If you’re on a mission to get a bigger and more aesthetic chest, you need to build every section of your pectorals. This page contains 35 chest exercises that hit every fiber including the upper chest, lower chest, inner chest, and outer chest!

This is the most abundant chest exercises page on the internet and we’re about to give you the following:

  1. Dumbbell only chest exercises
  2. Upper chest exercises
  3. Inner chest exercises
  4. Outer chest exercises
  5. Lower chest exercises

One of the most important aspects for the selection of chest exercises, is understanding the chest anatomy and the functions of the pectoral muscles.

In doing so, you will know which exercises to pick, in order to target certain areas of your chest musculature.

Now, though compound pressing movements like the bench press are one of the important parts of a good chest workout, there is much more to it.

Let’s take a look at chest anatomy first and if you want to save the video playlist that contains every chest exercise in this article, see below!

You will also see an individual video of each chest exercise throughout the page.

Chest Anatomy

chest anatomy

Though there are many other small muscles underneath the chest, which have stabilizing functions, we will focus on the most desired one.

That is namely the superficial chest musculature, made up of the pectoralis major, which is made up of two parts, as you can see on the picture above.

Those are the Sternal head of the pectoralis major, and the clavicular head.

Sternal head

This part of the pectoralis major covers the bigger part of your chest and it makes up the lower, outer, mid & inner chest portion.

We can target those areas with a variety of movements, done at a horizontal/decline angle.

However, it is important to understand that this specific muscle has other functions as well.

One of those is namely the abduction, or in simpler words – Movements where your arm crosses the mid-line of your body.

The cable crossovers are a classic example of an exercise that massively activates the portion of the sternal head, closer to the sternum.

Clavicular head

On the other hand, we have the clavicular head, which is located on the upper portion of your chest, right below the collar bone.

If you mainly rely on exercises like flat and decline bench press, as well as dips and traditional crossovers, you won’t really manage to target the upper portion.

That is because, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major gets activated during incline movements, such as the incline bench press, or low to high cable flys/crossovers.

However, it needs to be noted that this part of the chest is synergistically engaged along with the front deltoids.

That is to say that at one point, if the incline angle is too high, you’ll be going more towards an overhead movement, which will focus on the deltoids, rather than the upper pecs.

We will tell you right away- The optimal incline angle, when you want to target the clavicular head, forms at around 45 degrees or slightly higher.

Now, most pushing movements will do the job to exhaust the pec major and its clavicular head.

HOWEVER! There are little tweaks and adjustments you can do in a workout, that will help you achieve better overall development, by targeting every single zone of the chest.

Without further ado, let’s start with the dumbbell only chest exercises workout, done with the balloon method, that focuses on optimizing the 3 muscle growth determinants – Metabolic stress, mechanical tension & muscle damage.

6 Dumbbell only chest exercises

The majority of trainees are used to just utilizing barbells when it comes to training chest.

Though barbells allow us to go really heavy on the exercises, they are not the best when it comes to evening out strength & mass disbalances.

This is exactly why you should consider implementing a number of dumbbell movements, that will allow each side of the body to work separately (unilaterally).

Ultimately, in doing so, we will bring up the weaker side and get back to proper balance.

Let’s have a look at these 6 dumbbell exercises.

#1 – Dumbbell fly to hex press

Sets:  2

Reps: 8-10 on each portion of the exercise (8-10 on flys and 8-10 on the hex press)

Rest times: ~90 seconds between sets

Targets: Inner, mid & lower chest

We always preach activation before overload, so we’ll start with this exercise that alternates between a fly movement & a pressing movement.

This will help activate the fibers used during the more intense movement.

In using it right in the beginning, we’ll grant maximum performance on the heavier movements afterwards.

Execution:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay down on the floor
  2. Keep the dumbbells over your body with the elbows slightly bent & palms facing eachother
  3. Open your arms out slowly, stretching the chest
  4. Close your arms in, flexing the chest
  5. Get the dumbbells together and lower them down to the chest
  6. Once they slightly touch the chest, push up explosively
  7. Contract the pecs and avoid locking out the elbow

#2 – Dumbbell around the worlds

Sets:  2

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension for beginners & advanced trainees respectively

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

Targets: Pec major all around 

If you’ve been stuck to conventional exercises, you are definitely going to diversify things with this one.

This has NOTHING to do with traditional pressing movements, besides maybe the initial position.

On here, we’ll get some really good overall activation of the pectoralis major and we’ll also get some delt work going.

If your shoulder line is lacking (Upper chest, front delts), this exercise is pure perfection.

