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Exercises that define and sculpt your chest help you look your best at the beach or the gym. They can also help you do a variety of daily tasks, like lifting or pushing objects. On top of all that, while you improve your look and strength, you lift your mood, too.
Working out the chest means working out the pectoral muscles, better known as the “pecs.” While the pecs are the largest muscles in the chest, there are actually several smaller muscles that support the pectoral muscles, including the latissimus dorsi muscles (or “lats”) on the sides of the chest and the trapezius muscle around the shoulders.
Here’s a look at some top exercises to build your strength and size while helping support your overall daily movement.
To make sure you work all the chest muscles, include a mix of motions in your chest workout routine:
The number of reps and sets you do depends on your goal:
To increase size, try 1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps for new or intermediate lifters or 3-6 sets of 1-12 reps for seasoned lifters, of a weight that is at the higher end of your 1 rep max. Rest 1-2 minutes with more reps and up to 3 minutes for higher weight, lower rep sets.
To increase strength, try 1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps for new or intermediate lifters or 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps for seasoned lifters, of a weight that is around 60-80 percent of your max, depending on your experience. Rest 1-2 minutes with more reps and up to 3 minutes for higher weight, lower rep sets.
1. Barbell bench press
2. Pec deck
Resist the urge to add extra weight. Doing so could increase your risk of injury. This exercise isn’t for you if you have had a shoulder injury. Here are the steps:
3. Bent forward cable crossover
4. Chest press
5. Inclined dumbbell flies
No equipment at home and no time for gym visits? No problem. The ordinary pushup provides 61 percent chest muscle activation. That’s significantly less than the bench press, but pushups offer convenience and triple the muscle-building benefits: they strengthen your chest, arms, and shoulders.
Get the most from your pushups by paying close attention to your form.