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How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest WITHOUT the Bench Press (8 Best Chest Exercises to Look Good)

Optimise your gains in original ways.

Learn how to build a strong and muscular chest without the bench press.

These 8 best chest exercises for hypertrophy have been chosen by Jeff from Athlean X.

How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

“The best chest exercises are not determined by the ones you can lift the most weight on but rather the ones that work best for you.  In this video, I’m going to show you the 8 best chest exercises to help you build a bigger chest despite using bench press and dips for years.  Many people think that these staple chest workout moves must be included if you want to develop a big chest, but the reality is they do not work best for everyone.”

“That said, the eight chest exercises shown here are ones you can try if you feel like you have hit a dead end in your chest development.  Beyond that, these can be done as activators before your chest workout that will help you to get even more out of the bench press and dips later in the routine.  The key is first to understand why these two big exercises may not be working so great for you.”

Killer Chest Exercises Without a Bench Muscular Chest Without the Bench PressSource: Calibra / Pixabay

The Anatomy of the Chest

“It comes down to the anatomy of the chest and how it prefers to contract.  The biggest motion that the pecs are responsible for above all others is horizontal adduction at the shoulder.  This means, taking the upper arm and driving it across the chest.  Ideally, you would want your chest exercises to incorporate the motion so that both arms could almost cross over each other or at least the midline of your body if you want to get a maximal chest contraction.”

Twisting Push Up

“We can do that with the first exercise shown, the twisting pushup.  Here, no equipment at all is needed to help you get more from your pushups.  Instead of just pushing straight up and down you can twist your body as you do and get a relative adduction at the shoulder which will help you get a better squeeze and contraction.  Since your hands will be fixed on the ground as they are in a regular pushup, the twisting of the body will draw the arm across and help you get better results from doing this.”

Plate Squeeze

“The plate squeeze is an awesome chest exercise that can be used as an activator before your chest workout or at the end as a finisher.  The key is to squeeze the plates as hard as possible together and not let them slide apart.  The chest contraction you feel here will be insane and well worth the inclusion of this move in your chest workout.”

Dumbbell Chest Pullover

“The Db chest pullover is a variation of the classic dumbbell pullover, except this one will target the upper pecs as opposed to the lats.  Instead of flaring the elbows and trying to pull the weight all the way up over your chest, restrict the range of motion a bit and squeeze the hands together to get the weight up.  This will light up your upper pecs and really help you to recruit this often hard to hit area much better.”

Floor Flys – How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

“Floor flys give you a safer way to overload this common chest exercise.  The problem with the traditional fly exercise is that it places your shoulder joints in a compromising position.  Some will say to just drop the amount of weight you use here and you will have no problems.  The issue is, you will be leaving gains on the table by doing that.  Here you can get the best of all worlds while having the floor to support your use of heavier, muscle building weights.”

Chest Cable Crossovers – How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

“The variations of chest crossovers give you an obvious way to get not just one arm, but both, across your body and experience a strong chest contraction.  Whether you do the 3D cross over or the X cross, both of these are going to help you to get great chest activation and even better chest growth over time.”

UCV Raise and Cavaliere Crossover – How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

“The UCV raise and Cavaliere Crossover are two final exercises you can do with a single dumbbell for your chest that are going to help you to blast your pecs at any point in your workout.  The key is to hold each rep for a split second in the contracted position if you really want to increase the intensity of the exercise and grow bigger pecs.”

Focus – How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

Finally, I show you how focusing on your biceps being pressed together during the bench press and even the dip is one of the greatest tips you can use to get better results from these two popular chest exercises.  Don’t think about your hands since they usually wind up traveling in a straight bar path.  Get the biceps closer to each other on every rep and you will get way more out of these two popular chest exercises.


Learn More – How to Build a Strong and Muscular Chest Without the Bench Press

How to Increase Chest Size and Strength

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

3 Hacks for a Bigger Chest

Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (Best to Worst)

9 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Muscles of the Chest

The chest is one of the most important muscle groups in the body. It’s a large, flat region that covers the entire front of your torso and contains muscles which are responsible for movement, as well as protecting vital organs such as the heart, lungs and liver. The two major muscles in your chest are pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

Pectoralis major

The pectoralis major is a large, fan-shaped muscle that covers the front of the chest. It attaches to your sternum and clavicle and originates in your upper arm. The pectoralis major inserts into your humerus (upper arm bone).

This muscle helps you flex your shoulders and move them forward, backward, inward and outward. It also assists with adduction of your upper arm at the shoulder joint.

The pectoralis major can be divided into two sections: clavicular and sternocostal portions.

Pectoralis minor

The pectoralis minor is a small muscle that lies underneath the pectoralis major. It originates at the anterior surface of the third to fifth ribs and inserts on the coracoid process of the scapula. The pectoralis minor is a powerful flexor of the arm and protractor of the shoulder.

You have two muscles in your chest.

The pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor are the two muscles of your chest. The pectoralis major is a large muscle that covers most of the anterior chest and part of your upper arm. The pectorals, as they’re sometimes called, also serve to move your shoulders forward (protract) and lift them away from your body (abduct).

The pectorals are responsible for adduction — bringing your arms back in front of you — as well as internal rotation, which turns your palms inward. These muscles work together with other shoulder girdle muscles to keep your arms close to your body when you run or throw something like a baseball or hammer throw discus.

The pectoralis minor is a thin sheetlike muscle that runs alongside most of its larger counterpart on each side of your body. It originates at different points along ribs 3 through 5, inserts at one end onto the coracoid process (small bump) near where it attaches to bone on all four sides.


The pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are muscles that control the movement of the upper body. You can use them to push, pull or lift objects from a distance, but you can also use them in different ways depending on your needs.

Use the exercises in this article and video to build bigger and stronger chest muscles for your physique and fitness.

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