Chest exercises: nine options for home and gym

Chest exercises: nine options for home and gym
  • What are pectoral muscles
  • How to train your pectoral muscles
  • Chest exercises in the gym
  • Chest exercises at home
  • Expert comments

The pectoral muscles, consisting of the pectoralis major and minor muscles, perform important functions such as moving the arms and supporting respiratory functions. Effective chest training requires the right approach and understanding of anatomy, which is especially important to achieve the desired results without injury.

Weight training at the gym and bodyweight workouts you can do at home not only improve your chest strength and size, but also improve your overall fitness, posture, and strengthen your upper body muscles. The approach to training should be individual, taking into account the current level of physical fitness and health.

Methods and recommendations based on current research in the field of fitness and anatomy help to work effectively and safely on strengthening and developing the pectoral muscles, regardless of where you train.

What are pectoral muscles

The pectoral muscles are a group of muscles located in the front of the chest. The main components of this group include the pectoralis major and minor muscles.

The pectoralis major muscle is a large muscle that starts from the sternum, collarbone and ribs and attaches to the humerus. It plays a key role in the movement of the shoulder joint, providing functions such as adduction of the arm to the body, internal rotation of the arm, and lowering of the shoulder.

The pectoralis minor muscle (pectoralis minor) is located under the pectoralis major. It starts from the upper ribs and attaches to the shoulder blade. This muscle helps lower the scapula, as well as rotate and move it forward.

The pectoral muscles perform several functions that are extremely important for daily activities and sports. They are involved in arm movements, especially raising, lowering and rotating, as well as processes associated with breathing, supporting the expansion of the chest. Effective chest training helps improve strength and overall functionality of the upper body.

Brett Contreras, “Anatomy of strength training using your own weight as a weight”

How to train your pectoral muscles

The rules for doing chest exercises may vary depending on your specific goal and physical fitness. Here are some general guidelines.

  • Execution technique. Always make sure to perform the exercises correctly. Correct body position, movement control and weight management are important. For example, when lifting dumbbells in a bench press, your elbows should be below shoulder level and your back should be pressed against the bench.
  • Variety of exercises. To effectively train your chest muscles, incorporate a variety of exercises such as dumbbell presses, dumbbell thrusts, push-ups, and crossovers. This helps develop different parts of the pectoral muscles.
  • Work from different angles. Changing the angle of the bench while performing exercises can direct the load to different parts of the pectoral muscles. For example, an upward angled press emphasizes the upper chest, while a downward angled press emphasizes the lower chest.
  • Correct breathing. It is important to breathe properly while doing exercises. Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift it. This will help maintain stable blood pressure and prevent injury.
  • Regularity of training. The frequency of training the pectoral muscles depends on the goals and training schedule. Usually two to three times a week is enough to develop the pectoral muscles and keep them in good tone.
  • Combination with other muscle groups. Chest exercises can be included in different training regimens. For example, barbell presses and dumbbell presses can also target the deltoids and triceps, so they can be part of an upper body workout.

Chest exercises in the gym

1. Dumbbell bench press

3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

This is an effective exercise that develops the pectoral muscles, provides good isolation, develops quality stabilization and allows you to vary the intensity of the workout thanks to different weights.

  1. Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on the edge of a bench with the dumbbells on your knees and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your core and lean back. Push your feet lightly off the floor to set the dumbbells in motion as you lie down on the bench, and straighten your arms to stabilize the dumbbells above you.
  3. Engage your middle and lower trapezius muscles (pull your shoulder blades together and point them toward your pelvis).
  4. Inhale and lower the dumbbells to your chest. Keep your elbows under your wrists.
  5. Once your shoulders are parallel to the floor or just below, reverse the movement, pressing the dumbbells up and slightly inward.

2. Dumbbell Pullover

2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

The dumbbell pullover is ideal for stretching and strengthening the pectoral muscles, improving shoulder flexibility, and even helping improve breathing mechanics.

  1. Lie on your back on a horizontal bench and hold a dumbbell in your hands above your head.
  2. Slowly lift the dumbbell above you and lower it behind your head, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  3. Return the dumbbell to its original position, bringing it to the level of your stomach.
  4. Focus on feeling the stretch and contraction of your pectoral muscles as you perform the exercise.

3. Information on the chest in the crossover

3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

The pectoral crossover exercise provides continuous resistance, allows for a greater range of motion, and varies the angle and height of the pulleys, making it effective for developing the pectoral muscles and adding variety to your training program.

  1. Start by setting up the crossover. Place the blocks at the desired height to perform the chest exercise. Typically the blocks are located at chest level or below.
  2. Stand between the blocks with your back facing the crossover. Make sure the cable and handles are at the same height.
  3. Take One handle in each hand, place your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly for stability. Stretch your arms to the sides. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  4. Start the exercise by bringing your hands together in front of you. Don’t change the angle of your elbows. The goal is to squeeze the pectoral muscles.
  5. Pause at the final point of contraction for a second to feel the tension in your chest.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position, spreading your arms to the sides.

4. Incline Dumbbell Press

3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

This type of exercise focuses on the upper pecs and also works the anterior deltoids and triceps. Using dumbbells rather than barbells avoids unnecessary stress on your forearms. In addition, the incline bench allows for targeted development of the upper chest, which is important for balanced development of the pectoral muscles.

  1. Start by setting the incline bench at an angle of about 30-45 degrees. This angle provides emphasis on the upper part of the pectoral muscles.
  2. Sit on a bench and pick up dumbbells of a suitable weight. Raise them to your shoulders. Elbows bent, palms facing forward.
  3. Lie on the bench with your back so that your head, shoulders and back are completely adjacent to the surface. The feet should rest firmly on the floor. This is the original position.
  4. Start lifting the dumbbells up, as if squeezing them up until your arms are fully extended. As you lift, focus on contracting your pectoral muscles.
  5. At the top of the movement, pause for a second, feeling the tension in your chest.
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders, controlling the movement.

5. Dips with emphasis on the pectoral muscles

2-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Dips are effective for developing strength and mass in the pectoral muscles, as well as the triceps and anterior deltoids. If necessary, you can use additional weights.

  1. Stand between the bars and grab…