5 Best Chest Exercise Variations for Awesome Pecs
Chest and biceps. The two body parts that guys never miss a workout for and to be honest, they are pretty tough to develop as well. The reason being the small and stubborn muscle group in these areas, especially the biceps that takes too much time to develop.
On the other hand, pecs are large and strong, however, they start from absolutely nothing. Like many others, you probably have the concept that building your chest is based on the bench press, more bench press, and more bench presses. I’m not saying they don’t work or add anything to your chest but for rapid and strong growth, adding some variations to your workout can make a lot of difference.
So, if you want to develop a full, strong and big chest with awesome pecs, here are the 5 best chest workout variations you must try at the gym.
1. Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
When you perform the flat dumbbell bench press, each side of your body works individually, which engages more muscles. Moreover, you’ll be much focused on the balance and angle as dumbbells are pretty tough to handle compared to a barbell. You should use heavier weights with lower rep ranges.
How to Perform:
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, lighter than what you press on barbell presses.
- Lie down on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended over your chest at shoulder width.
- Next, rotate the dumbbells so that the palms of your hands face each other. This will be your starting position.
- Finally, lower the dumbbells just above your chest and your forearms creating a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for a second and push back up. Do not fully extend the arms.
- Depending on the weight you choose, aim for at least 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
2. Smith Machine Decline Press
This workout does include a barbell but still allows you to work on each arm independently — at least to some degree. You’ll have a completely different feel and your pecs will be screaming right after your first set, making it an effective chest workout variation.
How to Perform:
- Grab a decline bench and position it under the Smith machine. Load the barbell with your desired weight.
- Now lie down on the decline bench, with your feet placed firmly on the ground. Grab the barbell wider than shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
- Now, rotate the bar so the hooks are unlocked. Extended your arms fully to lift it up.
- Gradually lower the barbell to your chest but don’t let it touch or bounce off it when you push it back.
- Perform 2 warm-up sets and 1 working set with heavier weights till failure.
3. Incline Dumbbell Press
Easier than the flat bench dumbbell press but extremely effective in strengthening your pecs and giving a ‘full’ look to your chest. It targets your chest muscles at a different angle and develops them more thoroughly.
How to Perform:
- Take an adjustable incline bench and set it at 45-degree angle. Grab two dumbbells of your desired weight.
- Place a dumbbell on each thigh and rest your back on the incline.
- Now lift the dumbbells and extend your arms so that they are positioned above your head with the palms facing each other. Make sure they are shoulder width apart.
- Now lower the weight down till your forearms make a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for a second and then push them back again. Keep your focus and balance throughout the reps.
- Perform 3 sets for a maximum number of reps.
4. Chest Dips
A tough, yet a very effective chest exercise that rapidly develops your pecs and increases your overall strength. They are a great alternative to the decline press.
How to Perform:
- Position yourself in between the parallel bars and hold the body at arm’s length. Keep them locked above the bars.
- Now gradually lower your body so that your torso leans forwards at 30-degrees and elbows slightly flared out. You’ll feel a stretch in your chest at this point. Hold this position for a second.
- Now push your body back to the starting position.
- Go for maximum reps until failure.
5. Incline Bench Cable Fly
You’ve been doing the normal cable flyes for chest. Let’s target the same muscles but at a different angle and technique.
How to perform:
- Firstly, position an incline bench at 45-degrees and place it in between the pulleys.
- Now lower the pulleys to the floor and hook up your desired weight. You can keep it a bit lower as there will be a stretch weight from the pulleys as well.
- Grab each pulley and lie on the incline bench. Bring your hands together at arms-length above your face.
- Slightly bend the elbows, lower the arms in a wide arc and give them a little expanse till you feel a stretch in the chest. Hold this position for a second.
- Retract back to the starting position and go for the second rep.
- Aim for 3 sets of 8-12 reps each.