Best Exercises for Men’s Chest

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on December 19, 2022
4 min read

Having solid, well-built chest muscles is vital if you want to be strong and healthy. You may want to play sports, carry a bunch of groceries, lift your kids in the air, or just look and feel good. Whatever it is, exercising and developing strong chest muscles is essential.

Chest muscles, also known as the pectoralis muscles, connect the front walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder. There are two muscles on each side of the sternum­—the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. 

There are hundreds of different types of exercises you can do to strengthen your chest muscles and build muscle mass. A study identified the nine most effective exercises for men’s chests, with three being particularly effective. The top three chest exercises are:

1. Barbell Bench Press

Step 1: Use a weight that you know you will be comfortable bench-pressing

Step 2: With your feet flat on the ground, lie back flat on the weight bench

Step 3: Place hands on the bar slightly further apart than shoulder-width

Step 4: Remove the bar from the support and slowly lower it down to your chest

Step 5: Once your elbows reach a 90-degree bend, push the bar back up 

Step 6: Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions

2. Pec Deck Machine

Step 1: While sitting at a Pec Deck Machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the ground and your back up against the back pad

Step 2: Bring your arms to the arm pads, making sure your elbows are at 90-degree angles

Step 3: Slowly push the arm pads towards each other, hold for 5 seconds, and slowly release back to the starting position

Step 4: Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions

3. Bent-Forward Cable Crossovers

Step 1: Start in a staggered stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart

Step 2: Grip each handle. The handles should be lower than the shoulders and your elbows should be slightly bent

Step 3: Leaning forward, bring your hands together in front of you and hold for 3 seconds, then release

Step 4: Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions

And there are more exercises that, while not as effective as the top three still provide a good workout. These can also add variety to your chest exercise regimen. They are:

4. Chest Press Machine

Step 1: Sit at the chest press machine and place your feet shoulder-width apart

Step 2: Grip the handles and ensure your elbows are directly behind your hands

Step 3: Push forward slowly, hold for 3 seconds, then release back slowly

Step 4: Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions

5. Inclined Dumbbell Flys

Step 1: Adjust your weight bench so it’s at a 45-degree angle to the floor

Step 2: Place dumbbells on each side of the bench

Step 3: Sit and lean back on the bench

Step 4: Reach down and grab the dumbbells

Step 5: Lift them to your thighs and readjust your grip

Step 6: Slowly, lift them up straight above your head, then slowly bring them down on each side

Step 7: Once your arms are parallel to the ground, slowly bring them back up and touch them above your head

Step 8: Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions 

6. Dips

Step 1: Place your hands at a comfortable position on the dip bar handles

Step 2: Lift yourself up until your arms are almost straight (you don’t want to lock your elbows straight)

Step 3: Drop slowly until your elbows are at 90-degree angles, hold for 3 seconds, then rise back up

Step 4: For extra chest muscle tension, let your elbows flare out on the dip

Step 5: Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 dips

7.Push-ups (Standard, Suspended, and Stability Ball Variations) 

Step 1: Start on the floor on your knees, lean forward, and catch your fall with your hands

Step 2: Extend your legs back so you are now on your hands and tiptoes (for an easier push-up, you can stay on your knees)

Step 3: Drop slowly until your nose almost touches the ground and push back up

Step 4: Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 push-ups

Step 5: For variations, you can use gymnastics rings that hang almost to the floor, or push-up against a stability ball

Exercising is one of the best ways to feel good about yourself and lead a healthy lifestyle. It is important to remember, however, that exercise should never cause injury or inflict pain. Before beginning any exercise, assess your current level of physical fitness and be realistic with what you can and cannot do.

It is recommended that new workouts start out being done slowly and with caution. Once you are comfortable with the movements and requirements of the exercise, you can gradually build up to doing more repetitions, heavier weights, or longer time periods.

Seek professional advice if you have any doubts or questions about an exercise or a workout plan.