How to Build a Stronger Chest

STACK Expert Steve Green recommends his top four exercises for building a bigger chest and offers a sample workout.

A strong chest is a goal of every competitive athlete. For starters, a well-built chest is incredibly functional in athletics. Whether you're an offensive lineman trying to push off oncoming pass rushers or a wrestler looking to grab an opponent, your chest muscles play an important role. Here are some exercises to focus on as well as a quick workout to build up your chest muscles.

Bench Press

Bench Press

The Bench Press is the king of all chest exercises, one main reason being that it engages the entire pectoralis major muscle, as well as the pectoralis minor, anterior deltoid, serratus anterior and coracobrachialis muscles. In other words, the Bench Press works a lot of muscles and works them effectively. Yet for all of the benefits it offers, the Bench Press also also some drawbacks.

Athletes with longer arms are at a greater risk of injury because longer arms increase the extent to which the pectoralis major is stretched. To avoid this, athletes with longer arms can bring their hands closer together on the bar or lower the bar to their chest only partially.

Check out the video above with Ndamukong Suh to learn how to build a big-time Bench.

Dumbbell Press

The muscles engaged with the Dumbbell Press are similar to those used with the Barbell Bench Press. In addition, the Dumbbell Press also works the triceps brachii, just not in an intense contraction. Personally, I prefer the Dumbbell Press to the Barbell Press because the Dumbbell Press provides a greater range of motion, which stretches the pectoralis muscles in a safer fashion. Learn how to take your Bench Press to the next level with these dumbbell variations in the video above.

Incline Press

The Incline Press, whether dumbbell or barbell, is similar to its flat-bench counterpart in terms of mechanics. The key to using the Incline Press effectively is to find the right angle of incline. I recommend an incline of no more than 60 degrees. By limiting your incline to 60 degrees, you will prevent the deltoid from working too hard. No one wins when you tear a deltoid. Check out the video at the top.


Push-Ups are the most basic chest exercise you can do. All you need are your body and a little bit of space. The Push-Up works great for developing the pectoralis major and the triceps brachii muscles. There are many variations of Push-Ups to keep the exercise fresh and challenging. Check out ten of the best Push-Up variations.

Below is a sample chest workout that can get you started on the right path. It is suitable for both novice and advanced athletes, especially those who are pressed for time but still want results. As always, practice safe form and choose a weight that is challenging but not impossible to complete the prescribed sets/reps.

Sample Chest Workout

  • Dumbbell Press: 3x8-10
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 3x8-10
  • Dumbbell Flys, Cable Cross, Chest Dips (Choose one exercise): 3x8-10
  • Push-Ups: 15
  • Push-Ups (Feet Elevated): 15
  • Push-Ups (Hands Elevated): 15

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock