The easiest way to look at chest training is to break it down by upper, middle, and lower chest exercises. These are then broken down by press and fly movements. Be sure to work all three areas during your chest workout, otherwise your chest will develop out of balance.
Upper Chest Presses
Upper chest presses are a real money maker when it comes to adding mass to your chest. All chest presses should be done with a moderate to heavy weight, 8 to 10 repetitions.
Incline Bench Press / Dumbbell Press
Place your feet to where they are comfortable and provide a good base of support. Where you grasp the bar is a matter of personal preference. Most people use a grip right around shoulder width, though some like to go with a wide grip. The key with any incline press is to keep the bar moving relatively straight up and down, over the chest. When the bar touches down, it should touch the upper chest, NOT the neck.
This is a common mistake on this exercise. Keeping the bar over your chest will ensure that your chest muscles work the most efficiently, while reducing risk of injury. The difference with dumbbells is that they allow you to go deeper on the downward motion. They also require a lot more stabilization and balance.
Middle Chest Presses
These are the most common chest exercises used. Though they focus mainly on the middle of the chest, they are good at maintaining balance between all chest muscles.
Bench Press / Dumbbell Press
Place your feet where comfortable. Some prefer to keep their legs up, ankles crossed, in order to keep pressure off the back. Again this is strictly personal preference, though if you are a beginner, I strongly recommend keeping your feet on the floor for stability. When it comes to any kind of press, keep the weight centered over the chest, and whatever you do, DO NOT bounce the weight off your chest! Stay in control throughout each repetition. If you have to bounce the weight off your chest, swallow your ego and go lighter.
Lower Chest Lifts
The lower chest is an often-neglected bodypart, however it is easy to overwork and get out of proportion. The thing to remember is to do all lower chest lifts last in your workout.
Decline Bench Press/Dumbbell Press
These require a special decline bench, and can feel very awkward at first. When performing the exercise, keep the weight centered over your chest, and be sure not to keep it too high (at the neck) or too low (bottom of the rib cage).
EZ Bar / Dumbbell / Machine
These use both the lower chest as well as the lats. If using the EZ bar use the close grip. If using a dumbbell, form your hands into a triangle as you grasp the dumbbell. Lower the weight back so that it stretches your torso. Your elbows should be slightly bent. Then keeping your arms fairly rigid, pull the weight so that it is centered over your chest.
There are various machines at most gyms that allow for all three types of presses. Most are labeled to let you know which muscle group they are working. The principle works the same on sets and reps.
Start with a weight that is fairly light. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lower the weight until you feel a stretch in the chest. Be careful not to start too heavy, or to lower the weight too far. This can lead to injury of both the chest and rotator cuff.
Squeeze the weight back to the starting position. Be sure to focus on squeezing the chest muscles, and not using your arms to lift the weight. Flyes should be done with a lightweight, 12 to 15 repetitions.
Machine / Cable Flyes
I have only seen a machine for doing regular flyes. If you want to use the cable system for doing flyes, you can stand either with your feet shoulder width apart, or one foot in front of the other. Either is acceptable. To work the upper chest, set the cables at the lowest setting. To work the lower chest, set the cables at the highest setting.
Sample Chest Workout
|Incline Dumbbell Press||3||8 to 10||75*|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8 to 10||75*|
|Decline Press (Machine)||3||8 to 10||65*|
|Incline Dumbbell Flyes||3||12 to 15||45*|
|Dumbbell Flyes||3||12 to 15||40*|
|Decline Dumbbell Flyes||3||12 to 15||35*|