When men think of chest exercises, the first thing that often comes to mind is bench press and push-ups, but there are tons of great ways to add variety.
By working the pecs at varying angles, you will recruit different muscle fibers, and be able to gain strength in the chest muscles, without growing bored with your routine.
This great chest workout for men is simple enough for someone who is just getting back into fitness, but just as effective as many advanced programs to build a strong chest.
The pectoralis major and minor are the main groups that make up the chest muscles. These muscles function to provide upper body strength and to help control arm movements.
Having strong chest muscles allows you to push and lift objects in everyday activities. Since the chest muscles also contribute to arm movements and arm strength, having a strong chest also assists you with any motions that require swinging or moving the arms across the body. Plus, the pecs are a large muscle group.
By increasing muscle size, you will be increasing lean body mass, which will allow you to burn more calories on any given day and give you that alpha look.
Chest Building Workout Routine for Men
Chest openers with a band are the perfect warm up exercise to start your chest workout. Stand with your arms in front of you while holding a resistance band. Inhale and draw your arms out and back.
Feel your chest and shoulders open up as you take in several deep breaths. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Return to the starting position and repeat for 15 reps.
Arm Circles: Raise both arms up to your sides with your palms facing outward. Make small circles forward for 15 reps, then backwards for 15 reps to warm up the chest muscles.
Barbell Bench Press: Okay, I know that I said that there is more to chest day than bench press. However, this is still one of the best chest exercises for men out there.
You should always have a spotter when doing this exercise so that you can reach your max reps without injuring yourself. To start, lie back on a flat bench.
Using a medium width grip, lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked.
Breathe in and begin coming down slowly with the bar until it touches your middle chest. Pause briefly, then push the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out.
Focus on pushing the bar using your chest muscles. Lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position at the top of the motion, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again.
Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Incline Dumbbell Flyes work the uppermost area of your chest muscles, while also working your shoulders and arms to a lesser degree. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie on an incline bench that is set to an angle of about 30 degrees.
Extend your arms above you with a slight bend at the elbows. Now rotate the wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing you.
Inhale and start to slowly lower the arms to the side while keeping the arms extended and while rotating the wrists until the palms of the hand are facing each other.
At the end of the movement the arms will be by your side with the palms facing the ceiling.
Exhale and start to bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position by reversing the motion and rotating the hands so that the palms are facing you again. Repeat for three sets of 8-10 reps.
Chest Dips: For this exercise you will need access to a dip rack or parallel bars. To start, grasp the bars and hold your body up with your arms locked above the bars.
Inhale and, lower yourself slowly with your chest leaning forward about 30 degrees and your elbows flared out slightly until you feel a slight stretch in the chest.
Once you feel the stretch, use your chest to push your body back to the starting position as you exhale. Squeeze your chest at the top of the movement for a second.
Aim for three sets of 8-10 reps.
If you cannot do a dip unassisted at first, you can use a dip assist machine that is available at many gyms. You will rest your knees on the dip machine platform and adjust the weight to assist you in your dip.
The higher the weight you select, the more assistance you will receive and thus the easier the exercise will be. You can also have a spotter hold your legs to assist you until you gain the strength to perform dips on your own.
Cable Flyes: You will need a workout rack with high pulleys to perform this exercise. To start, place the pulleys on a high position (above your head), select the weight to be used, and hold the pulleys in each hand. Stand in the middle of the rack between the pulleys.
Step forward in front of an imaginary straight line between both pulleys while pulling your arms together in front of you. Your torso should have a small forward bend from the waist. Keep a slight bend on your elbows in order to prevent stress at the biceps tendon.
Then extend your arms to the side in a wide arc to return the cables to the starting position, or until you feel a stretch on your chest.
Your arms and torso should remain stationary; the movement should only occur at the shoulder joint.
Pull your arms back in front of you again for your second rep. Complete 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
The Decline Barbell Bench Press is an excellent chest exercise for the lower chest. As with the standard barbell bench press, always have a spotter to assist you. Secure your feet at the end of the decline bench and lay down on the bench.
Using a medium width grip, lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked.
Inhale and bring the bar down slowly until the bar touches your lower chest. Pause for one second, then push the bar back up to the starting position.
Lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again.
Again, aim for three sets of 8-10 reps.
Chest Stretch: Stand tall with your fingers interlocked behind you near your butt. Keep your back straight and shoulder blades together while you push your arms up until you feel the stretch in your pecs. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
Wall Chest Stretch: With the left side of your body facing a wall, place your left palm and forearm on the wall. Slowly turn your body to the right as you feel a stretch in your left chest and shoulder. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the right side.
Chest Exercises for Men, No Equipment Required
The above workout is great if you have access to a gym and equipment.
But life can get busy and you may not always be able to get to a gym or have machines available to use. Not to worry!
There are plenty of chest exercises for men that can be done without equipment to achieve the same benefit of building a strong chest.
Check out these different push up variations that can be done virtually anywhere:
This will work your chest muscles in a similar manner as a standard bench press. Lie face down with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders.
Straighten your back so that your feet and your shoulders create a straight line. Avoid any curvature in the back.
Bend your arms down to a 90 degree angle and bring your chest as close to the floor as possible, then push back up by straightening your arms.
Just like with incline barbell or incline dumbbell bench press, here you will be targeting your upper chest muscles. Stand in front of a bench or countertop, place your hands on it about shoulder-width apart and lean forward at about a 45 degree angle.
Keep your back and legs as straight as you can. Then, slowly and steadily lower your body so that your chest is just a few inches from the surface. Return to the starting position by straightening your arms, and repeat.
Here, like with decline bench press, you will be working your lower chest with decline push ups.
Find a chair or bench that won't slide across the ground and is able to hold your weight. Get into the basic push-up position, but place your feet on the bench rather than on the ground.
Straighten your back so that your feet and your body creates a horizontal line parallel with the floor. Bend your arms and bring your chest as close to the ground as possible, then push back up
Alternating Side to Side Push-Ups
Start in the standard push up position. Move your right hand to the left until your two hands are next to each other. Slide your left hand further left until your hands are shoulder-width apart again.
Perform a push up. Come up and then move your left hand next to your right hand. Move your right hand out to the right so that your hands are shoulder width apart again and perform another push up. Continue alternating side to side.
Studies have shown that focusing on the eccentric, or lowering phase of an exercise, can lead to enhanced gains in muscle growth and strength.
Start in a high push up position with your hands flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart and under your shoulders. Bend your arms as you lower yourself the floor as you count slowly to three. Then push yourself back up for one rep.
This is a great exercise to really isolate the pecs with less assistance from the triceps that you typically get with a standard push up.
Perform a standard push-up but keep your hands farther than shoulder-width apart.
You can gradually increase the distance of your hands as you gain strength. The farther you move your hands out, the more you will be isolating your pectoralis muscles.
Staggered Hand Push-Ups
This will work your chest muscles at different angles and also incorporate your triceps and shoulder to a greater degree. Start in the push-up position with your body straight, supported by your extended arms and your toes.
Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Move your left hand slightly above shoulder height while you shift your right hand back towards your ribs.
Bend your elbows, lowering your torso to the ground. Do not allow your hips or back to bend or curve.
Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend the elbows to return to the starting position. Switch hand positions and repeat.
Commit to a Better You
As you can see, even if you don’t have access to a gym or weights, there are a number of different workouts that target the chest muscles that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
These are also great exercises to keep in mind if you are traveling and don’t have access to a gym, but still want to maintain your workout routine.
This way there is never an excuse for not continuing to build your strength and enhance your fitness no matter where you are.
Building a strong chest is not only great for getting a chiseled upper body.
Strong chest muscles enhance your posture and make everyday activities that involve pushing and lifting easy to carry out.
Plus, you have the benefit of looking great in the process!
By incorporating these chest exercises for men into your weekly workout routine you will continue to achieve your fitness goals and build a strong chest in the process.
Your new friend & health coach,
Holly has a strong interest and passion for health and wellness. She is a board certified physician specializing in internal medicine and nephrology with a bachelor's degree in dietetics.
A NASM certified personal trainer with a performance enhancement specialization, Holly also loves to enjoys long distance running, competing in Ironman triathlons.