Execution:

  1. Grab a relatively light pair of dumbbells and lie down on the bench
  2. With the wrists pronated, get the dumbbells together over and behind your forehead
  3. Bring the arms with a circular motion down to your abdomen, supinating the wrist on the way down
  4. Contract the chest at the bottom and repeat the same motion pattern

#3 – Incline isolateral press into slow motion

Sets:  2

Reps: 8-10 on each portion of the movement (16-20 reps total)

Rest times: ~75 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper/inner chest

Now that we’ve done 2 lighter exercises that focus on activation and time under tension, it is time to do some heavier, compound movements.

We know that for many of you, the problem with muscle disbalance still exists.

This is why we picked a dumbbell movement, which allows each arm to work on its own, as opposed to gripping a barbell with both hands.

This exercise has two portions yet again – During the first portion we press with each arm separately, after which we transition to a parallel-grip press with both arms, done very slowly.

Execution:

  1. Set up the bench to an incline angle of 45-degrees (best for upper chest activation).
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down, resting your head back to avoid excessive neck tension
  3. Keep both dumbbells above your chest with elbows slightly bent and a hammer grip (Dumbbells’ side is facing the front)
  4. Let the left arm go down with elbow closer to the body
  5. Push up explosively, contracting the left pec
  6. Let the right arm go down
  7. Push up explosively, contracting the right pec
  8. Alternate between arms on each rep
  9. After doing 8-10 reps on each arm separately, get the dumbbells close together with a full parallel grip
  10. Go down with both arms really slowly on the eccentric portion
  11. Push up explosively, without locking out the elbows

It is recommended to progressively increase the weight on this exercise.

The total number of repetitions is well into the glycogen-using zone, meaning that this exercise will most definitely allow you to achieve bulk muscle growth.

That is simply because the heavy weights used for this relatively high number of repetitions, allow the body to adapt by increasing the muscles’ glycogen storages.

#4 – Incline inner chest press

Sets:  2

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension for beginners and more advanced trainees, respectively

Rest times: ~60 seconds between sets

Targets: Inner part of the upper chest

Now, for this specific exercise you’ll need to take some time and experiment with the weight.

You need to make sure that the weight you’ve chosen will allow you to be near failure right at the end of the given TUT duration (30 or 45 seconds respectively).

The best thing about using TUT instead of a given number of repetitions is the fact that you practically make the muscle work more.

And so, instead of setting your mindset to “I’ll do 8 repetitions and finish the set”, you’re aiming for a given duration of a set, which, rest assured, will get you in the zone.

Execution:

  1. Set up a 45-degree incline bench
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells
  3. Lie down and rest your head back
  4. Get the dumbbells together, above your chest with a parallel grip
  5. Let the dumbbells go down slowly until they touch your chest
  6. Without resting the dumbbells at the bottom, push-up explosively
  7. Avoid locking out the elbow to take out tricep work

#5 – Dumbbell pullover variation

Sets:  2

Reps: 8-10 repetitions on each portion of the movement

Rest times: ~75 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper and inner chest

Now, earlier on we already gave you the dumbbell pullover, however for this specific workout, we’ll do a variation.

With this variation of the pullover, we’ll grant maximum tension on each zone of the chest.

Let’s see how it’s done.

Execution:

  1. Grab a dumbbell and lie down on the flat bench comfortably
  2. Keep the dumbbell above your upper abs (basically lower chest line)
  3. Bend elbows slightly
  4. Let the dumbbell go down and behind your head slowly
  5. Come all the way up to the initial position, above upper abs, contracting the chest powerfully
  6. Do this for the first 8-10 repetitions
  7. For the second part of the set – The next 8-10 reps, do the following
  8. Keep the dumbbell above your upper chest
  9. Let the dumbbell go down slowly down and behind your head
  10. Come up to the initial position, where the dumbbell is over your upper chest
  11. Contract the chest powerfully, again, and repeat the motion pattern for the rest of the set

#6 – Dumbbell bench press

Sets:  3-4

Reps: 6-10

Rest times: ~90 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower, mid & outer chest

Odds are, you generally start your chest workouts with this exercise.

To finish off the dumbbells-only workout, we’ll utilize it as a compound, heavy finisher.

The goal – Going as heavy as possible for 4 sets in the 6-8 rep range.

This range will stimulate both myofibrilar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

The first one, responsible for strength gains and the second one, for bulk-muscle, bodybuilder-like growth.

