The chest is one of the biggest areas of the entire body. Both pectorals makes up the vast majority of musculature on the front of the body, and as such their development can absolutely make or break your entire physique.
Having a big, well developed, chest makes you look big and lean while wearing a t-shirt – and absolutely monstrous without one.
Something worth mentioning is that the pectorals are one of the most explosive muscle groups in the entire body, in which they dominate powerful pressing movements.
Subsequently, chest development is actually maximized during these pressing movements. And it is for this same reason so many people leave a huge amount of chest development on the table – because they don’t train it correctly.
So with all this in mind, in the following article we have outlined the best 7 exercises for an explosive chest – allowing you to maximize your chest development quickly and efficiently.
1) Dumbbell Bench Press
When most people think of chest based movements, they automatically jump to the barbell bench press. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this exercise (it offers a great tool to develop upper body strength), it doesn’t develop the pectorals nearly as well as the dumbbell bench press.
The dumbbell bench press allows us to increase our range of motion AND target the pectorals specifically (through a better line of pull) – of which both factors lead to vastly improved chest development and is thus one of the best dumbbell exercises for chest.
The important thing here is to control the eccentric portion of the lift and move the weights up as quickly as possible on the concentric portion.
2) Band Resisted Push Ups
Push Up-soften get a bad rap, in which they are only considered for beginners. This is extremely unfortunate as push ups are a fantastic exercise variation that is both extremely shoulder friendly AND target the muscle of the chest in a very specific manner.
And band resisted push ups build on this.
By adding bands to the push up movement we not only increase the difficulty of the exercise, we also turn them into a movement that we have to perform with a huge amount of muscular power.
This is because as we move further away from the floor, the band resistance becomes greater, forcing us to drive up from the floor in a vigorously manner.
3) Bench Throws
Most people don’t rate the smith machine in the slightest – and for lower body movements I would agree with them for the most part.
BUT they do offer an excellent means to train the muscles of the chest effectively.
This can be done through bench throws.
Bench throws are performed in the smith machine in the same manner as a smith machine bench press, but rather than controlling the movement through the entire range of motion, you press up as quickly as possible and let go of the bar at the end range. You then proceed to catch the bar as it returns down.
Both the explosive pressing motion and the controlled deceleration of the bar during the catching phase absolutely crush the pectorals, enhancing muscle hypertrophy significantly.
Be sure to leave your ego at the door with this one. Catching the bar as it comes down can be injury sensitive, so when you try out this exercise, make sure you can handle the weight perfectly.
4) Incline Dumbbell Press
While we have touched briefly on the benefits of dumbbells in comparison to the barbell during pressing movements, it is also important to know that we can alter the angle of the movement and use different chest workouts to further enhance chest development.
The pectorals can be split into two distinct sections, an upper pectoral and a lower pectoral.
The flat bench press places the most stress on the lower pectoral, while pressing on an incline increases the activation of the upper pectoral.
By including both variations into our training program we can maximize our overall chest development, leading to a large and extremely well-developed chest.
5) Dumbbell Fly
Fly’s are an excellent exercise for pecs that allow us to take the pectorals through a full range of motion – which can contribute greatly to improved muscular development. The trick with these is to take it nice and slow on the eccentric portion of the lift (think 3-5 seconds) and then explode up quickly during the concentric portion.
With these you should strive to feel a solid stretch through the muscles of the chest at the bottom of the movement, and then a really solid squeeze at the top.
By emphasizing the eccentric portion of this list we induce greater muscle damage, which is known to lead to improved muscle hypertrophy. Additionally, by undertaking the concentric portion of the movement rapidly, we can further increase muscle activation (which leads to further muscular development).
6) Medicine Ball Chest Throw
It is important to note that most of the movements on this list sit on the strength side of the strength-power spectrum. This is incredibly important, because to maximize muscle growth we do need to spend a good portion of our time developing strength and its related qualities – this is essential to the growth and development of new muscle tissue.
BUT, spending more time on the power end of the spectrum is a great way to maximize muscle fiber recruitment, which can lead to improved muscle growth and improved movement performance.
And that’s where the medicine ball chest throw comes in.
It is a movement where we explosively push a medicine ball off our chest as quickly as possible (preferably into a solid wall) for sets of 3-5 repetitions.
This movement is a pure demonstration of power that maximizes chest development through an increase in muscle fiber activation – with this in mind these are best performed at the start of your workout as they provide a great way to ‘prime’ your body for upcoming exercise, and improving the effectiveness of all training exercises that come after them.
7) Bar Dips
Bar Dips are an absolutely epic exercise and are one of the greatest compound exercises for chest that are often (and unfortunately) reserved for arm day – when they should in fact be prioritized on chest day.
The trick with these is to lean over the bars, getting your chest as horizontal to the ground as possible. This maximizes the load distributed through the pectorals while reducing the load through the shoulder joint – increasing the effectiveness of the exercise while also reducing the risk of injury significantly.
Really focus on controlling the descent and then squeezing as hard as you can in the top position – this builds strength and power in the top position where the muscles of the chest have the greatest line of pull (further increasing muscle growth and power).
And there you have it.
While the muscles of the chest are rarely neglected per se, they are often trained poorly through the use of inappropriate or ineffective movements. By focusing on movements that maximize the involvement of the pectorals and produce a huge amount of muscle fiber recruitment, we can maximize chest development. Also, don’t forget about the importance of stretching before and after your workout.
With this in mind, the 7 exercises in this article offer a fantastic way to develop the muscles of the chest – give them a shot in your next workout and get one step closer to building the explosive chest we are all after.