by Curtis Williams
It’s time to head into the gym to work the ever popular pecs. Regardless of how you organize weekly volume – upper/lower, full-body, push/pull, etc. – for maximum impact you’ll want to spread volume to target chest at least twice weekly. While there are numerous effective chest exercises, here are five to consider when targeting various sections of the pectorals. Before you pile on the plates, warm up your rotator cuffs. Doing so will increase performance while minimizing injuries. Let’s lift!
Band Pull Aparts
Straight arms, pronated grip (palms facing down): 10-12 reps
Straight arms, supinate grip (palms facing up): 10-12 reps
Arms at your side, elbows bent at 90-degrees, supinate grip, abduct (i.e stretch band apart): 10-12 reps
Arms at side, elbows bent at 90-degrees, pronated grip, abduct arms: 10-12 reps
Olympic Bar Flat Bench Press: This staple exercise utilizes a full range of motion and is easy to progressively overload. The primary drivers are the pectorals. Triceps and front deltoids are also activated.
4 sets x 6-12 reps – final set performed as a drop-set for extra volume.
Press: Sometimes referred to as Standing Overhead Press, this is a technical and highly beneficial exercise. It’ll target the chest. Yes, chest – particularly the upper area, and shoulders. While keeping chest high to the ceiling, lock knees and tighten abs, quads, and lats. Maintain neutral head position, looking straight ahead the entire time. Take large inhalation to help stabilize your core. Grab bar at shoulder width so that forearms are perpendicular to floor with elbows just in front of the bar. Press overhead, locking out elbows while shrugging traps at the top of the movement.
Incline Dumbbell (Alternative to Press): This is a great way to hit the clavicular head, the upper region of the pec. As the second pressing exercise of the session dumbbells might be easier to manage than a barbell, particularly if training without a spot.
3 sets x 6-12 reps.
Cable Fly: For this movement, cables are preferable to dumbbells because there is constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. Placing the bench 1-notch from flat will help to spare shoulders. An angle up to 45-degrees is effective, especially if targeting the upper region of the pec.
4 sets x 6-12 reps.
Dips: These can be performed assisted, as body-weight, or weighted depending on your ability level. Keep torso rigid and angled slightly forward by hinging at the hips. Keep elbows from flaring out to protect shoulders. Perform as deep as comfortable, usually ideal depth is when triceps are almost parallel to the floor.
3 sets x 10-12 reps
Volume and intensity should be adjusted according to your program and progress. I recommend that beginners use an on-sight trainer from whom to learn proper technique. It’ll cost a few bucks but shave time from progress and likely spare injuries.