Wednesday, March 22, 2023


8 Chest Exercises for a Strong and Powerful Upper Body

June 21, 20220

The upper body, which includes the chest, shoulders, and arms, is what most people think of when they consider strength and power—and rightfully so. When your upper body muscles are strong and well-developed, you’ll have much more power in your swing when playing tennis or golf and be more effective at throwing a punch in an MMA bout or on the playing field in football or basketball. Here are eight of the best chest exercises to help you build up your upper body strength and power over time.

1) Standard Bench Press

One of my favorite chest exercises is bench press, which works your pectoral muscles from both an isolated and functional perspective. Most people are familiar with conventional barbell bench press (you know, lying on your back on a flat bench as you lift a barbell off your chest), but if you’re looking to mix things up, give these variations a try. Each variation works your pecs differently—and will help keep training fun—so vary them in each workout session to stay engaged. Here are my top four picks: low-to-high cable fly; high-to-low cable fly; dumbbell floor press; Smith machine floor press. And if you really want to kick things up, try using bands instead of weights!

2) Push Up Variations

While it’s tempting to jump straight into weighted versions of push ups, low-to-high cable fly variations can serve as great preparatory exercises. You’ll build strength, mobility, and endurance in your pecs that will make you feel stronger on day one of training with weights. From there, you can progress to low-to-high cable flys (like what you see in #2) before moving on to weighted alternatives.

3) Chest Dips (chest & triceps)

When it comes to developing an impressive chest, exercises like bench presses and flys are high on most people’s list. But if you want big pecs, it’s actually going to be your triceps that steal the show. So turn your attention toward exercises that work your chest through a full range of motion but hit those triceps hard as well. You’ll have to pass on some bench-pressing champions, but in return you’ll be rewarded with more muscle mass across your upper body overall. Our favorites? Low-to-high cable flyes and high-to-low cable flyes.

4) Push Ups on Dip Bars (triceps & shoulders)

The dip bar variation of push ups is just as challenging as regular push ups, but provides additional focus on your triceps. To perform, begin by placing your hands on two dip bars in front of you. Keeping your back straight, lower yourself until your chest touches or almost touches the floor. Pause for one second at that point before pushing yourself back up to starting position. Repeat 15 times to get a great pump in your arms and shoulders.

5) Cable Flye Machine (Chest & Shoulders)

This is an effective chest exercise that targets all three heads of your pectoralis major muscle. Adjust the pulleys to low to high cable fly. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding onto two cable handles attached to either side of a cable machine at about chest height. Use your arms to bring both handles together in front of you by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly release back out to starting position as you exhale, making sure not let hands come too far behind you. Do eight reps per set and three sets total. If you’re looking for more resistance while keeping proper form, hold a dumbbell between both hands instead of using cables (no more than 10 pounds).

6) Butterfly Machine (Chest & Triceps)

High to Low Cable Fly Exercise The butterfly machine is typically used for triceps but, as demonstrated here, it can also be used to target chest. (Doing so requires heavier weight and fewer reps than doing flys with dumbbells). If you don’t have access to one of these machines, you can do high-to-low cable flys with dumbbells instead. This exercise will help develop your chest muscles while working on shoulder stability. For safety reasons, make sure that your elbows point down towards your sides at all times while performing these movements. When starting out: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions using as much weight as possible.

7) Close Grip Bench Press (Chest & Triceps)

A high to low cable fly targets both your chest and triceps, making it ideal for overall upper body development. To perform it, lie on a bench with your feet anchored under leg anchor points and attach an upright row bar to overhead cables. With your hands under your chin, take two steps backward until you feel tension in your pecs. Raise both arms up to 90 degrees or so as you bring them down toward one another without locking out at either end of their range of motion.

8 ) Dumbbell Flyes (Shoulders, Front Delts, Triceps, Lats)

Start in an incline bench position holding dumbbells to your sides, with elbows bent to 90 degrees. Now raise your arms outward in front of you until they are parallel to your torso. Pause at top before lowering back down to starting position. For maximum chest involvement, push your palms towards each other as you raise. Keep elbows slightly bent during exercise, DO NOT lock out (this puts strain on shoulder joints). 3 sets x 10-12 reps