IF YOU REALLY want to pump up your pecs and build the best chest in the gym, you need targeted exercises that exhaust your muscles in the best way possible.
Because the chest muscles (specifically the pectoralis major, aka pecs) are so huge, and contribute to so many movements, you’ll need more than just a handful of exercises to build your chest from every angle.
These 30 chest exercises will develop your pecs (and the surounding musculature), spark greater levels of strength, and give you a more imposing physique.
1. Barbell Bench Press
Grasp the bar just outside shoulder-width and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows about 45° to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up.
2. Dumbbell Bench Press
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights at shoulder-level, then press the weights straight up.
3. Smith Machine Incline Press
Set an adjustable bench to a 30°-45° incline, and roll it into the center of a Smith machine rack. Grasp the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar, lower it to the upper part of your chest, and press straight up.
4. Incline Dumbbell Flye
Set an adjustable bench to a 30°-45° angle, and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your wrists so your palms face each other. Press the weights straight over your chest, then, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, spread your arms open as if you were going for a big bear hug. Lower your arms until you feel a stretch in your pecs, then bring the weights back together over your chest.
5. Cable Crossover
Stand between two facing cable stations with both pulleys set midway between the top and bottom of the station. Attach a D-handle to each pulley and hold one in each hand. Keep your elbows slightly bent, and step forward so there’s tension on the cables. Flex your pecs as you bring your hands together out in front of your chest. Alternate stretching and flexing after each set.
6. Incline Dumbbell Press
Set an adjustable bench to a 30°-45° angle and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder-level. Press the weights over your chest.
7. Chest Press Machine
Load plates on both sides of a flat-press machine, and adjust the seat so that both of your feet are flat on the floor. Grasp the handles and press to a full lockout.
8. Dumbbell Flye
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and spread your arms wide, lowering the weights until they’re even with your chest. Flex your pecs and lift the weights back to the starting position.
9. Low-Cable Crossover
Stand between two facing cable stations and attach a D-handle to the low pulleys on each. With a handle in each hand and elbows slightly bent, raise your arms from waist height to out in front of your chest, flexing your pecs as you bring them together.
10. Low-Incline Press
Set an adjustable bench to an incline of no more than 30°, or rest a flat bench on a weight plate or mat to tilt it slightly. Grasp the bar just outside shoulder-width, and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows about 45° to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up.
11. Speed Bench Press
Bench press as described above, but do so on a totally flat bench. Use 60% of your max. So if you think you can bench press 250lbs one time, perform your sets with 150, exploding each rep off your chest as fast as you can.
12. Landmine Press
Wedge the end of the barbell into a corner of the room (to avoid damage to the walls, you may have to wrap a towel around it). Load the opposite end with weight and grasp it toward the end of the barbell sleeve with your right hand. Stagger your stance so your left leg is in front. Press the bar straight overhead.
13. Floor Press
Lie on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should face each other and your triceps (but not your elbows) should rest on the floor. Explosively press the dumbbells up. Lower them until only your triceps touch the floor. Pause for a moment, then begin the next rep. Increase the weight gradually each set.
14. Prone Flye
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into pushup position on the floor with palms facing each other. Spread your arms apart as in a normal dumbbell flye and lower your body until you feel a stretch in your chest, then squeeze the dumbbells and bring your hands back to pushup position. Keep your abs and glutes braced and your back flat throughout. If you’re using plate-loaded dumbbells, you may be able to roll the weight plates on the floor during the flye. Otherwise, you can place a towel under each dumbbell to facilitate sliding. If this is too difficult, perform the exercise on your knees.
Lie on your back on the floor and hold one dumbbell overhead with both hands. Press the weight over your chest, then reach back over your head, bending your elbows only slightly. Continue until you feel a stretch in your lats, then pull the dumbbell back over your chest. Take a deep breath every time you lower the dumbbell behind you.
16. Plate Pressout
Hold a pair of light weight plates together, smooth side out, between your palms right in front of your chest. Squeeze the plates together, focusing on your chest, and press them out in front of you until your arms are extended. Flare your lats and pull the weights back to your chest. Complete your reps and then, on the second set, press the weights downward from your chest at a 45-degree angle. On the third set, press them upward at a 45-degree angle.
