Bench exercises target your chest directly. Your chest muscles start at the sides of your rib cage and extend to the arms. This means that most of your chest is actually used as a stabilizer when you exercise.
When you’re looking for the best bench exercises for your chest, you want to make sure you’re targeting all the muscles in your chest. You also want to make sure you’re using a weight that is challenging for you.
Here are the best exercises for your chest:
1. Barbell Bench Press
The bench press is the classic chest exercise. It targets the entire chest muscle, as well as the muscles in the arms. To do the bench press, you need a weight bench and a weight that is challenging for you.
- Sit on the bench and place your feet flat on the ground.
- Hold the weight above your chest with your arms straight.
- Lower the weight to your chest.
- Push the weight back up to the starting position.
The barbell bench press relies on multi-joint movement patterns and can be modified to emphasize the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Best performed with a spotter or using a power rack, this exercise can be performed with dumbbells, but it’s not suggested due to the risk of dropping the weight on yourself. This exercise is generally safe if performed correctly, but it should be carefully monitored by a trained professional.
2. Incline Dumbbell Press
Incline dumbbell press is an effective exercise to train the upper chest muscles. It is a variation of the basic dumbbell press, performed by targeting the upper chest. It enhances strength and improves the overall shape of your chest area.
Here is how you do an incline dumbbell press:
- Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing forwards.
- Position your feet flat on the ground and press the weights upwards.
- Keep your elbows flared out and pause briefly at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
While incline dumbbell press is a great exercise, it must be done with care. Always ensure that your spine remains straight and in a neutral position; don’t allow your upper back to hunch.
3. Decline Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell decline presses are a good exercise to build upper chest muscle, specifically the lower and inner parts of the chest. While these muscles might not be your priority, they are certainly an important group to work on as they play a role in building a balanced physique. A lot of people think that dumbbell decline presses build the upper chest muscles and tend to skip them for that reason. However, by performing them regularly you will see improvements in overall upper chest development as well as in other muscles in your body.
To do decline dumbbell press:
- Lie down on a decline bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward.
- Position your feet flat on the ground and press the dumbbells straight up over your chest.
- Lower the dumbbells slowly to the sides of your chest.
- Pause and then press the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
Decline Dumbbell Press is a great exercise for stimulating and building the chest muscles. The focus of the workout is on both the upper and lower parts of the pec, unlike flat or incline barbell press. It also trains your shoulders, triceps, and other supporting muscles around that area.
4. Dumbbell Bench Fly
The dumbbell bench fly is a great exercise for developing the chest muscles of your upper body. If you’re looking to build your chest muscle as much as possible, this is one movement you don’t want to miss out on. Let’s take a closer look at how to perform the dumbbell bench fly.
- Position yourself on the bench so that your back is flat against the bench and your feet are flat on the ground.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your thighs.
- Bring the dumbbells up to the level of your chest, with your elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells out to the sides, extending your arms until they are parallel to the ground.
- Pause for a moment, then contract your chest muscles to bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The dumbbell bench fly is a movement which has been proven to be effective at building the chest muscles as well as preventing injuries in this region. By using dumbbells, one can modify the resistance and encourage blood flow, leading to better muscle development.
5. Smith Machine Bench Press
The Smith Machine Bench Press is a perfect exercise for those who are new to lifting. The Smith Machine is widely used because it will not move, which means that you’re at much less risk of hurting yourself than with barbell benching.
How to do a smith machine bench press:
- With the smith machine, set the weight at a moderate level. You should be able to do about 8-10 reps.
- Lie on your back on the bench and grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your feet flat on the ground and press the bar straight up.
- Slowly lower the bar to the starting position.
The Smith Machine Bench Press is great for beginners because the bar does not require much in the way of balance. The individual is able to focus entirely on the exercise and can therefore perform it with ease. The only downside to this would be that the machine really has no way of increasing intensity since it’s essentially an uninhibited movement, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The key for completing the bench exercises for chest is to keep good form throughout. If you are doing it correctly, you will not be straining in any way and the movement will feel natural. Focusing on keeping your form will ensure that you are performing the movement correctly, taking out any chance of injury. Once you master the techniques, try to progress from easy moves to more difficult ones with increased resistance.