Execution:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down on the flat bench press
  2. Keep the dumbbells above your chest with elbows slightly bent
  3. Keep head rested and let the dumbbells go down to the outer sides of your lower pecs
  4. Once you feel a good stretch at the bottom, push up explosively
  5. Contract the chest up top without locking out the elbow

6 Upper chest exercises

Having a variety of upper chest exercises to choose from is a must, as this is a commonly lacking body part.

Note that the 6 exercises below are not a whole workout.

Given the nature of each exercise, we have recommended numbers of sets and repetitions.

To prioritize that body part, do include those exercises in the very beginning of the workout.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the exercises.

#1 – 21 Savage Incline dumbbell press

Sets:  3

Reps: 7 full range of motion, 7 partial reps, 7 halfway reps

Rest times: ~60-75 seconds between sets

This exercise is pretty much the same as the squeeze press we gave you in the very beginning of this page.

However, we will use a variation and apply the “Partial repetitions principle”.

In doing so, we’ll grant max constant tension on the pectoralis major and hence, the gains will be way more prominent.

Let’s see exactly how we apply that principle.

Execution:

  1. Set up the incline bench to 45 degrees
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down comfortably
  3. Let the dumbbells go down to your chest
  4. Push up explosively
  5. Do steps 1-4 for the first 7 reps then transition to this:
  6. Let the dumbbells go halfway down, then press all the way up
  7. Do this for another 7 reps, then on the final 7 repetitions, do this:
  8. Let the dumbbells come all the way down to the chest but push just halfway up

In essence, this is like doing the “21” exercise for the biceps, but it’s done in a chest press variation.

Again, by utilizing the partial reps principle, we maximize tension on the chest.

#2 – Flintstone incline chest press

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds TUT for beginners and advanced trainees respectively

Rest times: ~75 seconds between sets

At first glance, this exercise looks like a classic incline press, but it is nothing alike.

We decided to name it the “Flintstone press”, because it will make your upper chest rock hard, pun intended.

Let us walk you through the execution steps on this one.

Execution:

  1. Set up an incline bench on the smith machine
  2. Load the smith machine with a relatively light weight
  3. Lie down and grab the bar at shoulder width
  4. Un-rack the bar and squeeze it in hard
  5. Puff chest up slightly and squeeze the chest as well
  6. Go down REALLY slowly on the negative – About 5-7 seconds, really maintaining that eccentric tension
  7. Push up slowly, again, activating that chest hard

Now, again guys – The weight here doesn’t matter, we’re looking for prominent activation & excruciatingly slow range of motion to grant that eccentric/concentric TUT & healthy micro tears.

#3 – Head butt push-ups

Sets:  3

Reps: 50 total

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

Do you know those exercises that make you look a bit weird in the gym?

Well, in our own experience, those are just the exercises that turn out to be REALLY effective.

This particular one utilizes a different angle, created by raising the hips and tip-toeing a bit.

It tremendously activates the clavicular portion of the pectoralis major and also gives a good deal of tension to the shoulders.

Execution:

  1. Get into a push-up position – Hands placed wider than shoulder width, feet at shoulder width on toes
  2. Take a step in with your toes to let the hips go up a bit
  3. Look down to your chest and go down, trying to touch the ground with your head
  4. Once the head is an inch off of the ground, push up
  5. Note that there is no movement in the hips as they remain static

#4 – DB Floor pullover with squeeze press

Sets:  3

Reps: 10 repetitions on each portion of the exercise (2o reps total per set)

Rest times: ~90 seconds between sets

When you combine an old-school exercise with a couple of tweaks to target the desired area of the musculature, you simply end up with something really effective.

In this case, the classic, old-school exercise is the Dumbbell Pullover and the tweaks are the following:

  1. Doing the exercise on the ground for further stability
  2. Using two dumbbells
  3. Adding a squeeze up top to prominently activate the chest
  4. Add a pressing movement

Let’s see how it’s done

Execution:

  1. Grab both dumbbells and lie down on the ground with your feet together and closer to the butt
  2. Keep the dumbbells together over your body and squeeze them hard
  3. Bend the elbows slightly and let the dumbbells go down and behind your head, slowly
  4. Come back up with the dumbbells, squeezing them hard and activating the chest
  5. Once the arms are above the chest, lower the dumbbells down to the chest with elbows close to the body
  6. Push up explosively, contracting the chest and keeping elbows out of lockout
  7. Repeat the same movement pattern – Pullover into press

This exercise will not only activate the upper chest, but also the inner chest tremendously.

#5 – Standing squeeze press

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

The mechanics of these last couple of exercises are similar, but done with different equipment and under different angles.

This will ensure maximum activation under a variety of angles and therefore, the overall development, if we stick with these exercises, will be better.

Execution:

  1. Grab a big plate, holding it with a neutral grip on both sides (Palms are squeezing the disc)
  2. Hold the plate in front of your chest
  3. Contract the pectoral muscles
  4. Push the plate up at about a 45-degree angle
  5. Keep squeezing the chest and the plate
  6. Let the plate return to its initial position slowly
  7. Squeeze throughout both portions of the movement

#6 – Landmine press

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

This one, as we said, is very similar to exercise #5, but instead of doing it with a plate, we use a barbell.

To best do it, you can utilize a T-bar row setup, as it is the most comfortable one.

Execution:

  1. Setup the bar for the T-Bar row
  2. Stand in front of the bar with feet at shoulder width
  3. Bend over to grab the bar and lift it to chest level, holding the bar with the lower portion of your hands
  4. Keep torso straight and tense the chest
  5. Push up diagonally and focus on squeezing the chest

By squeezing the chest throughout the whole motion, we exclude delt work to a big extent and bring more of the tension to the targeted area.

7 Inner chest exercises

One of the most common reasons for people to have lacking inner chest, is the lack of proper activation.

As we mentioned in the beginning of this page, understanding the anatomy and the functions of the chest musculature, is of prime importance when you want to target the pecs to the best extent possible.

We can’t stress enough on this – By excluding certain functions of the pectoralis major, you’re excluding big portions of it.

One of the key movements specifically for inner chest development, is the aduction, or in other words, bringing tension towards the center of the body (Pressing & fly movements).

Trust us here – Just the conventional chest exercises won’t cut it. You need diversity and a good ratio of activation, tension and overload.

#1 – Close grip DB press

Sets:  2

Reps: 12-15 repetitions, 2-3 sec pause at peak flexion

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

Usually, when it comes to the KING of chest exercises (The barbell bench press) we have a couple acknowledgements:

  1. We want to grip the bar wider if we are looking to target the chest, mainly
  2. Utilizing close grip bench press is done when targeting the chest

However, if we go closer than traditional close grip barbell bench press, and replace the bar with a dumbbell, we get TREMENDOUS inner chest activation.

Of course, the triceps are also doing some work, but if we squeeze and focus our attention solely on the pecs, the difference will be felt.

Execution:

  1. Grab a dumbbell of a relatively heavy weight and lie down on the flat bench
  2. Set yourself up comfortably and keep the head rested back
  3. Hold the dumbbell comfortably with both hands
  4. Keep the dumbbell over your torso
  5. Bend elbows slightly, out of lockout to avoid excessive triceps tension
  6. Lower the dumbbell to your chest slowly
  7. Once the dumbbell touches the chest slightly, pause for a split second, keeping the tension on the chest
  8. Push up with a moderate pace, keeping the pecs squeezed and under tension

Note that the goal here would be to mainly keep the chest under tension, rather than going extra heavy and pumping out repetitions.

#2- Pinch press

Sets:  2

Reps: 30 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

The closer our hands are to the center of our body, the better inner chest activation we get.

This specific exercise is just the same as the squeeze press, which we covered in the previous section

The squeeze press however was done with one goal in mind – Targeting the upper chest.

This time, we are aiming for sternal inner chest activation (Lower Portion of the chest).

Execution:

  1. Grab a disc , squeezing it with the bottom parts of your palms
  2. Bring up the disc in front of your chest with a hammer curl – This is your initial position
  3. While squeezing, press the disc forward, this time, aim for the arms to be parallel to the ground
  4. Hold peak flexion and keep squeezing the chest for half a second
  5. Get back to the initial position slowly
  6. Repeat the motion pattern

Note that you don’t necessarily need to go heavy on the pinch press, as the idea here is activation and not overload.

This is exactly why the pinch press can be used before overload movements, to help prominently activate the chest, or at the end of a workout, to squeeze the last bits of energy out of the pecs.

#3 – Side cable press

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~30-45 seconds between sets

Remember, one of the functions we need to take under considerations, is the adduction. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525991/

This is, as we learned, the function in which the pectorals play a major role – Bringing the arms closer to the center of the body.

The side cable press utilizes this exact motion pattern and helps us target the inner portion of the chest, to a better extent.

Execution:

  1. Set up a bench in the center of a double-cable machine
  2. Lift the backrest up to the last level
  3. Grab the lower pulley handle
  4. Sit down on the bench and rest your head and back comfortably
  5. Bend the elbow slightly, out of lockout
  6. Raise your arm up diagonally in a fly movemen (The arm is at about upper neck level at the top of the movement)
  7. Contract the chest and hold peak flexion for 2 seconds
  8. Go back down in a controlled manner, maintaining eccentric tension on the chest

Note that you can place two fingers on the inner part of the worked side – This technique will allow you to focus your attention on that specific part and feel it working.

