Bodybuilding Exercise Technique Guide: Chest Exercises

A thick, dense, cut chest is high on the list of most bodybuilders, both professional and amateur. Unfortunately, there is so much bad info out there when it comes to properly working the pecs that chests like I just described are becoming a thing of the past.

The big key to building the chest you need is to select movements that powefully stimulate the pectoral muscle fibers. The first exercise that comes to mind for most lifters when they think of pectoral exercises is the barbell bench press. But the bench press is not a great chest builder unless you happen to have the optimal leverage for it. In addition, most people perform the bench press incorrectly. If you put together bad leverages and bad technique it is no surprise why you feel the bench more in your delts and triceps than in your chest!

Let’s take a look at 3 of my favorite chest building exercises. But keep in mind that if these are done with bad technique you are short-changing your muscle gains and may be setting yourself up for injury. To prevent this from happening make sure to get some technique advice from an expert so that you can build the pecs you want without getting injured.

Cable Crossovers
While different versions of the bench press are all well and good, to really focus on the pecs you need to work on the flying motion. This can be done with many different exercises, but I really prefer cable crossovers here because of the consistent tension the weight stack gives you throughout the complete exercise. The key here is to focus on getting a good stretch at the beginning and continuing to keep tension on the pecs throughout the movement. This is a fantastic ending movement to any chest workout.

Pause Bench Press
I know I just finished saying that the flat bench press is not the best chest builder, however there are particular variations that work the chest rather well, assuming you perform them correctly. The paused bench press is one such variation. By pausing the bar on the chest for 1 to ten seconds before pressing it back up you eliminate the stretch reflex and lose any stored energy you created during the eccentric. This makes pressing the weight back up much more difficult, but it will also force your pecs to generate a huge amount of force in order to press the bar from your chest back to lockout.

45-degree Incline DB Bench Press
One of the typical complaints of bodybuilders is not just their overall chest size, but their upper chest size especially. Incline movements are a great solution to this because they target the upper portion of the pecs, which gives the appearance of a more full chest, without giving you droopy pecs. The use of dumbbells is a good idea here as they allow for a deeper stretch in the bottom of the movement. This deep stretch stimulates a lot of underused muscle fibers in the upper pecs which can cause new muscle growth.

Remember that while these exercises are fantastic for building powerful pecs, they must be done with the right technique in order to get the most from them.