There are dozens of exercises you can do on chest workout. But you don’t want to spend your time in the gym trying them all. You just want to know the best exercises for building your upper body, no questions asked. We’ve done the work for you, and created a 1 hour program to build your Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.
These aren’t the hardest exercises. It’s focused on the best-of-the-best mass builders, with a little bit of instruction and explanation to complement each choice.
We have incorporated the use of super-sets and shorter breaks for increased intensity.
You can swap exercises in your current routine for these choices, build your own workout with a few of them, or just try one when your standard workout gets stale. Lets dive in.
We have not included any specific warm up in this program, nor is it included in the time frame of the workout. That being said, we do recommend you to incorporate a 5-10 minute warm up. This could be jump squats, a quick run, jumping rope – pick your favourite.
The barbell bench press is a classic exercise popular among all weight lifting circles. From bodybuilders to powerlifters, the bench press is a staple chest exercise in nearly every workout program.
By performing bench press, you primarily work your pectoralis major (your chest). Other muscles which assist in moving the barbell during a bench press are other muscles of the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
You can generate the most power with barbell lifts, so the standard barbell bench allows you to move the most weight. It’s also an easier lift to control than pressing with heavy dumbbells. The exercise is easy to spot and relatively easy to learn. There are plenty of bench-press programs you can follow to increase your strength. This workout consists of 7 sets, all with shoulder-width grip.
After blasting your pecs with benchpress, getting a deep stretch with a flye movement is the perfect follow up and will really get the blood rushing into the muscles. The most common way to do them is on a flat bench, but you can improvise and use an incline bench, too.
No matter which you prefer, the execution is essentially the same:
- Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease, and sit down on the bench.
- To get into position, lay back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, then press the dumbbells to lockout at the top.
- Slightly retract your shoulder blades, unlock your elbows, and slowly lower the dumbbells laterally while maintaining the angle at your elbow.
- Once the dumbbells reach chest level, reverse the movement by squeezing your pecs together and bringing the dumbbells back to their starting position.
- Without allowing the dumbbells to touch, start the next repetition, and continue until the set is completed.
Tip: The most common mistake made by people doing flyes is to not use a wide enough arc with their arms. If you picture hugging a tree, you’ll have your arms at a good width for optimal results.
Front Plate Raise
The front raise is a great training exercise to isolates shoulder flexion. It primarily works the anterior deltoid with assistance from the biceps, shoulder blades and inner chest.
- While standing straight, hold a barbell plate in both hands at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms should be extended and locked with a slight bend at the elbows. The plate should be down near your waist in front of you as far as you can go.
- Slowly raise the plate as you exhale until it is a little above shoulder level. Hold the contraction for a second. Make sure that you don’t swing the weight or bend at the elbows. Your torso should remain up-right throughout the movement.
- As you inhale, slowly lower the plate back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tip: For variation, use dumbbells, barbells, cables or exercise bands.
Close Grip Pushups with Stands
The use of push-up stands makes the exercise more challenging and allows you to get more out of every rep. The bars increase the range of motion of your push-up and the science behind the subsequent results is simple:
Increasing your range of motion in an exercise makes you stronger and builds muscle faster.
- Place the stands on the floor in the same spot that you put your hands during a push-up.
- Grip the handles and perform a push-up as you normally would. If you can’t do regular push-ups, you can simply drop your knees to the ground and do push-ups from that position. The push-up bars will still help if you are doing push-ups from your knees.
The triceps deserve more of your attention than the biceps if upper arm size is your goal. Performing French press the correct way, will keep constant tension on the long head of the triceps without shifting stress to the shoulder and elbow joint. The exercise can be done either lying down or standing up, but we recommend lying on a flat or inclined bench for best result.
- Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing down) with your hands about 8-12 inches apart.
- Lie down and rest the barbell on your chest, elbows pointing straight down.
- Lift the bar above your head and bend at your elbows slightly to take the tension onto your triceps. Your palms are now facing upward. This is the starting position for the exercise.
- Keeping your elbows fixed and pointing straight up toward the ceiling, slowly lower the bar down behind your head as far as comfortably possible.
- Pause, and then slowly raise the bar back to the starting position.
- Don’t lock your elbows out, and then repeat the movement.
Tips: Finish each set with 6-8 reps of close hand benchpress. Simply use the same bar, same grip and press up, using your elbows, isolating inner pecs.
- For this exercise you will need to place a bench behind your back. Hold on to the bench on its edge with the hands fully extended, separated at shoulder width. The legs will be extended forward, bent at the waist and perpendicular to your torso. This will be your starting position.
- Slowly lower your body as you inhale by bending at the elbows until you lower yourself far enough to where there is an angle slightly smaller than 90 degrees between the upper arm and the forearm.
- Using your triceps to bring your torso up again, lift yourself back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tip: For added intensity, balance a wighted plate on your thighs while performing the exercise.
For more information on dips, read our article on best home exercises.
Download your FREE Chest, Shoulder, Triceps Program here.