In many fitness studios there’s one day that looks like this: the cardio area is empty, not a single soul is using the leg press and the power racks are left alone. Instead, a lot of members surround the benches in the barbell area like little bees. Why? Because it is Monday, and it is chest day.
But barbells aren’t the only way to get a big chest. If you don’t like stalking the barbell area waiting your turn, dumbbells provide a great alternative. Here are a couple of effective exercises to help you on your quest to get a big chest.
What is the best way to build your chest?
First, however, it might help to learn a little about the muscles you want to pump up. The anatomy of the chest muscles is quite easy to understand. If you know how these muscles work, it is way easier to work out effectively.
The chest consists of two muscle groups: the large (pectoralis major) and the small (pectoralis minor) chest muscle. The pectoralis major muscles are connected to the humerus bones of the arms, near the shoulder joints. They extend on both sides over the front of your upper body to the sternum. The large chest muscles are right under the skin and are the visible part of the chest muscles. The pectoralis minor muscles are located underneath their big brothers.
They’re connected to the ribs as well as to the shoulder blade. The role of the pectoralis major is to manoeuvre the arm upward and forward while the pectoralis minor is responsible for pulling the shoulders forward. When you understand how these two power plants operate in the chest, you will have a much easier time to imagine the movements.
This is important, because you can get more out of a movement by performing it correctly. You’ll notice right away if you do not execute the exercises properly. You will feel it right away; remember then that your chest workout should bring results and isn’t meant for showing off with big weights. Get a big chest first, and show that off instead.
Here are three of my favourite exercises I use for my chest workout:
1. How to do an incline bench press
Much like its big brother with the barbell, the execution of the dumbbell bench press is technically demanding. The difference between a barbell bench press and a dumbbell bench press lies in the fact that the use of dumbbells requires significantly more coordination to perform the exercise correctly and safely.
Increasing the angle of the bench to an inclined position puts more and more emphasis on the shoulder, which is why the angle shouldn’t be too steep. In order to optimally target the upper portion of the chest muscle, which the incline bench press is meant for, an angle of 20 ° to 40 ° is recommended.
At 45° or more chest training will degenerate primarily into shoulder training, which is not the intention here. Keep your upper arms at 45 degrees respective to your body in order to relieve the shoulder joint and to focus on the chest. It is also important that you exploit the full range of motion without overstretching the muscle – which can be dangerous when you’re using serious weights.
2. Decline Bench Press
The decline bench press is, with regard to the chest workout, the counterpart of the incline bench press, as in this case the focus is on the lower portion of the pectoralis major. Keep in mind that you work out the rest of the muscle, too. These exercises place an emphasis on one part of the muscle, but the entire muscle is still used to perform the pressing movement.
Like the flat bench press and the incline bench press , the decline bench press can also be carried out either with dumbbells and with a barbell . Basically, the decline bench is similar to the flat bench and incline bench presses. However, you should initially learn how to do this exercise with lighter weights, because of the unusual position you’re in.
It is especially important that the lowering of the weights must be done in a strictly controlled movement to keep the weights at chest level. This will cause less stress on your shoulders, and you’re arms will be in a good angle to push the weights up again.
3. How to do Dumbbell Flyes
In contrast to the bench press variations, which always involve multiple muscle groups, the so-called dumbbell flyes are an isolation exercise that focuses solely and alone on the chest. Lie down flat on your back on a bench and stretch your arms upward so that the dumbbells are parallel to each other.
Lower your arms slowly to the side until you get a nice stretch in your chest, and then lead them back then slowly upward to the starting position. It is particularly important that you keep your arms slightly bent throughout the movement to protect the shoulder joint. Moreover, it is essential that this exercise is done in a particularly slow, controlled movement and executed without momentum.
This exercise it is not primarily about moving a lot of weight but about the contraction of the muscles – you should focus on the feeling. Furthermore, in the upward phase of motion, move the weights inwards so they’re touching, to achieve a great contraction of muscle towards the sternum. It’ll make the exercise much more effective.
Get a Big Chest: Variation is Key
The nuts and bolts of chest training, in addition to the effectiveness of the chosen exercises, are fun and motivation. Accordingly, it is important to change your routine regularly to not only provide new stimuli, but also for a change, which can be helpful especially if you’ve reached a plateau.
The basic component of the chest workout is, in any case, the implementation of one or two complex pressing exercises into your basic exercise routine in order to fully target your chest muscles and to make your chest training as effectively as possible.