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The 3 Best and 3 Worst Exercises for Forcing More Chest Muscle Growth

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Check out the 3 best and 3 worst exercises for forcing more chest muscle growth.

If you want to target your chest, there are plenty of exercises to choose from. But if you don’t have a clue on where to start, or which ones are the best for you, Jeremy Ethier has you covered.

Jeremy Ethier, a renowned fitness trainer and Kinesiology graduate, is the co-founder of Built With Science. His YouTube channel has over 5.5 million subscribers and he delivers clear information with sound background research.

Jeremy Ethier unveils three common chest exercises that could be hindering progress and provides superior alternatives for optimal chest growth.

The 3 Best and 3 Worst Exercises for Forcing More Chest Muscle Growth

Jeremy begins by addressing the inadequacies of popular exercises like the incline bench press, dumbbell fly, and pinch press. He offers more effective alternatives that yield better results.

To attain a well-developed chest with proportionate aesthetics, the upper chest deserves focused attention, as it contributes to chest fullness and overall balanced aesthetics. Despite its popularity, the incline bench press might not be fully capitalizing on its potential due to bench and elbow angles. Contrary to common belief, an excessively high bench angle is not essential for targeting the upper chest effectively.

This insight prompts a re-evaluation of the incline bench press. Many incline benches are preset at angles around 30 degrees, and some even as steep as 45 degrees, potentially compromising optimal upper chest activation.

Single Dumbbell Exercises for Full-Body MuscleSource: Andres Ayrton / Pexels

A more strategic alternative for enhanced chest growth involves the utilization of a low incline dumbbell press at approximately 15 degrees, often corresponding to the first or second notch on the bench. Opting for dumbbells over barbells proves advantageous here, primarily due to the ability to maintain an elbow angle of 45 degrees during pressing. This positioning aligns the arms more effectively with the upper chest muscle fibres, amplifying upper chest engagement. Dumbbells offer the flexibility to adjust wrist position to maximize the desired elbow angle without subjecting the joints to unnecessary strain.

Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (BEST TO WORSE)

Previously an admirer of the dumbbell fly, Jeremy reconsiders its efficacy after delving into the scientific rationale behind chest involvement during the exercise. While the dumbbell fly is lauded for isolating the chest, its impact is predominantly confined to the bottom segment of the movement, where the chest is fully stretched and arms extended sideways. Beyond this point, chest activation diminishes, rendering the exercise less potent for overall chest development.

man performs effective shoulder exercise with dumbbells

Despite this limitation, Ethier advocates for incorporating a fly movement in chest workouts. To achieve this, a pivotal modification is introduced to sustain continuous tension on the chest throughout the entire range of motion. The conventional bench is repositioned vertically and positioned between two cables, set at chest height. This setup enables the execution of a fly exercise that maintains consistent chest tension. In instances where cables are unavailable, the same effect can be replicated using a resistance band, enhancing chest engagement throughout the movement.

Jeremy further addresses a popular “Instagram famous” chest exercise involving the compression of weight plates or dumbbells while executing outward and inward arm movements: the pinch press. Despite its popularity, this exercise primarily induces isometric contraction in the chest, which is less effective for muscle building. The primary beneficiaries are the front deltoids and triceps, as they propel the weight movements.

To optimize chest development, Jeremy introduces an alternative: the cross body press. This exercise, performed using a machine or cable, necessitates a setup at a 90-degree angle, enabling one-arm pushes across the body. The same effect can be achieved using a handle attachment on a cable or a resistance band.

This modification retains the potent activation and squeeze of the chest achieved in the exercise. However, by pushing the weight across the body rather than merely maintaining pressure, this adaptation ensures the chest experiences the appropriate contraction for optimal growth.

Watch the video below to understand the 3 best and 3 worst exercises for forcing more chest muscle growth according to Jeremy Ethier.

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Training your chest can have a number of benefits for your overall fitness and physical health. Here are some reasons why you might want to train your chest:

  1. Strengthening your chest muscles: Chest exercises like bench press, push-ups, and dumbbell flyes can help you build stronger chest muscles. This can improve your overall upper body strength and make it easier to perform daily activities that require pushing or pulling.
  2. Aesthetics: A well-developed chest can enhance the appearance of your upper body, giving you a more balanced and proportional physique.
  3. Improved posture: A strong chest can also help improve your posture by pulling your shoulders back and helping you maintain a more upright position.
  4. Increased metabolism: Chest exercises can also help boost your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.
  5. Improved athletic performance: A strong chest can improve your performance in a variety of sports and activities that require upper body strength, such as basketball, football, and rock climbing.
crossfit womenSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Overall, training your chest can have numerous benefits for your physical health, appearance, and athletic performance. It’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises into your chest workout routine to ensure that you’re targeting all the muscles in your chest, as well as other muscles in your upper body.

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The frequency at which you should train your chest depends on several factors such as your fitness goals, overall fitness level, and your training program.

In general, it is recommended that you train your chest muscles at least once per week to see improvements in strength and muscle growth. However, some individuals may benefit from training their chest more frequently, such as 2-3 times per week, especially if they are more experienced lifters and are looking to target specific areas of the chest.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t train your chest muscles on consecutive days as this can lead to overtraining and increase the risk of injury. Additionally, it’s important to allow your muscles to rest and recover between workouts, so that they have time to repair and grow.

Source: Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Overall, the frequency at which you should train your chest will depend on your individual goals and fitness level, so it’s best to consult with a certified fitness professional who can help you design a personalized workout plan that meets your needs.

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