#4 – Chest cable scissors (Partial reps)

Sets:  3

Reps: 30 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

Shortening the range of motion is not “Wrong exercise form”, contrary to popular belief.

As a matter of fact, it is one of the stronger tools in your training arsenal, which can help you increase tension upon the worked musculature.

In this case, we’re focusing on the last bits of the adduction movement, to maximize inner chest activation and tension.

Execution:

  1. Grab both lower pulleys and stand in the middle between them
  2. Keep feet stable at about shoulder width
  3. Bend over slightly, keeping the spine straight
  4. Have the palms face each other and keep the arms just outside the legs
  5. Bring the hands in to the center of the body, contracting the chest
  6. Let the left arm go above the right one to further go past the center of the body (Complete adduction)
  7. Return to the initial position and repeat, alternating the position of the hands – Left above right, right above left

Again, we use partial reps – Arms don’t go all the way out. and we’re focusing on constant ten

#5 – Incline cable fly

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

When it comes to the inner chest, it is not just the mid & lower chest portions that have fibers on the inner part.

The clavicular head can also be targeted towards the inner part, which is exactly what we are doing with this specific exercise.

Let’s have a look.

Execution:

  1. Set up an incline bench to a 45-degree angle
  2. Place the bench in the center of the double-pulley machine
  3. Grab both lower pulleys and lie down on the bench comfortably
  4. Keep head rested, feet placed stably and tense the chest
  5. Keep elbows slightly bent and maintain that static position
  6. Close your arms up in a fly motion
  7. Contract the chest powerfully just before the arms touch
  8. Go down slowly on the eccentric portion of the movement, stretching the chest
  9. Repeat

Note that this specific exercise is not designed to go extremely heavy on.

And so, we’re looking for well-felt contraction, proper activation and time under tension.

#6 – Inner chest cable fly

Sets:  3

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

Here’s for another great inner chest exercise that kind of mimics the cable crossover exercise.

Though they are alike, the two exercises are done under different angles of the arm.

And so, the crossover would emphasize more on the outer & lower chest portions, while this specific one would be amazing on the inner chest.

Execution:

  1. Grab both upper pulleys of the double-pulley machine
  2. Stand in the middle and keep torso straight and head looking forward
  3. Bring arms up so that they are parallel to the ground and bend elbows very slightly, out of lockout
  4. Bring arms in to the center line of the body
  5. Cross the right arm over the left one, contracting the pecs
  6. Return on the eccentric portion in a controlled manner
  7. Alternate between arms – Right over left, left over right

#7 – 8 by 8 pec deck machine fly

Sets:  2

Reps: 30-45 seconds time under tension

Rest times: ~45 seconds between sets

For the last inner chest exercise, we’ll do the well-known pec-deck fly, which massively engages the inner chest.

However! We’ll apply a little technique to help us maximize time under tension.

That is namely the “8 by 8” technique, which implies starting off with 8 reps, done with full range of motion, then another 8 with partial range of motion, once we are massively fatigued on the full ROM

Execution:

  1. Set up the pec deck handles at an angle that places them slightly behind the line of the backrest
  2. Sit down comfortably, resting your back and keeping head looking forward
  3. Grab both handles of the machine with elbows slightly bent, out of lockout
  4. Keep that static position of the arms – No flexion or extension in the elbows
  5. Bring the arms in, contracting the chest
  6. Keep peak flexion briefly, then go down slowly, stretching the chest
  7. Use steps 1-6 for the first 8 reps or until you feel fatigued & close to failure, then:
  8. After the last full range of motion repetition, open the arms ever so slightly- just a couple of inches off of the mid-line of the torso
  9. Bring the arms back in, contracting the chest
  10. Maintain those partial repetitions for another 8 reps
  11. After the last rep, go down really slowly on the eccentric

Now that you have a good list of inner chest exercises to pick from and include into your routine, let’s have a look at some lower chest exercises.

5 Lower chest exercises

You see, when it comes to lacking body parts, it’s always on both sides of the coin.

Some guys struggle to develop the upper chest portion, while others just seem to never get that lower chest line.

Now, for whatever reason, the body tends to store fat on there – The lower chest, lower abs & lower back.

This is one of the reasons why people simply lack that lower chest line.

However, we won’t talk about fat loss in this page, as it is specifically dedicated to chest exercises.

Instead, we’ll tackle the other primary reason why people don’t get that lower chest development – The exercise selection.

