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The Best Chest Exercises You Need To Build A Bigger Chest


The right chest exercises can help you build a strong and muscular chest quicker. There are numerous chest exercises you can do, more than 80 are available with just a quick internet search.

Trying all of them to find which ones are right for you, can be an exhaustive task. If you are starting out from scratch, then these 6 exercises are fundamental to building strength and mass. You can then evolve your workout routines to include more intense movements.

Again, this list is not a collection of the most extreme chest exercises. Instead, it is focused on basic yet effective movements that anyone can start with. The goal is to build muscle strength allowing you to workout with greater intensity which leads to muscle growth.

When working out your chest, you are mainly focused on your pectoral muscles. This is the largest muscle group in your chest. Now, to work out your entire pectoral muscles, you will be required to do the same movement but at a different angle. Each variations hits a different part of your pectoral muscles.

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Chest Exercise

A chest workout needs to have a mix of movements and variations. You can use bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells or machinery for a complete workout. If you are just starting out, consider using lower weight to get your chest accustomed to lifting weights.

The amount of sets and reps you should do is not written in stone. Fitness experts and professional bodybuilders all have their unique approach to how much you should lift, the sets and rest period.

With that said, this is our approach to chest exercises. Because 4 out of 6 exercises are bodyweight movements, you should keep the sets to three with varying reps depending on the intensity and your ability. The goal should be to push to failure with bodyweight training. The more you strain, the more you grow. Hence, no pain, no gain.

If you are looking to increase strength, then go for 3 sets with 8 to 12 reps. Increase the amount of reps as you finish a set. This should help increase the burn. By the end of the third set, you should be feeling an deep burn in your chest.

If you are looking to build strength, then your focus needs to be on lifting heavier weight. Keep your reps to 8 and sets to three. After finishing a set, increase the weight and continue lifting.

Your rest duration depends on how heavy you are lifting. Average rest duration between a set is 1 to 2 minutes. However, you can also rest for 3 minutes if you are lifting heavy.

Chest press or bench press, depending on your equipment, are the same movements that both work your pectoral muscles. A decline and incline variation are necessary for you to hit the top and bottom parts of your pecs.

The push-up variations are crucial for strength and endurance building while they also help to add mass. Push-up variations also help hit the top and bottom part of your pectoral muscles. The reason we do variations with the same movement is because the pectoral muscle is quite large in size. And just a standard push-up or chest press is not enough to work all of the parts of your pecs.

Now that you know exactly how you need to lift, let’s look at the 6 movements.

6 Strength And Muscle Building Chest Exercises

Let’s start this list with 2 variations of the chest press. You can either do it on a bench with a barbell or with a chest press machine. The three variations are: decline, incline and normal. If you don’t have access to gym equipment or machinery, you can always make your own barbell. A shower rod and two backpacks full of books or whatever weight you can gather, can be turned into a makeshift barbell.

Incline Chest Press:

The purpose of the incline chest press is to work on your upper pectoral muscles. Start off by setting your bench at an incline of 15 to 30 degrees. The incline also exerts pressure on your shoulders as well. So, it’s better to avoid working out your shoulders the next day as your deltoids have been sorta-kinda worked out.

Also, the incline chest press works your upper part more. To ensure that your entire chest is worked out, make sure to include the decline version to balance your chest gains.

Step by step instructions:

  • Make sure the incline of the bench is between 15 to 30 degrees. If you exceed the 30 degrees’ incline, you’ll be working out your shoulders and not chest.
  • Use a shoulder wide grip and firmly wrap your fingers around the bar. Your palms should be facing away from you.
  • Now, lift the bar up, push it straight up and hold it with your arms locked.
  • Slowly breathe in and bring the bar down. Bring it down until it is only an inch over your chest. During the downwards movement, your arms should be at a 45-degree angle and parallel to your sides not resting on your sides.
  • Next, hold this position for just a minute and then push the bar back up with your arms locked.
  • Repeat this movement for the amount of reps you have planned in your workout routine.
How to do an incline dumbbell press. Source: Verywellfit

Decline Chest Press:

The decline version works on your lower chest. Now, shift the bench to a 15 to 30-degree decline. Decline chest press definitely helps your pecs look more defined and balanced. Just like the deltoids were worked in the incline chest press, the decline also puts pressure on your biceps, triceps and the anterior deltoid.