17. 3-Way Flye
Attach a suspension trainer to a sturdy overhead object and lengthen the straps to a point where you would to do pushups. Grasp the handles and get into pushup position with hands under your shoulders. Your entire body should be straight and your core braced. Bring your arms out to your sides as if you were giving someone a bear hug. Lower your body until you feel a stretch in your chest and then bring your arms together again. That’s one rep of the flye. Perform three reps.
Then, from the starting position, open your arms but keep your elbows bent so that the move looks like a combination of a pushup and a flye. Press yourself back up. That’s one rep of the bent-arm flye. Perform three reps.
From there, return to the starting position and perform pushups on the handles. All of the above equals one set.
Get into pushup position with hands under your shoulders. Your entire body should be straight and your core braced. Lower your body, keeping your elbows tucked near your torso and your head neutral, until your chest is almost touching the floor. Fire your chest and triceps and raise your body back to pushup position.
19. 3-Way Finisher
Reverse Flye: Grasp the handles and lean back away from the trainer’s attachment point so your weight is on your heels and your body is about 45 degrees to the floor. Allow your arms to extend in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw your arms back until they’re 90 degrees out to your sides. (Keep a slight bend in your elbows.) That’s one rep of the reverse flye. Perform five reps.
External Rotation: From the start position of the reverse flye, draw your upper arms back with your elbows bent 90 degrees and knuckles facing the ceiling. Your upper body should make a W shape. That’s one rep of the external rotation. Perform five reps.
Face Pull: From there, return to the starting position with arms extended and pull your hands to your forehead, twisting your palms to face in front of you as you pull. That’s one face pull. Perform five reps. All of the above equals one set.
20. One-Armed Medicine Ball Pushup
Get into pushup position resting your right hand on the medicine ball and left hand on the floor. Lower your body until your chest is just above the floor, then push back up.
21. Medicine Ball Pushup “Drop ‘n’ Pop”
Place both hands on the ball and get into pushup position. Quickly let go of the ball and spread your hands out to shoulder width on the floor. When you feel your chest touch the ball, push yourself up fast so your hands come off the floor and land on the ball again.
22. Close-Grip Pushup
Perform these as you would normal pushups, but position your hands close together. The closer together your hands are, the more this exercise emphasizes the triceps.
23. Medicine Ball Crossover Pushup
Perform a pushup with one hand on the ball. At the top of the pushup, take your hand off the ball and roll it to the other hand. Put your other hand and the ball, and do another rep.
24. Plyo Pushup
Perform pushups but explode upward on each rep so your hands leave the floor and you can clap before landing. When you land, go immediately into the next rep. Stop the set as soon as your movement slows down, even if it’s before six reps are completed.
25. Wide-Grip Pushup
Place your hands wider than shoulder width and perform pushups.
26. Band-Resisted Pushup w/ Feet Elevated
Grasp an end of the band in one hand and wrap it around your back. Pin both hands to the floor with the ends of the band in your palms. Rest your feet on a box, bench, or mats so that your body forms a straight line parallel to the floor. Perform pushups.
27. Band-Resisted Flye
Attach a band to a sturdy object at shoulder height and repeat with another adjacent to it. Alternatively, tie two bands together and anchor them at the same point behind you. Hold the opposite ends of the bands in each hand and step forward so that your arms are drawn back 90 degrees to your sides and you feel a stretch in your pecs. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, bring your hands together in front of your chest as if you were giving someone a bear hug.
28. Triceps Extension
Start in pushup position, then rest your forearms on the floor with palms down. Keeping your core tight and your body in a straight line, extend your elbows so your arms are straight.
29. Pec Deck
Set up the Pec Deck so the vertical bars are positioned close to the machine. Adjust the seat so the handles are roughly chest height. While facing away from the machine, reach back with one hand to grab one handle, then the other. Pull the handles together and resist tension on the way back.
30. Wide-Grip Dips
Keeping your arms straight, hold your body up on two parallel bars that are a couple inches wider than shoulder-width apart. Descend until your chest is roughly in line with your hands, then push back up to the starting position, locking out your elbows. Descend while keeping your torso slightly horizontal to the ground, which emphasizes the chest muscles over your triceps.