Have you ever seen a guy with almost-great upper body development look as if someone had taken a shovel to what should have been a thick, slab-like-chest and scraped it right off, leaving nothing but a flat little-boy chest? I have – plenty, and it looks ridiculous. I mean – the chest is the centre of the body, up front for all to see!
A strong chest is at the very core of not only physique, but also strength. Without it, you have neither a complete physique nor strength.
I’ve always had good success training the chest – once I started using the right exercises, and in this article I’ll share with you the main exercises I think go into making a worthy chest.
Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Presses
The basic, flat-bench barbell press is probably my all time favourite exercise – and I’ve had good success with developing my chest using nothing but this exercise when I first started out.
Of course, you are probably aware there are many variations to this exercise such as flat, decline, and incline, and also variations in grip width which have different effects (wider grip means more chest, closer grip means more triceps). But, you can also perform the bench press using dumbbells which gives you greater range of motion and stretch in the chest, and also puts more stress on the chest muscles by forcing them to control two separate weights rather than a single, more-stable barbell.
As such, some may even find that the dumbbell bench press is superior for chest development.
If you want my advice, I’d mix it up a bit. In bodybuilding, variation is the key, and even slight changes in angle can mean the difference between no results and good results.
V Bar or Parallel Bar Dips
Notorious bodybuilding coach Vince Gironda recommended the usage of V bar stations for chest development. Vince even believed it was far superior to the bench press for building the chest, and with as many years experience as Vince had, he may well be right.
If you can – I’d go with Vince on this and use the V bars. Most of the time however, you’ll have to use parallel bars – V bars are rather rare apparatus in gyms these days – but don’t fret, they are still awesome for developing the chest.
To work the chest, you either need to do a pressing movement, or you can exploit the other movement that strings from the chest – the ability to bring your arms across your body… and this is precisely what flies do, as opposed to pressing.
Another reason why flies are such an exceptional exercise for chest development, many suspect, is the superb stretch they give to the chest muscles on each repetition. (In fact, many believe Arnold built his incredible chest by exploiting the stretch with a hold at the bottom after his reps, forcing extra growth. Try it!)