Because our chest rests between our arms and above our abdomen, it’s not as intuitive on how to put these muscles to work. It’s not like working out your arms or legs, which can move around freely, making it more obvious when these muscles are actively pushing, extending, and burning from an exercise.
So if you’re wondering how to build stronger, tighter pectoral muscles, we have a few helpful exercises for you.
Chances are, you’re already familiar with at least one or two of them. Let’s get started!
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#1 – Push-Up
A classic move that works wonders for the chest (and triceps, shoulders, and abs) without any equipment is the push-up. Sounds basic, right? You’ll be surprised how many people have been doing this exercise incorrectly since they were in their middle school P.E. class!
Maybe you need to tweak your form, too. Watch Dean Somerset explain how to avoid common push-up mistakes in the video below, and see if you can feel a difference.
#2 – Oil Rigger
The oil rigger is sort of a unique twist on a push-up. When you lower your body, you’ll form a diagonal line with one leg up and chin touching the floor. It’s important that when you lower down, you bend your arms so that your elbows touch each side of your shirt.
It may take a few tries to get the form, but you can do it! This exercise will also work your shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, and middle back.
#3 – Bench Press
The bench press is a common chest workout done at the gym, using a flat bench and a barbell. Posture is super important here! Once you lie down and reach for the barbell, press your shoulder blades as flat against the bench as possible — keeping them flat throughout the exercise.
Pull your abs in, and keep your ribs tight, feet flat on the floor, glutes flexed, and wrists in a straight line. This form helps you use your chest muscles to lift and lower the bar.
#4 – Decline Bench Press
You can also take a bench press to the next level with a decline bench press. The decline bench equipment positions your body at an angle, with your head being the lowest point. The aforementioned bench press technique doesn’t change for this version; only the angle changes. You’ll still keep everything tight with your arms locked with each lift, and you’ll lower the bar back down to your chest.
#5 – Machine Chest Press
The machine chest press uses an obvious piece of equipment: the chest press machine. But if you’re a gym newbie, you may not know how to work it. Once you get settled into the machine, select the amount of weight you prefer. Step on the lever, which will move the handles forward.
Grip these handles (palms down), push them forward to fully extend your arms while flexing your pecs, and pull the handles back before repeating the process.
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