Chest day is one of my favorite workouts. A well defined chest represents masculinity, power, and fitness. Not to mention when a guy peels off his shirt, everyone’s checking out his chest (and then maybe abs haha). I love big chests on guys but I have always struggled with building my own chest. So I went on a search to find the Best Chest Exercises to make sure I was getting the most out of my gym time.
I discovered a university study, sposored by ACE (American Council on Exercise) that measured which chest exercises were the most effective. The researchers put 9 different chest exercises to the test and measured which of them best activated the pecs. Your chest is composed of two major muscle groups, the Pectoralis Major which is the beefier top muscle (the one you see) and the Pectoralis Minor which is a smaller muscle under the major. In the study they recorded the RPE (rating of perceived exertion) and EMG (electromyography) for each of 8 different exercises and compared that to the standard barbell bench press.
The Barbell Bench Press is considered one of the best chest exercises – so that was used to compare these 8 exercises against:
Chest Press Machine
Incline Dumbbell Flys
Pec Dec Machine
Bent Forward Cable Crossovers
Suspended Push Ups
Standard Push Ups
Exercise Ball Push Ups
Which of these were the Best Chest Exercises?
Drum roll please…
1. Standard Barbell Bench Press – This is probably the most common chest exercise, and apparently for good reason! It’s also one of my favorite “go to” chest exercises.
2. Pec Deck - Yes machines can help you build muscle! The pec deck or fly machine came in number 2. It turns out this activated the chest muscles more than doing flys with dumbbells.
3. Bent Forward Cable Crossovers - These are a little more advanced because you have to be careful not to overextend or you could hurt your shoulders. Basically you’re grabbing the handle of the cable machine in each hand and as you lean forward you bring your hands toward the center. Imagine you’re trying to hug a big tree if you need a visual.
So there you have it! Obviously mixing it up is key with any workout, but if you’re looking for the best chest exercises to do to get the biggest bang for your buck, you can start with these!
Go Get Em!