Who doesn’t like looking ripped in a white t-shirt or turning heads at the beach with impressive pecs? We have the best chest exercises you can do at home to transform that chest into a masterpiece you can be proud of. Prepare to sweat as you pump and press your way to building the pecs you’ve always dreamed of.
Exactly what are your pecs and what do they do?
The chest muscles consist of two different sized muscles – the largest is called the musculus pectoralis major. It has a fan-shaped structure and covers the entire front rib area, running from the clavicle and breastbone to the humerus. This guy is responsible for the motor control of the arms and can pull them towards the body and can spread them apart.
Its little brother is called the pectoralis minor muscle who rises from the ribs and goes up to the shoulder blade. His job is to guide his arms and also support the shoulder in many movements.
Both muscles are also auxiliary breathing muscles. A strong chest therefore makes a significant contribution to optimally supplying our body with oxygen.
The basics to building an awesome chest at home
Before you start smashing out sets, consider two things – the intensity and the so-called ‘time under tension’. The intensity to make sure your muscles grow optimally should be 65-85% of their maximum strength. If you work with your own body weight, with dumbbells or fitness bands, then you need an indicator:
Finding your optimal range
You’re training at the optimal range if you can barely manage the last reps of each set with normal breathing. If you train on a multi-gym, you should test your maximum strength beforehand. This is the weight of an exercise that you can master when done correctly and it means you’re maximising the effectiveness of your workout.
How to get the right balance
Studies have shown that three sets of 8-12 repetitions are most effective at 70-80% of maximum strength. Here’s how to find your range. Warm up for a few minutes. Then do a few reps on the selected machine with a light weight to prepare the muscles. Then choose a weight that you think you can only do one rep.
Depending on whether it is too heavy or too light, adjust the weight until you get it right. Three or four attempts are usually enough. Give your muscles a break of about four minutes between attempts. The ‘time under tension’ is ideally 30-60 seconds. This corresponds to 6-15 reps each.
Focus on the eccentric phase for exploding pecs
Your pecs will go to the next level if you concentrate on the eccentric phase. This is the phase of the exercise where you slowly lower the weight, under control back into the starting position. If you lower the weight slowly and with focus, you’ll reap the benefits big time.
What equipment devices is best for building chest muscles?
From beginners to advanced, it all starts here.
- A dumbbell set with between 3-8kgs
- Weight bench with barbells
- Fitness straps
- Power station or a weight bench with barbells think and the associated weights.
The best chest muscle exercises
If you’re training with dumbbells and a fitness band, these exercise will get those pecs rippling.
1. Bench press with dumbbells
Lie with your back on the floor or on a weight bench. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and hold them over your chest with your arms straight with your palms facing forward. Then bend your arms far to the sides of the body and then push them up again. If you’re been training for a while, you can alternately bending and straighten your arms.
2. Flying with dumbbell
Take a dumbbell in each hand and lie on your back on the floor or on a weight bench. Keep your arms straight over your shoulders with your elbows slightly bent. Tense your core muscles so your entire back rests on it and then lower your arms to the sides until your upper our arms and shoulder axis form a line.
3. Covers with dumbbells
Take a dumbbell in each hand and lie down on a flat weight bench with only your shoulders on your side. Bring your arms straight up, with your elbows very slightly bent. Then lower your almost straight arms straight back until they are at head height. Hold briefly and lift again vertically.
4. Pushups with fitness bands
Any of the pushup variations are another awesome exercise for your pecs. They are particularly effective if you also work with a training or fitness band at the same time. Get into the pushup position. Place the training band over your back and fix both ends with your hands on the floor. The body should form a straight line. Then slowly lower your torso until the tip of your nose almost touches the ground and then slowly push yourself up against the resistance of the training band. You can vary the resistance depending on your performance. Its best to do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
5. Bench press with the barbell
This is the classic. Lie on your back on the flat or incline bench and hold the barbell more than shoulder-width apart. Lift the barbell out of its anchorage then bring it down to your sternum without laying it down, then push the weight back up without fully extending your arms. Breathe in when lowering the weight, breathe out when pushing up.
6. Training at the multi-gym
Depending on the equipment, you can rip out some highly-effective chest muscle training on a multi-gym. The chest press and the butterfly function will sculpt the perfect pecs. Multi-gyms are particularly good for beginners because the movements are guided which reduces the risk of injury.
The training programs
Pec pumping for beginners
Beginners should train with either dumbbells or on a multi-gym. Pick two to three exercises that you want to do in one training session. Before you start, warm up for a few minutes. Your exercise program should look like this:
Two to three training sessions a week, take a break of at least 48 hours in between
Complete 3 sets of 12 reps each.
- Choose a weight you can barely manage the 12 reps without struggling.
- Do the exercises quickly but continuously.
- Avoid explosive and jerky movements.
- Take a 2-3 minute break between sets.
- In between chest exercises, you should exercises train other muscle groups.
- After three weeks of regular training, increase the weight of the dumbbell by 1-2 kilos.
- Start by training to 70% of your capacity
- You can do butterfly and chest press in one workout, but preferably not one after the other.
- In addition to a pec workout, also exercise your back, legs, and abs.
- When you train on a multi-gym, you increase to 80 percent of your maximum strength.
- After three weeks of regular training, increase the weight to 80% of your capacity.
- After six weeks, you should start seeing results and you can expand your training program
A chiselled chest for advanced trainers
If you’ve built a strong training base after 6-8 weeks, you can move on to the next level. To really shape those pecs, you have to work with heavy weights. Let’s start working to 80-90% capacity strength or until we hit what is known as muscle failure. In other words, you do so many reps you can’t do any more clean and concise moves. Do 3 sets with a weight you can barely do 5-6 reps. The best way to train is with a partner who can help.
How to crush your goals and train different areas?
When you’ve reached an advanced level (this takes about 3 months with regular training) you can really push yourself get amazing results with a varied workout. The bench press looks like this:
- Incline the weight bench to train the upper part of the pectoral muscle.
- Reduce the distance between your hands when gripping the barbell to train the inner part of the chest muscles.
- With a large hand spacing on the barbell, the outer parts of the pectoral muscle in particular benefit.
- If you lower the dumbbell in the area of the costal arch and bring it back up, you’ll target the lower muscles and they’ll thrive/
Smash your goal then maintain the muscle
- If you’ve hit your target and don’t want to build anymore muscle mass, it’s time for maintenance training.
- 3 sets of 8-12 reps at 70-80% of maximum strength are ideal.
- 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a 1-2 minute break in between.
- 2-3 exercises for the chest muscles are then sufficient per workout.
Remember, it’s so important to train your back, abdominal and leg muscles as well. That’s how you’ll not only keep a sculpted, symmetrical appearance, but you’ll avoid muscle imbalance and injury. If you want to gain muscle mass again after a while, you can repeat this professional program.