If you REALLY want to target the lower chest, there is one thing to keep in mind primarily – Having the arms stay in a DOWNWARD angle.

Traditional chest exercises do engage the lower chest but not to the extent required for it to become prominently developed and bulgy.

The downward angle is exactly what we will utilize with some of the following exercises to just squeeze out the lower chest and make it GROW!

TIP!

Use the following tips to structure a good chest workout:

  1. Start each workout with weighted dips (3 sets in the 8-12 rep range)
  2. Standing pushdowns (Mirror rep dropset – 3 sets of 10 reps until failure, then 30% weight reduction and 10 more reps)
  3. Select one of the exercises below and do it for 2 sets of T:30 (30 seconds time under tension)

Let’s have a look at the exercises

#1 – Standing pushdowns

Sets: 2

Reps: 10 reps until failure, drop weight 30% and do another 10 reps until failure (Mirror dropset)

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

For this specific exercise, you will need a machine with a good platform, such as an “Assisted pull-up machine” or an “Assisted dip machine”.

We consider this to be a forgotten exercise, because we’ve literally NEVER seen anyone do it.

And trust us – It demolishes the lower chest.

Execution:

  1. Stand in front of the assisted pull-up machine
  2. Place your arms on the platform, close to one another
  3. Look down to your chest (Activation this way is much better)
  4. Push the platform down, maintaining a downward angle of the arms
  5. Contract the chest at the bottom powerfully and maintain peak flexion for half a second
  6. Return back up in a controlled manner, maintaining eccentric tension on the chest

#2 – Lying push-out press

Sets: 2

Reps: T:30 – 30 seconds time under tension

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

This one is a complete blaster for the pushing muscle groups.

It will highly engage the lower portion of the pectoralis major and also give you some good triceps work, due to the elbow extension.

It’s an exercise you probably have never seen, so do not be afraid to give it a shot!

Execution:

  1. Set up a horizontal bench in front of the double-pulley machine
  2. Grab both upper pulleys and lie down comfortably
  3. Keep arms right above your hips – Initial position
  4. Let the arms go towards your chest with an elbow flexion
  5. Push back down to the initial position, squeezing the chest as much as possible

Note that this is not specifically an exercise to go really heavy on.

Instead, we are looking for peak contraction.

#3 – Standing X press

Sets: 2

Reps: T:30 – 30 seconds time under tension

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

This exercise is much like the cable crossover, with the only exception that we have an elbow extension.

The end result of this added extension? Better lower chest activation & we also get some triceps work in.

Consider this an auxiliary exercise to create more prominent mind-muscle connection and strengthen the pushing groups, while also emphasizing on the lower chest.

Execution:

  1. Grab both upper pulleys and stand in the middle between them
  2. Place feet stably and bend over slightly
  3. Look down to the chest
  4. Keep the hands at upper abdominal level with elbows bent, forming pretty much a straight angle
  5. Push down and cross the left hand over the right one in an X (Just like the crossover)
  6. Alternate between both hands – Left over right, right over left
  7. Repeat the motion pattern

Again, don’t focus on using as big of a weight as possible. Instead, pick a decent weight that will still be a challenge but won’t disrupt proper exercise execution and time under tension.

#4 – Iso High to low cable fly

Sets: 2

Reps: T:30-T:45 – 30-45 seconds time under tension for beginners and advanced trainees, respectively

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

Working a muscle group side by side just helps us focus our attention solely on that specific side of the body.

This allows for better growth but also helps us bring up the weaker side.

Muscle disbalances, both strength and visual are common, which is why we’ll use this specific exercise, to target the lower chest.

Execution:

  1. Grab the upper pulley  with one arm and stand in the center with feet placed at shoulder width
  2. Keep the working hand at upper abdominal level with elbow bent, just like in exercise #3
  3. Place the opposite hand on the working pec – This will help you focus your attention better
  4. Push down and towards the center of your body
  5. Go past the center line just slightly, squeezing the pec prominently
  6. Keep peak flexion briefly and go back up slowly on the eccentric phase
  7. Once done, repeat on the opposite side

#5 – Incline push-ups

Sets: 2

Reps: Time under tension until tension – 30-45 seconds for beginners and advanced trainees, respectively

Rest: ~45 seconds between sets

Contrary to what you’d think of this exercise, it actually targets the lower chest, due to the fact the arms are at a downward angle.

Yes, incline bench press does target the clavicular head, but incline PUSH-UPS, target the lower portion of the pec major.

And vice versa – Decline push-ups would target the upper chest.

Let’s take a look at this exercise.

