Top Chest Exercises (For Huge Muscle & Strength Gains)

Do you want to know what the top chest exercises are for building strong and muscular pecs?  If you answered yes to this question, then keep reading on to find out exactly what exercises you should be including in your program.

The 4 Top Chest Exercises You Should Be Doing

In this article, you will find a list of the top chest exercises for promoting muscle growth and strength.  Each exercise will show the primary and secondary muscles working, plus a detailed explanation of how the exercise should be performed in order to move the weight in the most efficient way to increase muscular contraction and force for maximum growth and strength.


Bench Press

If you had to choose just one chest exercise to perform for the rest of your life, then this would be it.  By far the best exercises diagram of a man doing a flat bench pressfor achieving maximum overload and muscle fibre stimulation.

Primary muscles involved

Upper, mid and lower pectorals

Secondary muscles involved

Triceps, front deltoids, traps, upper back and lower back

Most efficient technique 

Before you even consider moving the bar you need to position your body correctly.  Let’s start with your feet.  Both feet should be planted flat on the floor.  Do not come up onto your toes, as by doing this you will lose a lot of power.  Your feet should be pushing hard against the floor.

Next, you want to squeeze your shoulder blades back onto the bench, and suck your belly button in towards your spine.  This will create and a natural arch in your lower back and a strong core and base for your extremities to work from.

Finally position your hands on the bar and grip tightly.  You will know you have your hands in the correct place as when lowering the bar and your upper arms come in line with your shoulders, you should have a 90-degree angle at your elbows.  Play around with your grip position on the bar during your warm-up sets until you have it correct.

Now remove the bar from the rack and lower at a moderate speed (usually half the speed of the pushing phase).  If this is to slow you will waste energy and fatigue the muscles quickly, therefore reducing the number of reps you will be able to get, and if to fast you will have to really hit the breaks at the bottom of the movement which will also really fatigue the muscles.

Here comes the most important part.  Once the bar has been lowered right down into your chest (slightly touching the chest) you then want to explode straight up with as much force as possible.  Do not try and make the up phase slow and controlled,  This will really reduce the amount of weight you can put through the muscle, which then reduces the overload.

Do not lock out your elbows at the top.  Always have a slight bend to keep the chest in a constantly contracted state.


Flat Dumbbell Press

These are such an effective exercise.  If you have lifted weights before you will know that you can not lift the same amount of diagram of a man doing a flat dumbbell pressweight using dumbbells as you can using a barbell on a bench.  A lot of this comes down to the trouble people have actually getting the dumbbells into place, but also the increased stabilisation required.  However, that said the range of movement you can get using dumbbells makes this a really effective exercise.

Primary muscles involved

Upper, mid and lower pectorals

Secondary muscles involved

Triceps, front deltoids, traps, upper back and lower back

Most efficient technique 

As stated earlier the hardest part about dumbbells is getting them into the starting position when training without a partner.  If you head over to the video section of my site, I have created a video demonstrating how with a little bit of practice this can be done with ease.

The first thing you need to do is deadlift the dumbbells up and then as you start to sit down on the bench, bring the dumbbells down so they are resting on your thighs.

Next, you will want to rock back quite fast into a lying position, and as you do flick one knee up forcing the dumbbell into the correct starting position.  This should be quickly followed by flicking your other leg up, forcing the second dumbbell into place.

Quickly get your feet, shoulders and back and stomach into the correct positions as described for the barbell bench press.

Unlike the barbell bench press, you will be starting from the low part of the movement.  As soon as the two dumbbells are in place, you must as quickly and with as much force as possible drive them up.  If you hold them in the stretched position at the bottom for too long, your muscles will very quickly fatigue.

Lower and lift in exactly the same way as described for the barbell bench press.


Incline Barbell Bench Pressdiagram of a man doing an incline barbell press

The best and most effective upper chest movement you can do.  Like the flat barbell bench press, the incline version will once again allow you to put a lot of weight through the targeted muscle creating maximum overload.

Primary muscles involved

Upper pectorals

Secondary muscles involved

mid and lower pectorals, triceps, front deltoids, traps and upper back

Most efficient technique

Use an identical technique as the flat bench press.  Again the most important part is to lift the weight with maximum and power and force.


Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Just like the flat dumbbell press, you can get a really good stretch at the bottom of the movement, which makes this a really effective diagram of a man doing an incline dumbbell pressupper chest exercise.

Primary muscles involved

Upper pectorals

Secondary muscles involved

mid and lower pectorals, triceps, front deltoids, traps and upper back

Most efficient technique

Set the bench to roughly 35 to 45 degrees.  Get the weights into the start position in exactly the same way as described for the flat dumbbell press.  Remember to drive the weights up to the top as quickly as possible to stop your muscles fatiguing too quickly.

This movement can be done by either keeping your palms facing forwards or rotating your palms to face inwards when lowering the weight.  The advantage of doing this is an even further increased range of movement.


Top Chest Exercises Key Takeaways

Here you have by far the 4 top chest exercises there are.  Now don’t get me wrong, if you want to chuck in a machine press every now and then to your program for a set number of weeks, then go for.

You can generally put a lot of weight on machine compare to free weights, however, the main disadvantage is your stabilisers not having to work as hard, due to the fixed machine providing the stability for you.

In the long term doing the 4 free weight exercises listed above will give you much more strength and muscle growth.

If you get that sudden urge to chuck a pec flye into the mix, just stop for a second and ask yourself why, and remember everything you have read and learnt so far.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions then I would be more then happy to answer.


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the best chest exercises for huge gains in muscle and strength

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