Whether it’s your strongest, most rewarding, or the most fun, some of us have a favorite muscle group to lift. One of my personal favorites is chest. To assist in your journey towards a stronger body, I developed a mega list of exercises that can be used to train your chest. If you’re new to strength training, I recommend selecting two of these exercises to use during your first workout. Over time, start incorporating more.
For organizational purposes, the lists are arranged by piece of equipment. The colors correspond to my opinion on level of difficulty.
Green: Great for Beginners
Yellow: Intermediate Zone
Orange: Advanced Movement
If you are a new lifter and are performing advanced movements for the first time, I recommend working with a trainer (or knowledgeable friend) who can help coach you through the lift. Proper form/technique is key for your safety in these movements.
Machines: One benefit to using machines is they help position your body. They provide structure and support during the lift so you can perform the movement safely. As you continue to incorporate the exercise, the lift will begin feeling more natural for your body. Using machines also helps isolate the working muscle or muscle group.
Hammer Strength Machines: As with dumbbells, these machines allow both sides of your body to work independently of each other, helping you develop strength evenly. Lifts can be done by pressing with both arms simultaneously, one at a time, or alternating.
Dual Cable Cross: I have listed these exercises as advanced because they require knowledge of proper positioning as well as the ability to perform the movements with no extra structure. For the exercises listed, there are no pads and no benches. You position the cables at the appropriate height/width, and your body at the correct angle, to work your chest in the desired way. Performing lifts on machines and benches will help prepare you for the dual cable cross.
Dumbbells: I’d like to touch on the single-arm chest press. This can be done by holding two weights above your chest, then pressing one at a time OR by holding one weight while keeping the other hand free. If you choose the latter, I recommend using a lighter weight than normal. Your core will need to engage to help balance your body as you press. Go lighter than you think necessary the first time to get a feel for the added instability before increasing weight if needed.
Barbells: Whenever lifting with free weights (like dumbbells and barbells), it is recommended that you have a spotter. If you typically lift alone, it’s okay to ask another lifter to spot you. As a courtesy, be ready to lift when they come over, and don’t interrupt someone who looks like they’re about to begin a lift of their own. When someone agrees to spot you, it’s a good idea to let them know how you prefer to be spotted. For example: Do you want a lift off? How much assistance do you want on the final repetition? People may have different preferences, so if you have expectations, please communicate them.
Body: I want to draw attention to the dips as well as the flyes with sliders. When doing suspended dips to work the chest, tilt your upper body forward. You can build strength for this move by doing dips on a bench (palms on the bench, fingers forward, feet flat on the ground). Bench dips are more of a triceps-focused lift.
The flyes with sliders are done with your body in a push-up position and your hands on sliders (may also be called gliding discs, etc.). Your fingers should point outward. With a slight bend in the elbows, keeping your core braced, lower your body towards the floor by sliding your hands wide in a fly position. Press against the sliders to move your hands back inward. That is one repetition.
Have you been doing the same chest routine for a while now? Consider surprising your muscles with a new exercise or exercises! Challenge them with something different and force them to respond to the change.
Have fun and happy Tuesday! 🙂
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.
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