5 Chest Exercises to Improve Performance and Prevent Injury | STACK

5 Chest Exercises to Improve Performance and Prevent Injury

March 12, 2012

Must See Strength Training Videos

Most athletes loves to perform chest exercises for their sizing-boosting gains. But did you know that chest exercises are also a valuable tool for improving performance and reducing injury?

Chest exercises primarily strengthen the pec muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor; however, they also strengthen the delts, triceps and other upper-body muscles that stabilize the shoulders, helping the upper body work as a cohesive unit with no weaknesses, making you a stronger athlete and preventing injuries.

The exercises below will help improve skills in several different sports:

  • Swimming — Butterfly and Breaststroke
  • Football — Tackling and Blocking
  • Hockey — Body Checking and Shooting
  • Wrestling — Hold and Push Moves
  • Basketball — Rebounding, Passing and Shooting
  • Baseball/Softball — Throwing and Hitting
  • Volleyball — Spikes and Sets

Select two or three of the following exercises and incorporate them in your upper-body workout two times per week. Warm up properly beforehand to prevent injury.


This multi-joint bodyweight exercise effectively builds the chest muscles and strengthens the shoulders, triceps, back and core. Or, choose a Push-Up variation to specifically target different chest areas.

  • Assume Push-Up position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Bend elbows and lower until chest is two inches above ground; keep elbows to sides and core tight
  • Forcefully push up against ground to return to starting position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10-20

Bench Press

The Bench Press is the most popular exercise for building the chest. It's an excellent tool for dramatically increasing strength and size, but don't overdo it. The Bench Press should be a part of your upper-body program, not the whole program.

  • Lie with back on bench
  • With arms extended, grip barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Keeping low back on bench and elbows to sides, slowly lower bar to chest
  • Explosively drive bar back up until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2-3x6-10 with moderate to heavy weight

Dumbbell Fly

Another popular chest exercise, the Dumbbell Fly isolates the pecs. As such, it should be used as a supplement to multi-joint exercises.

  • Lie with back on bench, holding dumbbells with arms extended over chest and palms facing together
  • Lower dumbbells out to sides in arc, keeping arms straight
  • Contract chest to pull arms together to assume start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2-3x8-12

Barbell Pullovers

The Barbell Pullover is an often-overlooked exercise that strengthens the chest, shoulders and upper back.

  • Lie on bench holding barbell with arms extended over chest and shoulders
  • Lower bar toward floor overhead as far as possible without discomfort; keep arms straight
  • Pull weight in opposite direction to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2-3x8-12


Dips are a multi-joint exercise involving almost the whole upper body as well as the core. Perform them leaning forward to further engage your chest along with your triceps.

  • Grasp handles of Dip machine and support body with straight arms
  • Lower body with control until chest is at hand level
  • Push body up until arms are straight; repeat for specified reps
  • Use weight belt to increase challenge

Sets/Reps: 2-3x8-12

Still interested in more ways to work your chest? The STACK Chest Guide contains a rich variety of exercises designed to help you meet your goals.

Photo:  hamptons.com

Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness director at the Greater Morristown YMCA in Cedar Knolls, N.J.

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Get More Explosive With James Harden's Workout

Develop Speed With a Power Bag Workout

The Upper-Body Endurance Combo Workout

Vanderbilt Baseball Pull-Ups

Power Up Your Pecs With Inner-Chest Exercises

How to Build a Stronger Chest

Build Explosive Hips to Jump Higher

Build a Bigger Upper Chest with These Exercises

The Softball Dugout Workout

3 Athletic Arm Exercises for Big Guns

3 Tips to Maximize Your Off-Season Baseball Training

Build Toughness With This Weight Vest Basketball Workout

3 Dumbbell Chest Exercises to Impress the Rest

Build Rock Solid Glutes With This 30-Day Workout Plan

Get Tougher With Skylar Diggins' Bodyweight Workout

Want a Bigger Chest? Don't Focus on the Flat Bench

Breathing Exercises to Strengthen Your Lifts

How to Pair Exercises for a Chest and Back Workout

3 Common Causes of Weight Room Chest Pain

3-Day Workout to Build Chest Mass and Strength

Why the Dead Bug Is Changing Core Training

Hockey Training Designed Specifically for Goalies

Man Does 4,300 Pull-Ups in One Day

Why You're Not Reaching Your Strength and Speed Potential

Bilateral or Unilateral Exercises: Which Are Better?

The Hardest Plank of All Time

4 Easy Fixes for Your Bench Press Routine

A Dumbbell Chest Workout to Build Strength and Size

James Harrison's Physioball Side-to-Side Bridge

Strengthen Your Core With Advanced Plate Push-Outs

The 12 Best RDL Variations

Boost Power With This Med Ball Chest Workout

Kettlebell Swing vs. Olympic Lifting: Which Is Better?

Do Your First Pull-Up With This Simple Workout. Guaranteed.

Baseball Workout for Power Hitting

How to Get Fit Like a Marine

Why I Recommend Dumbbell Chest Exercises for Athletes

Hanley Ramirez's Overhead Tire Pull

Get a Big Chest With 5 Stand-up Exercises

4 Non-Bench Press Exercises to Build Chest Strength

The Secret to Bigger Pecs

3 Loading Schemes to Build Muscle Size

Improve Your Bench Press With Perfect Push-Up Form

Build a Game-Ready Chest

Should You Train for Absolute or Explosive Strength?

How to Train During Your Hockey Season

Perfect Your Bench

Sumo Deadlift for Football Strength

Do Your First Deadlift

Develop a Bulletproof Core With Advanced Barbell Rollouts

7 Tips to Master Single-Leg Exercises

2 Stretches to Prevent Chest Pain

5 Exercises to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy All Season Long

Female Athletes: 4 Ways to Test if Your Knees Are Durable

3 Simple Tips to Deadlift More Weight

The Ultimate Push-Up Workout Plan

4 Strength Exercises for Female Athletes

3D Triceps Workout: 3 Exercises for Huge Arms

The 4 Rules of Bulking Up

TD1 Minute: The Bench Press

STACK Challenge: The Chest and Abs Circuit

Why Bear Crawls Are All the Rage Right Now

Build Hockey Speed and Power with the Hang Clean

Improve Your Durability With 3 BOSU Exercises

Sport-Functional Ways to Build Your Chest

Why One Bench Press Is Not Enough

Build Your Chest Without the Bench Press

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention