The chest Exercise muscles play an important role in your body’s movement, posture and overall strength, especially as you age, so it’s important to maintain strong pectoral muscles throughout your life. However, with so many exercises and training options out there, knowing which ones are the most effective can be confusing and frustrating. This guide includes five of the craziest but most effective chest exercise, providing you with what you need to push yourself hard in the gym without wasting time or effort on less effective techniques that may leave you disappointed and injured.
1) Chest Dips
One of my favorite chest-building exercises, dips have been around for decades. Just do as your gym teacher taught you in junior high—place your hands on a bench, keep your body straight and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push yourself back up. This version hits all three heads of your chest muscles (upper, middle and lower). If you don’t have a bench handy, it’s easy to make one at home using two sturdy chairs with enough room between them for you to rest your legs. A low step also works just fine for dips; start with only a few inches of clearance under each leg and work up from there as you get stronger.
2) Svend Press
an exercise developed by Danish bodybuilder Svend Karlsen. He began using it after he suffered a broken elbow and was unable to perform his routine at home. The exercise is quite simple: Lie on your back and bend your knees so that they touch your elbows without moving anything else (ie. Do not raise them). This should place tension on your pectorals while keeping your upper body still, and when done properly, fatigue in one minute. It’s important not to move from where you’re positioned until time is up because Svend Press are meant to be as difficult as possible for maximum results. Just don’t forget about what we learned in chemistry class—for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction!
3) Seated Cable Flyes
Lie on a bench with your feet firmly planted. Grab a pair of handles and extend them straight over your chest, keeping them parallel to each other (they should look like airplane wings). Contract your pecs as you pull both ends of cable inward towards each other, creating a slight V-shape with your arms. Hold for 1 second and repeat for 10 repetitions per set. This is an isolation exercise that targets only your chest muscles; thus it’s great for fine-tuning muscle definition but isn’t ideal for building overall size.
4) Decline Bench Press
A decline bench press targets your upper pectorals, or upper chest exercise. Doing decline presses engages your entire pectoralis muscle group, which is composed of three main parts: upper, middle and lower. The pec major—one of two muscles that make up your upper chest—runs straight down from your collarbone to about where your abs begin; it makes up most of what you see in a mirror when you flex. The subclavius muscle is located underneath the clavicle and goes all around under your armpit; its primary function is to stabilize and protect your shoulder joint. When doing decline presses, be sure to lock out at the top so that you’re contracting those lower pecs.
5) Hammer Strength Machine Pushdowns
Pushdowns are great for training your triceps, but they’re also fantastic for targeting your chest. It’s more than just a mind trick—this exercise will actually build mass in that muscle. Hammer strength machines are excellent for isolating and creating a strong contraction in your chest. Adjustable to target different positions of your arm (if you choose). Stand behind it with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, grab handles at its lowest setting, and squeeze hard as you push down on it. Make sure not to lock out elbows when pushing weight up. Stop when arms are parallel to floor (or lower depending on how intense of a workout you want). Let triceps recover fully before doing another set.