Last updated on October 23rd, 2019
What are the best exercises for a bigger chest? Ask 20 different people and you may get slightly different lists, but most lists would have “bench press” up near the top.
However, there are plenty of other good ways to pump-up your pecs and get them to grow.
Dozens, in fact. The six chest building exercises listed below are not ordered in a specific way.
They are all good but, in order to keep with tradition, the bench press is right at the top.
1. Barbell Bench Press
When it comes to exercises for building a bigger chest, the barbell bench press is one of the best.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you won’t find it easy to find anyone willing to argue with that.
Of course, most gyms have bench pressing machines as well and they are good for working the chest. The problem is, they’re only ever going to take you so far.
Once you get strong enough to press the full stack, the only place you’ve got to go is back to the bar.
Bench pressing with a barbell is easier than pressing with dumbbells. Once you’ve got your grip right it’s easy to keep the weight where you want it—over the chest.
All you have to do is focus on the press. With dumbbells, you have the extra worry of trying to keep the press even and stopping your arms falling to the sides.
Of course, when you are ready to remove the barbell bench press from your routine, it could be a good time to think about pressing with dumbbells.
2. Barbell Incline Press
The decline press is just a variation on a theme, but it’s one of the best exercises for getting a bigger chest.
Instead of laying flat on your back while pressing, the bench is inclined.
As with a normal bench press, you lift the bar up at 90 degrees and lower it. However, due to the angle, the weight applies more pressure to the upper pecs.
If you want to pack some extra muscle onto your upper chest, the incline press is a great way to do it.
As with the normal bench press, this exercise can be done with dumbbells.
Most good gyms are also likely to have a special machine. Alternatively, you may be able to adjust the angle of the bench on the gyms normal bench pressing machine.
3. Barbell Decline Press
Again, this is a variation on a theme, but the bench is declined instead of inclined. Although this exercise is possibly not as popular as the incline press, it’s still good.
As far as your workout goes, the main difference is you are targeting the lower portion of your chest. This area is really important if you want your pecs to be well rounded and defined.
Another good thing about the decline press is it takes your shoulders out of the equation more than other types of bench press do.
That makes it easier to isolate the chest muscles and get a great pump. The decline press is also a lot gentler on your lower back.
So, if you’re pressing for a big chest and your back is holding you back, the decline press is a great option.
4. Dumbbell Flies
When you are selecting exercises for building a bigger chest, best not forget about dumbbell flies.
As with the bench press, there are options for doing the flies while inclined and declined.
Most people do them lying flat, but a change of angle every now again can be a good thing. It adds variety to your workout and stops the exercise becoming stale.
Doing dumbbell flies is a good way to hit your pecs and hit them hard. They also help strengthen the delts, biceps, and triceps.
Because your arms act like levers while performing the exercise, you are moving significantly less weight than a bench press requires.
However, if you are doing them right you’ll know. You’ll be able to feel them working.
5. Pec Deck Machine
When you feel like a change from dumbbell flies, using a pec deck is a good alternative. Ask about exercises for a bigger chest and many people will tell you the peck-deck is one of the best.
Although the pec-dec works in a similar way to dumbbell flies, the arms are locked in a slightly bent position. They remain that way throughout the exercise. It’s a lot easier.
All you have to worry about is using your pecs to pull your arms together. And controlling the resistance on the way back, of course. It’s so simple you can’t really go wrong and its possible to get a really good pump going on.
Surprisingly, EMG data reveals the pec-dec hits the pectoralis major and anterior delt in a similar way to a bench press. So you can get a lot of benefit from spending some quality time with a pec-dec machine.
Despite the fact that there are no weights involved, some people say chest dips work better than the bench press. The thing is, you’ve got to focus and do them right. Do them wrong and you’ll be hitting your triceps more than your chest.
When done correctly, dips are a great way to target your outer chest. Apart from helping your chest look bigger, dips can make it look wider.
However, you need to keep your shoulders in place and avoid going too far and locking your elbows on top. It’s important to keep the pressure on.
Do the dips slow, with no swinging or bouncing. It’s not one of the easiest exercises, but if you want a bigger chest it’s one of the best. It’s worth putting the time in and learning to do it right.