Chest Exercises - More Strength Exercises for the Chest

1
Incline Chest Press

Paige Waehner

A slight twist on a traditional chest press, the incline chest press is a great way to focus more attention on the upper part of the pecs. When you move to an incline (usually about 30-45 degrees), you target the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, which is a fancy way of saying the 'upper chest.' If you're at an incline, you may not be able to handle as much weight as with a flat press, so keep that in mind if you're adding this move to your upper body routine.

  1. Lie down on an incline bench or on an inclined step (as shown) and begin with the weights in each hand straight up over the chest, palms facing out.
  2. Bend the elbows and lower the arms down until the elbows are just below the chest (arms should look like goal posts).
  3. Press the weights back up without locking the elbows and bring them close together.
  4. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.

Tips

  • Keep the abs contracted throughout the movement to protect your back.
  • Keep the motion slow and controlled and try not to use momentum.

2
Incline Chest Fly

Paige Waehner

Like the incline chest press above, the incline fly is a variation of the more traditional version which is done on a flat bench. By putting the body at an incline, you make this move a bit more challenging, while involving the upper part of the chest.

  1. Lie down on an incline bench or on an inclined step (as shown) and begin with the weights in each hand straight up over the chest, palms facing each other.
  2. With a slight bend in the elbows, lower the arms out to the sides until they're at or just below shoulder level.
  3. Squeeze the chest to pull the arms back, keeping the bend in the elbows. Imagine that you're hugging a tree.
  4. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.

Tips

  • Keep the abs contracted throughout the movement to protect your back.
  • Keep the motion slow and controlled and try not to use momentum.

3
One-Arm Chest Fly

One-Arm Chest Fly
Paige Waehner

Chest flies are an excellent isolation exercise for working the chest, with an emphasis on the outer chest. One way to change this move and add intensity is to do this one arm at a time. By doing this, you'll get more work in the core, which has to engage to stabilize your body and keep good form. You may need to go lighter with this version than you do with traditional flies since you won't have the other arm to balance you out.

  1. Lie down on a bench or step and hold a medium-heavy weight in the right hand.
  2. Extend the arm up, palm facing in, and brace the abs to hold the body steady on the step.
  3. Slowly lower the right arm down toward the floor, keeping the elbow slightly bent.
  4. Lower the arm until it is just level with the step to avoid putting too much stress on the shoulders.
  5. Squeeze the chest to lift the arm back up and repeat for all reps before switching sides.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

4
Staggered Pushups

Paige Waehner

If you're looking for a new twist on traditional pushups, staggered pushups are a great choice for adding intensity and challenge. By staggering your hands, you increase the load on one arm, which challenges your body in a whole new way. This is a more advanced version of pushups, so modify the move as needed to fit your fitness level and goals.

  1. Get into pushup position with the hands slightly wider than the shoulders and resting on the toes (harder) or the knees.
  2. Walk the left hand forward so that your hands are in a staggered position.
  3. Bend the elbows and lower into a pushup, keeping the neck in neutral alignment and lowering down as far as you can.
  4. Push back to start and repeat for 8-16 reps.
  5. For your next set, switch the arms so that the right hand is in front and the left arm is back, completing 8-16 reps.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets.

Tips

  • Keep the abs engaged and the back flat throughout the movement. If you sag in the middle, take the knees to the floor to provide more support for the abs and back.
  • Keep the head and neck in neutral alignment, keeping a straight line from the head to the heels.
  • Adjust your hand position as needed to find what works for you.

5
Incline Pushups

Incline Pushups
Paige Waehner

For another variation on traditional pushups, the incline pushup offers more emphasis on the lower part of the chest. Elevating the upper body can also make traditional pushups a bit easier by taking some of the load off the upper body.

  1. Get into pushup position with the hands on a raised step or platform, slightly wider than the shoulders. Take the legs straight out behind you, resting on the toes.
  2. Make sure the arms are extended directly below the shoulders and bend the elbows, lowering into a pushup, keeping the neck in neutral alignment and lowering until your chest touches (or comes close to) the step.
  3. Push back to start without locking the elbows and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

6
Modified Incline Pushups

Modified Incline Pushups
Paige Waehner

This modified version of incline pushups offers yet another way to vary your pushups. This version is perfect if you need more support before moving on to full pushups. Elevating your upper body and keeping the knees on the floor allow you to build strength and practice your form if you're finding it difficult to do pushups on the floor. Remember to keep the back straight and the neck in neutral alignment throughout the movement, rather than bending at the hips.

  1. Get into pushup position with the knees down and hands on a raised step or platform, slightly wider than the shoulders.
  2. Make sure the arms are extended directly below the shoulders and bend the elbows, lowering into a pushup, keeping the neck in neutral alignment and the back straight.
  3. Lower down until the chest touches (or comes close to) the step.
  4. Push back to start without locking the elbows and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

7
Walking Pushup

Paige Waehner

Add intensity and variety to traditional pushups by adding some movement. In this walking pushup, you walk the hands from one side to another, using a plate or other object to mark your position. This is a great way to engage the core even more and involve some of your stability muscles. You can also try this by all the way around in a circle.

  1. Begin in a pushup position, on the knees and toes, with a paper plate, band or other marker under the left hand.
  2. Perform a pushup, lowering down until the elbows are at 90-degree angles and, as you press back up, walk the left hand to the left and the right hand onto the paper plate.
  3. Perform another pushup, this time walking the hands to the right so that the left hand is once again on the paper plate.
  4. Continue pushups, alternating walking the hands to either side for a total of 10-12 reps (one rep includes walking to the right and left).

8
Pushup with Side Plank

Pushup Plank
Paige Waehner

Yet another way to spice up traditional pushups is to engage the core even more with an added side plank. By doing a pushup and rotating into a side plank, you'll build strength and endurance in the arms and shoulders, since balancing your body weight on one arm is much harder than on two. The rotation fires the obliques and even the legs work harder to keep you stabilized. For a modification, you can try this exercise on your knees as well.

  1. Begin in a pushup position, on the hands and toes (or on the hands and knees, if you're modifying). Make sure the core is braced and the body is in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Bend the elbows and lower into a pushup.
  3. As you push up, rotate to the left, taking the left arm straight up towards the ceiling and rotating the feet into a staggered position (left foot in front and right foot in back).
  4. Hold the side plank for a few seconds, then rotate back to your pushup position.
  5. Do another pushup and, this time, rotate to the right into a side plank, balancing on the left arm.
  6. Continue pushups with alternating side planks for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps (1 rep includes side planks to the right and left).

9
Y Chest Press

Paige Waehner

If you're looking for a new way to work the chest, the y chest press is a variation on traditional chest presses. By taking the weights out into a y-shape rather than straight overhead, you'll challenge the shoulders, arms and chest in a different way.

  1. Lie on a bench and hold medium-heavy weights with elbows bent.
  2. Straighten the arms and press the weights up and out at an angle into a y-shape.
  3. Bring the weights together over the chest, lower back down and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

10
Chest Circle

Paige Waehner

If you're looking for a new way to work the chest, chest circles offer a variation on traditional chest flies, with a focus on the outer part of the chest. By moving the weight in a wide circle over the chest and hips, you'll not only work your chest, but the arms and the core.

  1. Lie on a bench and hold medium-heavy weights over the chest, palms facing out.
  2. Circle the weights around in a wide circle as you rotate the hands.
  3. End the circular movement just over the hips, with the pinkies facing each other while squeezing the chest.
  4. Rotate the hands back as you circle the weights up over the chest so that the thumbs face each other.
  5. Continue the wide circles, alternating the thumbs facing each other and the pinkies facing each other for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Continue Reading