Hello and welcome to the beginners’ series and this article will focus on the best chest workouts. You will find the best exercise moves you need to use and the reasons why you are doing them in this exercise program.
The first thing you need to concentrate on is how to perform the move and how you will add more weight as you perfect the moves. Don’t be THAT GUY that wants to show off picking the heaviest dumbbells or adding one too many plates at the bench press.
Every single time this approach will backfire and you will get hurt. Part of having success and seeimg the progress is to be patient and be disciplined.
If for some reason you can’t join a gym, check out my article on working out at home with no equipment
The chest Anatomy
The first thing you need to know is what muscles form the chest. When you know this, the exercise will make sense because you know the proper area that is being targeted by the move.
The Pectoralis Major forms the bigger part of the chest and it starts at your clavicle, ribs, and the sternum. It is a fan-shaped muscle and it helps you move your arms inward and also activates your shoulders and triceps.
The pectoralis minor is located underneath the pectorials major. You will see that is attached to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rib and it reaches to the scapula or shoulder blade.
The serratus anterior helps you move your scapula forward and upward. This area of the chest is truly not part of the anatomy, but it is very important because it attaches to the pectoral area near the ribs.
The Bench Press
The king of all exercises, the bench press, is the best overall exercise for upper body strength. Not only is it a chest exercise, but you will trigger your triceps, shoulders, and back when done correctly.
When you try to lift more weight than you can handle because you are trying to show off, or feel bad because you can’t lift heavy, more times than not you will get hurt. This will set you back in your gains.
I would suggest before even adding any plates to the barbell, that do it with just the barbell for a couple weeks until you feel comfortable with it. The first thing you need to do is wrap your hands around the bar and grip it hard, using a narrow grip to avoid putting a lot of stress on your shoulders. This will depend on how long your arms are.
The second thing you need to do is make sure you are centered on the bench and plant your feet on the floor. Your feet need to be under your knees so you can engage your glutes when you are lifting. Now take a deep breath and unrack with authority and hold the bar above you. Slowly bring the bar down until it touches your chest, your arms should be parallel with the ground. When the bar touches your chest, push upward with authority and engage your core and tighten your chest.
Repeat the move at least 10 times with no extra weight. You should feel your chest muscles tighten. If your chest muscles tighten during the move then you have engaged the proper muscles for this move. If your chest muscles remain relaxed, repeat the move again and again until you do start to feel your chest engage. Start with 10 LB plates for 3 weeks after doing it with no weights, add 5 Lbs increments every 3 weeks until you are able to lift as heavy as possible.
This moves triggers the pectoralis major.
The Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
You will say, wait you just said the bench press is the king of the exercise for chest, why are you telling me to use dumbbells? The reason being is that if you want to target the upper chest muscles as a beginner, I believe this is the best exercise to jump to right after you do the bench press. A full range of motion at the bottom of the move will target the upper chest muscles giving it a very good stretch.
The incline bench press is usually the go to exercise right after the bench press, and finishing with the decline bench press if they are available in your gym is the routine everyone does. Let’s change this and make sure by the end of your workout you can feel your chest on fire.
Take a bench and set it up on the incline position (around 30 to 45 degrees). Then grab a pair of light dumbbells. Remember, let’s start with weight you are able to handle. Set the dumbbells on your thighs, then push them to a position where they are above you with your arms fully extended and squeeze at the top. grip them hard to keep control for the entire move. Lower the dumbbells until they are level with your chest hold it for a second and push up again.
This exercise triggers the upper chest of the pectoralis major and serratus anterior
Decline Cable Fly
We need to target the lower portion of the chest and to do that you will locate the cable machine. Once in position, set up the pulleys on the high position and grab the handles. Take 2 steps forward keeping one foot in front of the other. Lean forward slightly, bring the cables forward, and once you have both of them in from of you do a cross over and hold the position for a second.
Bring the cables back to the starting position but don’t let your arms get to far behind you. They have to be in line with the sides of your body to avoid putting extra stress on your shoulders. Every time you bring your hands in front of you, change the hand that will be on the top at the cross over and squeeze.
For beginners I like this variation because it gives you 3 different exercises that trigger the chest, but you don’t have to do all barbell exercises. Usually with the cable and dumbbell combination exercises you should be able to add a bit more weight than doing all barbell exercises. The reason for that is that you have a free-range of motion with the dumbbells, and cables help you stretch the fibers a little more than you do with only barbell exercises where you are only pushing up and down.
Triggers the pectoralis major and minor.
Dumbell straight push
One last exercise to round up this routine is one i like to do a lot and is the straight dumbell push. You can perform this by sitting on a bench or standing up. The more classic exercise is the pec deck fly, but we already use the cable machine so we can move to a single dumbbell exercise.
You not only don’t need to go with a heavy dumbell, but you really shouldn’t go with a heavy dumbell for this exercise. The key is to engage the chest and squeeze when your arms are fully extended. Now you can grab a dumbbell and with both hands grip it in front of your chest. Extend your arms forward until your arms are fully extend, then squeeze and hold the position for a second and bring it back. One thing you will notice when your arms are extended is how your chest contracts and that middle line is visible.
You are triggering the pectoralis major.
Now that you know the moves for a chest exercise for beginners go take action and implement it. I promise if you do this right you will see the difference, don’t cheat yourself of the real gains. Keep your eye out for more articles that can help you reach your goals with NO BS, it works only if you put in the effort.
- Bench press no weights. 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps
- Dumbbell incline bench press . 3 sets of 12 light weights 20 pound to 25 pound dumbbells
- Decline cable fly. 4 sets of 12 light weight.
- Dumbbell Straight Push. 3 sets of 15 use 15 pound dumbbell.
Week 2 add to your bench press a 10 pound plate on each side and perform the same workout as above and stay with the same weight for the rest of the exercises.
Week 3 keep the same as week 2 but this time use a 30 pound dumbbell to your incline press and move the pin to the next level depending on how much you can handle.
Week 4 How comfortable are you with the barbell press? add another 10 pound plate on each side if you think you can. TIP: if it makes you more comfortable have someone spot you. The exercise are performed to trigger the muscles and should be the only thing you should worry about. Feel the burn. Strength and added weight will follow.
Try this for the first couple of months and add 5 pounds every 2 weeks. Let me know if you like the article and if it helped you get started. Please let me know of other topics you want to me touch on.