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Building a bigger chest is the main goal of pretty much every man who walks into the weights section of a gym. Some guys train chest two or three times a week because they prioritize it so much, but how many people in your gym actually have a decent chest? Probably less than a handful right? Well the reason for this is that most guys have no idea how to train their chest properly.

In this article we will identify the seven most effective exercises for building an explosive chest workout, and also teach you how to effectively fit them into your training program.

1. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to perform: Lie on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, hold the dumbbells over your chest with your arms almost fully straightened out. Take a deep breath and lower the dumbbells down to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked and close to your body to avoid shoulder pain.

Pause and then drive the dumbbells back upwards keeping your head in contact with the bench and your feet in contact with the floor (a lot of lifters unintentionally raise their head off the bench or raise their feet in the air when they struggle with the lift).

With dumbbells you should be looking to create an arc, so starting with the dumbbells together you bring them apart as you lower them, then when pushing them back up you should try to bring them back together at the top of the movement. This creates a larger range of motion (ROM) than a barbell bench press, and as a result can lead to improved muscle growth.

2. Dips

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to Perform: You will need two evenly spaced parallel bars for this, preferably a dipping station. With an overhand grip hold onto each bar whilst suspended between the two. Push your chest forward slightly so that you are leaning at a 15 degree angle (this places more emphasis on the chest while being upright puts more emphasis on the triceps).

Lower your body down as low as you can and then drive back upwards until your arms are almost fully straightened. If you find the exercise difficult then you can use resistance bands or a counterweight dipping machine (if your gym has one). To make it more difficult you can add a weighted belt or place a dumbbell between your feet.

3. Incline Cable Flyes

Muscles Worked: Pectorals

How to Perform: You will need a cable station and a bench for this, place the bench in the middle of two cable stations with the pulleys placed on the lowest setting (near the floor). Ensure that the bench is at a 45 degree incline, and that when lying on it your chest is in line with the cables. Lie on the bench with a handle in each hand and a slight bend in your arms.

Your arms should be spread out and the handles should feel evenly heavy in each hand, take a deep breath and pull your arms together so that you finish up with both hands almost fully extended and directly above your chest. Breathe out whilst doing this. Pause with both hands above your chest and then pull your arms apart until they return to the starting position.

The incline increases the difficulty slightly, but it also helps make this a more comfortable exercise. This exercise is known as an isolation exercise because it concentrates exclusively on one muscle group – in this case the pectorals (chest).

4. Chest Press

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to Perform: Sit on a chest press machine with your lower back flush against the seat. Make sure that the handles are in line with your chest and that your feet are touching the floor. As with the bench press, keep your head against the headrest throughout the exercise. Take a deep breath and then push the handles forward until your arms are almost fully locked out, pause and then slowly and with immense control, lower the handles back until they are almost touching the stops.

Chest presses get a bad rap among strength and conditioning coaches as they are not as effective as bench pressing. But they are very useful for drop sets, or back off sets due to the ease with which you can change the weights. They are also a lot easier to perform when you are training alone

5. Plyometric Push-Ups

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to Perform: To perform this exercise you need to be comfortable with performing regular push-ups. If you can do that with ease then you can progress to plyometric push-ups. If you can’t then regular push-ups will be fine (you’ll still get excellent results).

To perform a plyometric push-up you must start in the traditional push-up position with hands around shoulder width apart, toes together and a flat back. Lower yourself down to the bottom of the movement and then explosively push yourself up into the air. Your hands should be able to leave the ground temporarily, before catching yourself back into the regular position.

The stronger you are the longer you will be able to hang in the air, some people can actually clap their hands together before landing back in the starting position. This can look really impressive, but it’s not necessary and will not provide any additional benefits (plus there’s always the chance that you’ll run out of hang time and land on your face!).

The benefit of performing plyometric push-ups over regular push-ups is that the explosive movement can produce greater power and strength gains. It also looks insanely cool.

6. Close Grip Bench Press

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to Perform: Use a barbell for this exercise. Lie on a bench press and place your hands on the bar, make sure that your hands are narrower than they would be for a regular barbell bench press, but just by a couple inches or so. Slightly closer than shoulder-width apart is perfect. Bring the bar over your chest and take a deep breath.

Lower the bar down to your chest, ensuring that your elbows are tucked in throughout. As the bar gets closer to your chest, your elbows should be brushing your torso. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then drive the bar back upwards, breathing out as you do.

Close Grip Bench Presses mainly work the triceps, but they also target the inner part of the pectoral muscles. This is a hard part of the chest to reach, so try and incorporate this lift into your sessions.

7. Barbell Incline Bench Press

Muscles Worked: Pectorals, Triceps, Deltoids

How to Perform: Lie back on an incline bench press and put your hands on the bar in a regular or wide grip. Pull the bar over your chest, take a deep breath, and then lower it down to the mid part of your pectorals. Pause at the bottom with elbows flared out and then drive the bar back upwards while breathing out.

Incline barbell bench presses are great for hitting the upper part of the chest, while regular bench presses tend to favor the lower and middle parts of the chest. Adding both to your workout will lead to a better rounded chest.

General Tips for an Explosive Chest

-Try to mix up the rep range for chest exercises, sometimes you can do low reps and heavy weights for exercises such as bench press. But use higher reps at other times, particularly for chest flyes. Don’t be afraid to change this around once in every while.

-Add drop sets to your sessions, particularly with flyes and the chest press (they’re easy to change the weights fast). Drop sets can increase the fatiguing of the muscle fibres which is important for hypertrophy (muscle growth).

-If you’re new to training then don’t have a chest day, try to train full body with chest exercises added into each session. This ensures that you are training the muscle more frequently which will lead to bigger muscle gains.

-When lifting heavy (i.e. bench press) use longer rest periods between sets. Studies have shown that resting up to 3 minutes between sets can lead to increased strength and size gains.

-Make sure that you are getting adequate sleep, as poor sleep can prevent muscles from recovering and growing. Eight hours per night should be your target.


Try out these seven exercises and go through the tips that we provided and you’ll definitely gain some serious chest muscles. Make sure that before trying these exercises yourself, that you watch the video guides, don’t take too much weight and ask someone to assist you while performing them. Enjoy!

About The Author

Demmy James is a fitness buff, strength and conditioning specialist and content contributor with Muscle & Strength. He is constantly looking to inspire and motivate others to achieve their own health and fitness goals through his writings.

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Twitter - @DemmyJames
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