The 12 Best Chest Exercises To Add To Your Upper-Body Workouts ASAP

Your posture will thank you.


Leigh Gerson |

When it comes to chest exercises, standard pushups tend to get all the praise — they are pretty freaking good for you — but they aren’t the only way to build strength in this area. I consider the moves here to be the best-of-the-best for your chest because they challenge your upper-body from all angles (after all, your triceps, shoulders, and back also help you perform lots of moves that really fire up your chest) and even offer some core, cardio, and lower-body perks, too.

Something else the best chest exercises do? Help keep your posture nice and proud. They’re also necessary if you want to strengthen your back because these two muscle groups work in tandem to perform all sorts of moves like rows and supermans, for starters.

The secret to a solid chest workout is the mix. You’ll want to select a variety of different types of moves from the list below to get the best results. This could look like a couple of bodyweight exercises, one lying down on the floor, one seated or kneeling, and one that uses resistance from a band or dumbbells. Choose your own adventure!

Time: 20–25 minutes

Equipment: Dumbbells, resistance band, mat

Good for: Chest

Instructions: Choose five to eight moves below. After a quick dynamic warm-up, perform eight to 12 reps of each, rest for 15 seconds, then continue to the next exercise. Once you’ve completed each, rest for one minute, then repeat the entire circuit twice more for a total of three sets.

1. Devil’s Press

Why it rocks: You’ll get the bonus of a full-body burn plus some cardio.

How to: Start standing with feet wider than mat and arms by sides holding a pair of dumbbells. Squat down and place dumbbells on the floor in front of toes. Jump feet back into high plank, then hop them forward outside of hands. In one motion, swing weights back between legs, and as they come forward, squeeze glutes, engage abs, lift torso to stand, and press dumbbells overhead until arms are straight, palms facing each other. Lower weights to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: To make the move low impact, step feet back and forward instead of jumping.

2. Pushup

Why it rocks: This is the ultimate chest exercise and works pretty much the entire rest of your body, too.

How to: Start in a high plank position with hands beneath shoulders. Engage core, keep shoulder blades down back, and bend elbows to lower body in one long line. (Elbows should extend away from sides at 45-degree angles.) When arms make 90-degree angles, press straight back up to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: If you’re not quite ready for a full pushup, perform incline pushups instead or drop knees to the floor.

3. Mountain Climber Pushup

Why it rocks: This move gets your core in on the action and ramps up your heart rate.

How to: Start in a high plank. Perform one pushup. Then, pull right knee toward chest and return to start and quickly do the same with the left. Continue alternating for a count of four total. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep shoulders on top of elbows and wrists during mountain climbers.

4. Pushup Bent-Over Row

Why it rocks: This exercise focuses on both your chest muscles and back muscles.

How to: Start in a quarter squat with feet under hips, torso parallel to floor, arms extended straight toward mat, holding dumbbells with palms facing each other. Place weights on floor in front of feet, then, keeping grip on dumbbells and wrists straight, jump feet back to high plank position and perform a pushup. Quickly reverse the motion to return to start position. Now, with elbows narrow, pull weights toward ribs, and lower them back down. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep shoulder blades back and down throughout entire movement.

5. Glute Bridge With Chest Press

Why it rocks: While the chest press here works those pecs, the bridge gets your core and glutes involved.

How to: Start lying on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms straight over chest holding dumbbells with palms facing forward. Lift hips into air, then bend elbows wide to sides to bring triceps down to touch mat. Re-extend arms. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep core tight to prevent ribs from flaring out and arching back.

6. Seated Arnold Press

Why it rocks: While the Arnold press is typically more shoulder-dominant, this variation puts greater emphasis on the chest.

How to: Start seated with torso leaned slightly back, legs extended, knees bent softly, back of heels on the floor, and arms at sides holding a pair of dumbbells. Bring arms in front of body (elbows bent at 90 degrees and in line with shoulders). Keep this shape while bringing arms wide out to sides and pressing weights a couple centimetres up toward ceiling. Reverse movement to bring elbows back in front of face. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Squeeze chest muscles as you bring elbows together.

7. 1/2 Turkish Get-Up To Pushup

Why it rocks: This movement challenges your pecs, arms, and core.

How to: Lie face up with left leg and arm straight on the floor and angled away from body at 45 degrees. Bend right knee and plant foot flat on mat. Hold dumbbell in right hand by rib cage (elbow bent and close to chest). This is your start position. Press weight straight up to extend arm above chest. Keeping eyes on dumbbell, push into left palm and roll through spine to sit up. Now, lift hips off floor and flip body over into high plank position without letting go of weight. Complete one pushup, then reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps and repeat on the other side. Then, rest for 15 seconds and continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep shoulder blades back and down and core engaged throughout entire movement.

8. Lying Dumbbell Chest Fly

Why it rocks: This fly involves a different movement pattern than other chest exercises like pushups and presses.

How to: Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest elbows on floor at sides angled away from body at 45 degrees. This is your start position. Press back into floor, engage core, exhale, and draw hands together above chest, maintaining slight bend in arms. With control, reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Think about hugging a giant beach ball as you squeeze your hands towards each other.

9. Eccentric Chaturanga Pushup

Why it rocks: Practicing just the eccentric (a.k.a. lowering) phase of this movement can help your nail the full version faster.

How to: Start in a high plank position. Engage core, glutes, and legs (push heels back), exhale, and lower down to floor in one long line in a count of five, keeping elbows tight against sides. When torso reaches floor, press up onto knees, then back into high plank position. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, rest for 15 seconds, then continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: If needed, modify by keeping knees down throughout movement.

10. Single-Arm Deadbug Press

Why it rocks: Single-arm chest exercises are a must for building balanced strength.

How to: Lie on back with legs lifted, knees bent and over hips, shins parallel to the floor. Extend left arm straight up toward ceiling at shoulder level (palm facing inward) and hold a dumbbell in right hand with elbow resting on floor at 45-degree angle from body. This is your start position. Engage core, then extend right arm to straight over chest. Slowly reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps and repeat on the other side. Then, rest for 15 seconds and continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep lower back and both shoulders pressed into the floor throughout entire rep.

11. Half-Kneeling Band Chest Press

Why it rocks: This half-kneeling press challenges your pecs from a new body position.

How to: Attach one end of a resistance band to a low, sturdy surface (like a coffee table leg or heavy weight). Hold other end of the band in left hand and come into a half- kneeling position with right foot forward and both legs bent at 90 degrees. Position left hand in front of left shoulder with elbow reaching out from ribs at a 45-degree angle. This is your start position. Engage glutes and core, then press through left hand to extend left arm out and slightly upwards until fully straight. With control, bend elbow to return to start position. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps and repeat on the other side. Then, rest for 15 seconds and continue on to your next move. (Remember, you’re doing five-to-eight exercises total.)

Pro tip: Keep shoulders stacked over hips and both squared forward. (Don’t let the band pull shoulder of working side back.) Make sure to release hand backward with control.

12. Inner Chest Press

Why it rocks: This chest press variation switches up your grip so you can really focus on squeezing your pecs throughout every rep.

How to: Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other. Press weights up over chest until arms are straight. This is your start position. Keep dumbbells together and lower then to hover a few centimetres above chest. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, then rest for 15 seconds and repeat circuit twice more.

Pro tip: Make sure elbows flare out from sides at 45-degree angles.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

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