Before I begin on specific chest exercises for men, let me just make it clear that the best exercise you can do for your chest is cardio. Exercising the muscles of the chest directly by doing pushups, bench presses etc does not burn much fat in the area.
The best way to burn fat anywhere in the body is to do cardio (and watch your diet of course). So to get a well-defined chest with little or no overlying fat, go and hit the treadmill, go swimming, cycling or jogging. That said, let’s get started on the best chest exercises for men…
The 2 Best Chest Exercises For Men
Dips are the upper-body equivalent of the squat. It’s common knowledge that the single most metabolically stimulating weight-training exercise is the squat. For the upper body, it’s the dip.
Vince Gironda, also known as the ‘Iron Guru’, who trained some of the most successful bodybuilders of all time – the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jake Steinfeld, Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”), and Frank Zane, was a huge proponent of the chest-dip exercise. In fact, he replaced all of the bench presses in his gym with dipping stations.
Dips rely heavily on stabilizer muscles, and work out your entire upper body, including the chest, back, arms and shoulders. The vast number of muscles involved results in a greater release of testosterone and growth hormone, which serve to stimulate more muscle growth than if you were to exercise just the chest using the bench press or worse, dumbbell flys.
In this exercise, due to the way you make a downward motion with your arms, a lot of stress is placed on the outer portion of the pectoralis major muscle (the largest muscle in the chest), which helps to give you that wide, unstoppable look. By leaning forward during the exercise, you effectively target the entire chest.
Yes, pushups are far superior to bench presses for a number of reasons.
- The pushup is a whole-body exercise where you move your entire body with every rep. The bench press is a very isolated exercise that involves only your chest and arms. With the pushup, as well as using your chest and arms, you have to maintain your posture throughout each movement using your leg muscles, abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. This whole-body involvement with pushups results in a greater release of growth-stimulating hormones.
- A dumbbell or barbell is a very compact weight. For this reason the bench press places too much strain on the shoulder stabilizers, and can result in shoulder-injuries, especially when you get to lifting those heavier weights. Also, over-relying on stabilizer muscles means that your workout will be limited by the strength of those stabilizers, rather than that of your chest muscles. With pushups however, the weight you are lifting is evenly spread throughout your entire body – a weight that you are helping to stabilize with your legs. For this reason, more focus is placed on the chest muscles, allowing you to not only lift more, but to also avoid injury while doing so.
The one thing people don’t like about pushups and body weight workouts in general, is that it’s difficult to modify the weight. There are however, a number of ways around this.
Firstly, if you find that pushups are too difficult, you can do them while leaning against a wall rather than on the floor, or with your knees on the floor instead of just your feet. If they are too easy, you can do what I do – throw some weights into a backpack, put it on your back with the straps on tight and pump away.
With pushups you can also vary the incline to work different portions of the chest. Elevate your feet on a chair/stool to target the upper chest. Elevate the position of your hands to target the lower chest. You can also do close-grip pushups to target the inner chest, and wide-grip to target the outer chest.
Pushups can be a great exercise for building those chest muscles, but only when done correctly. It isn’t about doing as many pushups as you can in one go, but rather about using a regime that is designed to build muscle. Although there are many variants on the number of sets and repetitions that are best for muscle growth, you can never go wrong with the classic 3 sets of 8 repetitions, with a 60-90 sec rest in between each set. If you find this too easy, then increase the weight.
Conclusion & Further Tips…
There you have it, the two best chest exercises for men. Chest dips and pushups, when done correctly, win hands-down when it comes to building muscle in the chest area.
I advise you to use both exercises. Although chest dips stimulate the entire chest, the nature of the movement causes more stimulation of the lower chest than the upper. In order to even things out so you can get more square stone-slab-like pecs, it helps to combine chest dips with decline pushups, where you have your feet elevated to target your upper chest.
Don’t work out your chest every day. At most, work out your chest every other day, but as your muscles grow larger they will take longer to recover and grow. Over time, in order to see further gains, it will be important for you to take longer rest-periods, going from every other day, to 3 days per week, to 2 days per week, and finally as an advanced bodybuilder (if that’s what your goal is), just once per week.
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