Execution:

  1. Place your hands on one end of a bench
  2. Keep your feet back, placing them at around shoulder width
  3. Maintain a straight torso position, that allows the arms to be in a downward angle
  4. Look forward and go down slowly, until your chest slightly touches the bench (Don’t rest at the bottom)
  5. Push up explosively, contracting the chest – Avoid elbow lockout here

Note that the closer grip will cause the triceps to get significantly more activated, which is why we recommend avoiding elbow lockout.

3 Outer chest exercises

What’s a good chest without a fine outer chest line?

If you don’t have it, your chest will simply look underdeveloped, especially from the side.

You need to understand that the pectoralis major is a big muscle group and has muscle fibers going in pretty much every direction.

Developing a good outer portion will REALLY make your chest stand out.

This is exactly why we’ve dedicated a section in this directory specifically to that portion of the chest.

Let’s see the exercises.

#1 – Stretch fly 21’s (3 variations)

Sets: 1

Reps: 45 seconds time under tension for all 3 variations

Rest: 15 seconds between variations

This one is much like the iso high to low fly, however, it is done with a static position of the arm and we’re also utilizing the balloon method.

As you should know, metabolic stress is one of the main muscle growth factors and by utilizing the balloon method and time under tension, we optimize that one factor.

Execution:

  1. Grab the upper pulley with one arm and step away from it to the side
  2. Keep arm and wrists straight with just a slight bending in the elbow, out of lockout
  3. Step with feet at shoulder width and keep torso straight
  4. Place opposite hand on the pec to focus your attention on that working group
  5. Close arm down in a fly movement with no elbow movement (High to low) – 1-2 second concentric
  6. Contract the chest at the bottom and pause for 1 second
  7. Go back up on the eccentric slowly (1 second)

After doing this, switch the angle of the pulley to a horizontal one and complete the same movement pattern.

Here, instead of going high to low, we’re going side to side, as the pulley is horizontal.

This mimicks the dumbbell fly motion, but we’re standing, doing it with a cable, unilaterally.

After another 45 seconds TUT, we rest for 15-20 seconds again and drop the cable down to do another, final set of low to high cable flys.

Note that this prolonged time under tension with low rest times will impose you to using REALLY light weights.

Don’t worry though, this is not a compound movement – Instead, we’re focusing on good stretch, contraction and TUT.

#2 – Reverse incline unilateral into slow doubles

Sets: 2

Reps: 2 left, 2 right, 2 with both arms – 4 circuits (24 reps total)

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

This is a cross between a fly motion and a bench press.

What this does is it stretches your chest more prominently on the eccentric portion, as opposed to generic bench pressing movements.

Execution:

  1. Set up a 45-degree incline bench press and grab a pair of dumbbells
  2. Lay down comfortably and keep the dumbbells with a neutral grip (Dumbbells’ bottoms are pointing forward)
  3. Keep the dumbbells above the sides of your chest (Wider than usual)
  4. Go down with the left arm slowly (2 second eccentric)
  5. Pause for 1 second at the bottom
  6. Push up explosively (1 second concentric)
  7. After two reps on the left arm, do the same on the right side
  8. After that, transition into slow doubles – Let both arms go down slowly (3 second eccentric)
  9. Pause for 1 second
  10. Push up in a 2 second concentric

This is sort of like an anabolic dropset, because you’ll be going for a total of 24 reps – 8 uni lateral on one side, 8 on the other side and then 8 slow-mo with both sides together.

Of course, this also implies using a significantly lighter weight, as you want to be able to focus on TUT.

#3 – Wide grip stretch push-ups

Sets: 2

Reps: 45 seconds time under tension

Rest: ~60 seconds between sets

Need more stretch & good contraction? We got you.

This exercise utilizes a wide grip and a good stretch.

It is done off the ground, about 12 to 18 inches up.

This can be done on the feet platform of a dip machine, or anything else you find comfortable.

Execution:

  1. Find a spot where you can place your hands 12-18 inches off of the ground with a wide grip
  2. Get into a push-up position, where the arms are placed wide, torso is straight and feet are close together
  3. Look forward, then go down slowly (2 seconds on the way down), until the chest is at platform level
  4. Pause for a second at the bottom, keeping the tension on the chest
  5. Push up, contracting the chest in a 1 second concentric portion

With this movement, we’re utilizing T:45 (45 seconds time under tension) and we’re pretty much trying to reach failure.

If you still haven’t failed at t:45, feel free to prolong that time.

In case you can’t find a proper spot to elevate your arms, you can do the same exercise but with a decline angle.

The decline angle implies placing feet high and arms on the ground, where the fingers of your hand are almost pointing to the sides, with a wide grip.

4 More Important Chest Exercises For Mass

Here are 3 m0re chest exercises for mass that are compound based and very important. If you want a list of complete chest workouts for mass go to our chest workouts page next.

#1 – Barbell Incline Press

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest times: 90 seconds

Targets: Upper chest

As you should know, free weights are your top priority when the task at hand is creating maximum overload.

For this second overload exercise, we’re utilizing the incline angle and the intensity that a barbell offers.

The incline angle allows for better activation of the clavicular head of the pectoralis major (Upper chest).

Pressing exercises done under this angle must not be neglected, given that we are looking for good overall development.

Note that the optimal upper-chest activation angle forms at 45 degrees or slightly higher.

If you go way higher than that, you’ll activate the shoulders more and it pretty much won’t be a bench press anymore, more so than a shoulder press.

Execution:

  1. Setup the barbell so that the threads in the middle are right at the center of the backrest of the bench
  2. Lie down and grab the bar wider than shoulder width, with the thumb going over the bar (Very important! Avoid using suicide grip)
  3. Un-rack the barbell and bend elbows slightly, out of lockout to avoid excessive tricep activation
  4. Let the bar go down to the upper portion of your chest, slowly
  5. Without resting the bar on your chests, pause for a split second at the bottom
  6. Push up explosively, contracting the chest up top, with no elbow lockout

Note that you can go really heavy on this exercise, as long as you maintain constant tension and proper exercise execution.

We’re aiming for heavy 8-10 repetitions with longer rest times.

Training in this rep range will allow the body to tap into its glycogen reserves, ultimately accounting for better bulk growth.

#2 – Weighted Dips

Sets: 3

Reps: Until failure

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower and outer chest

Most of us started training with just bodyweight – Dips, push-ups, pull-ups and handstands.

At one point, additional weights were needed and we transitioned to bench pressing and machine exercises, totally forgetting about what gave us the foundation.

Well, to take it a step further, we are adding additional weight to the parallel bar dips.

Though overlooked, this exercise is perfect when you want to overload and target the lower and outer chest portions.

Let’s see how we can best do this.

Execution:

  1. Get a comfortable weight belt and attach plates onto the chain
  2. Place the belt comfortably on your waist
  3. Get onto the parallel bar and lift yourself up
  4. Slightly bend elbows out of lockout – This is your initial position
  5. Keep feet together
  6. Go down slowly while looking down
  7. Push up explosively, contracting the chest and avoiding elbow lockout

NOTE: If  you look DOWN on the exercise, anterior chain of muscles (including chest) will contract better due to the position of the neck. On the other hand, if you look UP, that would mean the muscles on the back of the neck (top of posterior chain) will be flexed and therefore, all muscles on the back will contract better.

This is known as “Neck reflexes” and it can help us target desired muscles better, if we utilize it correctly.

#3 – Dumbbell Low To High’s

Sets: 2

Reps: 12

Rest times: 60 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper & inner chest

The dumbbell low to highs are one of the better chest exercises.

This is because it is not particularly designed for heavy overload, more so than a focus on contraction and activation.

It targets the upper chest and front deltoids and can be done both before or after the heavy, compound movements.

Choose a lighter weight and go for maximum contraction here.

Execution:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep them in front of you with palms facing forward
  2. Keep torso straight and feet stable
  3. Keep elbows slightly bent and chest tensed
  4. Lift the dumbbells up, contracting the chest when the arms are parallel to the ground
  5. Bring the dumbbells down slowly, maintaining tension on the chest

Again, this exercise will help you develop a better-looking shoulder line overall.

#4 – Dumbbell Incline Press

Sets:  3

Reps: 8-10

Rest times: ~90 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper chest

To finish this list of  chest exercises off, we’ll give you the classics – A free weight movement which you can feel free to heavily overload on.

Again, we’re focusing on the upper chest and the anterior deltoids, with an incline movement, this time done with each arm independently, using a pair of dumbbells.

With the barbell incline bench press, we might easily experience a more prominent development of the stronger side that takes over.

And this is not the case here, making this the perfect exercise to even out disbalances.

Execution:

  1. Set up a bench to a 45-degree incline angle
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down comfortably
  3. Rest your head to avoid excessive neck tension
  4. Keep the dumbbells over your body with a slightly bent elbow
  5. Let the dumbbells go down slowly on the eccentric portion of the exercise
  6. Once they go slightly below the chest line on the outer side, push up explosively without locking out the elbows

If you liked this page so far, check out our entire exercises section, where we have dedicated pages for each and every muscle group.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525991/