Five of the best chest moves

(Image credit: Unknown)

1. Bench press

The reason the bench press has always been popular is that it’s simply the best exercise for developing upper-body muscular size, power and strength. Although it works mainly the pectoral, or chest, muscles, this exercise also recruits the muscles at the front of the shoulders and the back of the arms, making it ideal for anyone who wants a big, strong torso. Always warm up thoroughly with some press-ups, then using the empty bar.

How to do it:

  • Lie on the bench with your feet on the floor directly underneath your knees.
  • Your head, upper back and glutes should be flat against the bench. Brace your core and maintain a natural arch in your back.
  • Hold the bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lower the bar to your chest, bending your elbows out to the sides, until the bar is almost touching the middle of your chest.
  • Pause briefly before driving your feet hard into the floor and pushing the bar back strongly to the start position.

2. Dumb-bell flye

This move isolates your chest muscles, meaning your arms are taken out of the equation so all of the work has to be done by your ches

How to do it:

  • Lie on a flat bench holding a dumb-bell in each hand directly above your chest, palms facing each other.
  • Make sure your head and shoulders are supported on the bench and that your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, slowly lower the weights out to the side as far as is comfortable.
  • Don’t arch your back.
  • Use your pecs to reverse the movement to raise the weights back to the top.

3. Cable crossover

It’s hard to truly isolate your powerful chest muscles – the arms and shoulders nearly always get in on the act because of how your upper body muscles move together. But this move is a great way to work the chest because using cables, rather than dumb-bells, for resistance ensures that there is constant tension throughout the move, which forces your chest to work hard to control the weight.

How to do it:

  • Stand in the middle of a cable machine with a split stance holding a D-handle attachment in each hand, with the cable set above shoulder height.
  • Keeping a natural arch in your back, your core braced and your upper body still, bring your hands down in an arc to meet in front of your torso.
  • Pause briefly and squeeze your chest muscles before returning slowly, and under full control of the weight, back to the start.

4. Incline dumb-bell press

Tilting the bench places the focus on the upper part of your chest, as well as your triceps and the front of your shoulders, while using dumb-bells allows for a greater range of motion.

How to do it:

  • Lie on a bench set at a 30-45˚ angle, holding a dumb-bell in each hand at shoulder-height.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and back against the bench.
  • Press the weight directly above your head, but don’t lock out your elbows at the top.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down to your chest, flaring your elbows out to the side.

5. Clap press-up

Having to clap between press-ups means you have to push up from the floor very quickly, turning this humble bodyweight exercise into an explosive muscle-building move.

How to do it:

  • Start in a press-up position and lower until your chest is just above the ground, keeping your elbows close to your side.
  • Press back up powerfully so that your hands leave the floor. Quickly clap them together.
  • Land on your hands and descend into the next rep.

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Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.