even greater squeeze, cross one hand under the other and alternate which hand goes on top each rep. Note:  do not to let the weight jerk your arms back to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Muscles Worked:  Pectorals particularly inner pecs. Area can vary depending on angle used.


The important point to remember here is you need to feel the stretch. This means going all the way down to see the full benefit of the exercise. If you're getting sets of 10 and 15 without straining too hard then you probably need to add some more resistance, using a weight belt or by simply cradling a dumbbell between your legs.

To increase the role the pecs play in this movement, point your elbows outward. Keeping them tucked in and pointed back forces your triceps to bear the brunt of the load--not necessarily bad, but you need to decide whether you're doing it for your chest or your triceps.

Muscles Worked:  Pectorals particularly outer pecs, strong emphasis on triceps.

About the Author  

Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. His work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on  major health, and fitness websites. Behar is also a well sought after personal trainer, motivational speaker, and weight loss expert.








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