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The best workouts for a strong chest

You need to develop a strong chest in order to lead an athletic and pain-free life. Lounge speaks to experts to bring you the best chest workouts

Build your strength with these great chest workouts.
Build your strength with these great chest workouts. (Istockphoto)

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In these times when high intensity interval training, long distance running, boot camps and overall fitness are all the rage, old fashioned isolation training can seem a bit unfashionable. Ironically, this shift in attitudes has happened despite the fact that most fitness enthusiasts love the “pump”. The truth of the matter is that for the “pump” you need isolation exercises. Isolation workouts not only help shape and boost targeted muscle groups, but they also help strengthen them and that makes isolation workouts a critical component in you exercise regimen.

Chest is one muscle group that stares us in the face all the time and is one that plays a significant role in maintaining our posture and day-to-day life. “The chest muscles, along with the subscapularis, are considered the power-producing muscles of the upper body,” explains A.K. Abhinav, coach and founder of NammaXfit in Bengaluru. “Athletic movements like throwing, punching and pushing are facilitated by the chest musculature.” Chest muscles also assist in shoulder adduction (bringing the arm close to the body), says Gagan Arora, celebrity trainer and founder of Delhi-based Kosmic Fitness. Arora adds that the chest muscles are one of the major muscle groups that should be trained to perform well in any sport, or even for daily activities. A strong chest is important to provide strength and support for the shoulder joint complex.

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The chest muscles also play a crucial role in how we look and play a big role in achieving the shoulder to waist ratio that is so sought after among both men and women. “Strong chest muscles make you look broader around your shoulders as compared to the waist. It also avoids sagging of the bust and gives a strong physical appeal to the body,” says Arora. Strengthening the chest also plays a major role in achieving balance between the upper and lower body. It also enhances one’s ability to push and lift heavy loads in front of the body.

The basic rule of thumb for all chest exercises is this: the narrower the hand position and movement, the greater the triceps contribution and the lesser the chest contribution; conversely, the wider the hand or movement angle position, the greater the chest contribution and the lesser the triceps contribution. The muscles of the chest respond in two ways depending on the stimulus given, explains Abhinav. “If you are looking for muscle size and bulk, perform traditional exercises like bench presses, dumbbell fly, push-ups and the variations of these movements,” he says. “But, if your goal is athletic performance, all movements that target the chest must be performed at speed. It usually involves plyometric exercises in conjunction with traditional strength training for the chest.” Here are some workouts to start you out for chest days.

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A.K. Abhinav’s workouts for chest

Workout 1 (Aesthetics)

A. Super Set of 15, 12, 8, 8 reps

Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumbell Chest Fly

B. Super Set of 15, 12, 8 reps

Decline Dumbbell Chest Press

Decline Pushups

C. Giant Set of 15, 12, 8 reps

Close Grip Chest Press

Tricep Kickbacks

Military Pushups

Workout 2 (Strength)

A. Single Set

Bench Press: 5 reps x 5 @ 75% of your heaviest bench press

B. Super Set

Weighted Dip: 5 reps x 5

Triceps Kickback: 10 reps x 5

C. Super Set

1-1-2 Chest Press: 5 reps x 5

Tricep Extensions: 10 reps x 5

D. Single Set

Tempo Pushups (5 seconds down, 5 seconds up): 5 reps x 5

Workout 3 (Athletic Performance)

A. Single Set

Bench Press Throws on Smith Machine: 5 reps x 5 @ 40% of your heaviest bench press

B. Super Set

Weighted Push-ups: 5 reps x 5

Plyometric Push-ups: 5 reps x 5

C. Super Set

Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 5 reps x 5

Single Arm Rotational Chest Pass: 5 reps x 5

D. Single Set

Landmine Rotational Press: 10 reps x 5

Gagan Arora’s workout for chest:

Three sets of each exercise

Push-ups: Maximum reps

Chest Press: 10-12 reps

Chest Flies: 10-12 reps

Pullovers: 10-12 reps

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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