Step by step instructions:

  • Set your bench to a 15 to 30-degree decline and lie down with your eyes directly under the barbell.
  • Firmly grip the bar with your palms facing forwards. Again, use a shoulder-width grip but just slightly wider than the grip used for incline.
  • Move the barbell upwards and lock your elbows.
  • Now, bring the barbell down until it is barely over your middle chest.
  • Pause for a minute moment and then push the bar back upwards.
  • Complete the amount of reps required by your workout routine
How to do a decline chest press. Source: ChrisGym


The most common exercise known to mankind. Push-ups work your pectoral muscles, biceps, triceps and anterior deltoids. So, if you have just finished the decline chest press, these reps won’t be easy. When doing push-ups, you are working your entire chest.

This movement works your pectoralis minor and major making them strong and defined. Meaning, push-ups are an absolute necessity if you want to build a strong and brawny chest.

FYI: The difference between a push-up and a press-up is the grip. If the hands are wider than the shoulder-width grip, it is a press-up.

However, doing a push-up is all about form, something not everyone gets right. Every expert will debate how form is key during push-ups because a slight variation will have you working on a different muscle group.

These rules should help achieve proper form.

Step by step instructions:

  • The distance between yours has to be shoulder width apart.
  • Now, with this grip, get down on all fours.
  • Straighten your legs, this is your resting position.
  • Next, start lowering your body until you are just above the floor.
  • You can pause at this position for a more intense workout
  • Finally, push yourself up to the resting position.

Pushups GIF by Hockey Training - Find & Share on GIPHY

Incline Push-ups:

This is another great chest exercise using only bodyweight. The incline helps you work more than just your pectoral muscles. It is a bit easier than the next variation, as the incline utilizes less bodyweight.

Step by step instructions:

Before you can start, you need a stable structure that is 3 feet high. A stool, table, stairwell, anything works as long as its 3 feet high.

  • Firmly grip the elevated structure, your grip should be shoulder width apart.
  • Now, make sure your arms are straight and feet are aligned with the body.
  • Start by bending your elbows and lower your chest till it’s just away from the structure.
  • Next, pause at this phase for an intensified burn.
  • Finally, raise yourself up keeping your body straight the whole movement.
How to do incline push-ups. Source: Verywellfit

Decline Push-ups:

A more strenuous chest exercise that works on your upper pectoral muscles and front shoulders. In this movement, your feet will be elevated and your body will be on the ground.

Step by step instructions:

You need a raised object like a step, a chair, or a bench. The higher your feet are elevated, the more the burn. We recommend starting with a lower surface for beginners.

  • Kneel down and place your feet on top of the bench, next place your hands on the floor with a shoulder wide grip.
  • Now, brace yourself in this position before lowering yourself down.
  • Bend your elbows until your chest is just off the ground.
  • Make sure, your neck and back is straight throughout this movement.
  • Push yourself back up to the rest position.
How to do a decline push-up Source: Verywellfit


Diamond Push-ups:

The last in this list of chest exercises is the diamond push-up. The overall movement works on your chest, core, shoulders, and triceps. The stance of the diamond push-up, making a diamond with your hands, especially focuses on the triceps and chest muscles.

Diamond push-ups are a more intricate chest exercise. Because your hands are practically joined, you have a smaller space of support. So, this exercise requires a lot of balance to pull off.

Step by step instructions:

  • Your hands should form together just below your chest. Join your thumbs and index fingers and make a diamond like shape.
  • Next, lower yourself from the resting position  by bending your elbows.
  • Lower down till your chest if just above the floor.
  • Bring yourself back up in the resting position

Final Note On Chest Exercises

Your chest is a huge muscle. The right chest exercises can have the impact you are looking for. Even bodyweight chest exercises can help increase mass and build strength.

When you combine 4 or 5 quality movements, you’ve got yourself a complete workout. Even if you are only using two movements but the variations, sets and reps add the intensity needed to build strong and bulky muscle.



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