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Chest Exercises to Build Power, Strength and Muscle

CrossFit is a multi functional sport that uses compounded exercises. As your chest is a large muscle group, it is an part of those compounded exercises. It is important for many upper body exercises such as push ups, dips and almost every overhead movement such as presses and even chin ups.

Therefore a well trained chest will brings you advantages. But the more muscles you build, the slower you may get. And not only slow but immobile. A huge chest will hinder you to pull yourself high enough for a muscle up. Leave this for the Bodybuilders, that is indeed impressive but totally useless for the sport of CrossFit.

We do not train for volume or a harmoniously looking body (well, not primary). We need power, we need speed, we need strength. What we want to achieve are strong and conditioned pectorals and here is how to achieve that:

You will not find the Barbell Bench Press here. Why not?

If you are looking for new incentives for your leg training, would it be helpful to mention back squats? We will assume that you are already very familiar with these exercise and want to expand your training stimulus. Of course that does not mean that you shouldn’t skip bench pressing from your training.

For more information on the bench press check out this article:

Why Crossfitters Should Bench Press More Often

Pull Overs

I did them in my old Bodybuilding times and forgot about them as I hit a Box for the first time.

Getting them recommended in different strength programs like the “Squats & Milk”, brought them back on my plan. I do them directly after I squatted heavy or for longer sets to open my chest. It causes miracles as it stretches the muscle slowly under load.


Chris Colucci from T-Nation explains what is so special about the PullOver:

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Some experts say pullovers are an effective chest exercise. They’re right
  • Some experts say pullovers are an effective back exercise. They’re also right.
  • Pullovers aren’t for everyone, especially people with shoulder issues. Check your upper body mobility before diving in.

One Exercise to Hit Many Muscles

Imagine you saw a group of guys gathered near the dumbbell rack taking turns doing an exercise you’ve never seen it before, so you ask what they’re doing.

  • In a funny, not-quite-German accent, one tells you, “I do zis every chest workout. Ze pump you get feels incredible, like being wiz a woman.”
  • The second dude, with an even funnier accent, drops a 200-pound dumbbell to the floor after finishing his set. “Yeah, buddy! Love doing these with light… weight… baby!”
  • A wide British monster whose shadow covers half the wall chimes in. “I include this in every back workout. The stretch on the lats and the peak contraction are key.”
  • The fourth lifter is super-ripped and would be a great fitness model. “I’ve been doing this for years and it really built up my serratus. It makes a huge difference in my ab poses.”
  • Last, a real old-timer sits up after a set and tells you, “This’ll stretch your ribcage and give you the kind of barrel torso Hercules would be proud of.”

And that’s the complicated, confusing, even contradictory world of the pullover.


  • Place a dumbbell standing up on a flat bench.
  • Ensuring that the dumbbell stays securely placed at the top of the bench, lie perpendicular to the bench (torso across it as in forming a cross) with only your shoulders lying on the surface. Hips should be below the bench and legs bent with feet firmly on the floor. The head will be off the bench as well.
  • Grasp the dumbbell with both hands and hold it straight over your chest at arms length. Both palms should be pressing against the underside one of the sides of the dumbbell. This will be your starting position.
  • While keeping your arms straight, lower the weight slowly in an arc behind your head while breathing in until you feel a stretch on the chest.
  • At that point, bring the dumbbell back to the starting position using the arc through which the weight was lowered and exhale as you perform this movement.
  • Hold the weight on the initial position for a second and repeat the motion for the prescribed number of repetitions.
  • Always ensure that the dumbbell used for this exercise is secure. Using a dumbbell with loose plates can result in the dumbbell falling apart and falling on your face.
    If you are new to this movement, have a spotter hand you the weight instead. If not, please ensure that the dumbbell does not fall on you as you arrange your torso to perform the exercise on the bench.

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