The pectoralis major is the largest muscle group in the upper body. The chest muscles are large slabs spread across the upper torso, so the best chest workout is achieved by using heavy weights in a number of exercises that focus on the upper, lower, inner and outer pecs.
The pecs are “pushing” muscles that tie in closely with your arms and shoulders. When you work your chest, your triceps and deltoids also get some work. The size, spread and depth of your pecs is directly related to the weights used in your training regimen.
Exercises Used to Develop the Pecs
Bench Press – When the chest is the topic of conversation and evaluation, the bench press is the first exercise considered. This exercise may be performed in a variety of ways and using different benches, grips, angles and weights.
The Olympic bar commonly used and the plates are the only commonalities in the types of bench presses.
A wide-grip on the bar while using a flat bench is the basic bench press. The wide grip will put more exertion on the outer pecs. Whether the bar is lowered to the neck or to the chest will determine whether the upper or middle of the pecs is worked.
When the bar is lowered to the middle of the chest and the elbows are kept at the lifter’s sides, the triceps are involved in moving the weight. When the bar is lowered to the neck and the elbows are splayed widely, the frontal deltoids are involved with the pecs.
The bench press may be performed on an incline board and the bar lowered to the neck. This will exercise the upper pecs. When performed on the decline board, the lower pecs are worked.
Parallel Bar Dips – These are very good for working the inner and upper pecs when the lifter’s hands are at shoulder width. Placed wider, the outer pecs and delt-pec tie-in are involved.
Dumbbell Exercises for a Chest Workout – Dumbbells may be used for a number of bench exercises that closely approximate the Olympic bar lifts. They may also be used to perform flies on a flat, incline or decline bench. These are good for stretching the pecs and ripping them up.
Cable-And-Pulley Machine – This device is good for chest finishing exercises like the two-handed crunch, where the exercise begins with arms spread wide and then the handles are brought together in front of the chest, with the arms slightly bent at the elbow.
Bent-Arm-Pullover – This move is performed on a flat bench with the weight on the floor. The lifter assumes a supine position and reaches back over his head for the barbell. Keeping his arms bent, the weight is brought to the chest in a circular motion.
A compound exercise is performed when the weight is then pressed from the chest as a close-grip bench press. The return is back to the chest and then lowered to the floor in a circular motion.
The best chest workout is to begin with the heavier weight exercises (bench press) and move “down the ladder” through the barbell exercises to the dumbbells and finally to the bodyweight resistance exercises to finish off the pecs.