Weight Bench Exercises for Chest
If you have kids, you’ve probably seen the movie Moana (and depending on whether they loved it or not have had to suffer through multiple re-runs!). What stands out about one of the main characters, Maui, in addition to his personal shortcomings, is his big, broad chest.
Even if you don’t have kids, having a chest like that doesn’t exactly seem like a bad thing right?
Well, believe it or not, it’s actually possible!
It won’t happen overnight, but starting off with some basic exercises will help you get there. Then, you can upgrade your workout as you see fit. But first, let’s have a conversation about mastering some of the basic exercises that you can do on your friendly and homey weight bench!
The 5 Best Weight Bench Exercises for Chest
1. Chest Press (or Barbell Bench Press)
Grab some of your favorite dumbbell friends, cause we’re taking a ride to Chest-Town! This is a classic exercise that’s so easy to do, you’ll end up wondering why you needed to read through this paragraph (but seriously, do so anyway because you know – safety.)
So first off you’ll want to lie down with your back facing the weight bench. Next, pick a weight that challenges you just enough to break a sweat as you lift them from a “U-shape” posture of your arms and then bring them back down.
You might have seen this done with a barbell as well – the concept is the same. However, if you’re using a barbell please make sure you have someone spotting you. Training is apathetic to the person doing it!
If you’re looking to take this to the next level, then consider the inclined version of this exercise. You simply set the bench at 30 or 45 degrees. It sounds easy but it’s significantly more arduous so go easy!
2. Chest Flys
This one is a great exercise that really makes you workout your chest.
You’ll start off in a position similar to the Chest Press, but with lighter weights.
What you’ll want to do is extend your arms as horizontally far apart as possible while gripping the weights and then bring them close together at the same level as the chest press. Think of your arms as pivots for drawing arcs in the air. The horsepower for this exercise actually comes more from your chest than your biceps, which is why you want to start off with lighter weights (remember, you can always scale up instead of getting injured in the first round).
3. Dumbbell Pull Overs
Okay, this one can get a bit confusing so pay attention folks!
First, lay down with your back against the weight bench and grab a reasonably weighted dumbbell (that means just one!). Next, you’ll want to hold it above your chest in a vertical fashion (such that the horizontal bar is perpendicular to your body) and slowly extend your arms back to a 90 degrees position.
Due to the strenuous position it puts your body in, but mostly your chest, it’s highly recommended that you do this with not too heavy of a weight.
Wouldn’t want to have it plump on that beautiful face now, would we? (Ha!)
If you want to take this to the next level then you can carry out the exercise with the motion of a swimmer’s butterfly stroke. You’ll be relying on both your shoulders and chest – so remember to take deep breaths.
4. Single Arm Weight Press
This one is pretty much like the classic dumbbell press with just one caveat – you’ll be carrying a weight in only one arm and the other arm will be extended out completely.
“What does this accomplish?”, I hear you ask.
It ensures that you’re targeting your chest only. If you’re struggling with the weight and your arm isn’t extended, you’re likely to use the free arm to pivot instead of your chest. That means you’re putting strain on your body in an awkward position – which defeats the purpose of working out!
5. Reverse Grip Dumbbell / Bench Press
The reverse grip bench press is no joke.
The setup is simple – grab some dumbbells or a bar and simply ascend the weights to an elevated all while keeping your back and butt firmly on the weight bench.
But here’s where it gets difficult – you hold the weight in such a way that your fingers point outwards after you grip them. If you’re having doubts, simply position your hands in a reverse-grip like fashion and push them towards the air. Then do the same with a normal clenched-fist. You should notice a slight challenge with the former grip, in the form of your chest tightening up a little.
Now imagine that with weights. Yeah, it’s no joke.
6. Bonus: Dumbbell Twist Press
The Dumbbell Twist Press is a variant of the classic dumbbell press and one of my personal favorite weight bench exercises for chest. You start with a similar posture as that of the classic but with slightly more extended arms. Then, you rotate /in/ until you reach that elevated vertical position with both weights. Once you’re there, you’ll want to rotate the weights alone until they are at the same position (rotational-wise) as they were when situated horizontally.
Is your head spinning? Here’s an easier way to remember it: Lay back, rotate, elevate, rotate and descend. Five words – but one heck of a workout!
Well, that’s it folks! You now have the fundamentals of weight bench exercises for chest down. Be sure to practice with reasonable weights and in a safe environment – and don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to spot you!
We all start somewhere and workouts are meant to be enjoyed!
Of course, a chest exercise workout article isn’t complete without some wise words from Arnold Schwarzenegger. And here’s a great quote to get you motivated to build a chest that you’re proud of:
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Wow, just writing that down has inspired me! I’m going to hit the gym now – what about you?
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Hey I’m Patrick!
I built my first home gym in 2012, when I decided I was tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and I started GGC in 2020 to help people find the info they need to improve their fitness and their lives.
I’m passionate about fitness, especially when it comes to working out at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to do and what not to do, and my mission is to share that knowledge with the world!