Want to strengthen your chest? Having strong chest muscles will improve your performance in a variety of sports and activities and might turn a few heads at the beach in the process. But which exercises should you be doing to strengthen your chest?
The Best Chest Workout:
A study out of the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse set out to determine which of 9 common chest exercises are the most effective: barbell bench press, the pec deck machine, bent-forward cable crossovers, the chest press machine, inclined dumbbell flys, dips, suspended push-ups, stability ball push-ups and standard push-ups. EMG electrodes were placed on the pectoralis major muscles of each participant to determine how much muscle activation each exercise caused. Here are the results:
The standard push-up didn’t fare well. In line with conventional wisdom though, the barbell bench press came out on top. As you can see in the chart, all of the other exercises were expressed as a percentage of the barbell bench press. So the standard push-up, for example, led to 61% of the muscle activation of the barbell bench press. Here’s a video demonstration of the top 3:
The barbell bench press, pec deck machine and bent-forward cable crossovers should be near the top of your list of chest exercises. There was a significant drop-off in muscle activation after these 3 exercises. Although push-ups are relatively ineffective for building your chest, they’re better than nothing if you’re short on time and/or equipment.