Muscle Sport Magazine

Chest Training For All Levels

Beginner, intermediate or experienced, all of us have basic chest exercises that we need to do. While we can implement variety by using dumbbells or machines instead of a barbell, the bottom line is that there are certain compound movements that quite simply give your pecs the best workout.

Here are the ‘staple four,’ if you will, for chest:


The staple of any weight training program is the flat bench barbell press, but that doesn’t mean that you’re options are nil. Most of the pec tears are caused by this exercise, so that’s another reason to try something different every once in a while. This movement also puts a lot of strain on the shoulders and a closer grip will use the chest muscles more and not the deltoids. Using dumbbells will give you the same movement but you can bring the weights a little deeper at the bottom of each rep. This is obviously something that cannot be done with the bar. Hammer Strength and key/plate machines are good for a complete change of pace and also for extra sets at the end of a routine.

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Using the bar is the basic movement for incline presses, but dumbbells should be used more often. It is a much more fluid method and most users claim to be able to use better form with dumbbells. The Hammer Strength Incline Press gives you a good squeeze at the top.


Using the bar on a decline bench will give you the opportunity to really push up a good amount of weight. A great exercise for building mass at the bottom of the pectoral. Although you may have to go lighter with the dumbbells, the bottom of the rep can be much deeper than compared to the bar. Another popular movement for the bottom of the chest is the pullover, mostly used with a dumbbell lying laterally across a bench. This exercise can really give you a great stretch. The Hammer Strength Decline Press does not allow for a wide range of motion, but is a good change of pace.


Using a moderate weight on a flat bench is the main way to go with these. The two-part movement is to get the deepest stretch you can while keeping your elbows slightly bent and then bring the dumbbells up simultaneously without straightening your arms at the top. A good way to describe this is to make believe that you are hugging a tree. Your elbows should remain slightly bent throughout the entire movement. Mixing it up some, incline flyes can be a very effective exercise. Other good movements are cable crossovers, which can be performed starting at the top or bottom of the adjustable handle stanchions. The bottom will work your lower chest more. Then there’s the pec-dec machine, which should be used with a weight that you can handle by squeezing and holding the pads in the front.

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