5 Underrated Exercises for Building a Thick, Explosive Chest

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When you walk into the gym on Monday to crush another chest session in celebration of International Chest Day, you most likely have 3 things on your mind: bench press, dumbbell press, and cable flies.

These are the most common exercises you will see anyone executing on chest day because they are the basics and they work.

Compound movements using a barbell and dumbbells are going to build that strength and mass in your chest, while flye movements are a beneficial in sculpting, shaping, and developing that veiny definition within your chest. Pairing these compound and fly movements together lays the foundation for building a strong, explosive chest.

They key to building a big, strong, and aesthetic looking chest is to hit the muscle group from multiple angles. It’s good to switch up your routine occasionally or supplement your regular chest day with a few different exercises to help strengthen weak points in your chest.

These 5 chest movements sometimes get lost in the shuffle of the traditional pressing and flye movements, but should not be overlooked. These are exercises you should try on your next chest day so you can feel how they can hit your pectorals in a different way and at a different angle compared to your normal routine.

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5 Best Chest Exercises for Mass that You Need to Use More

#1 – Low Cable Flye

The cable flye is a staple movement of any chest routine as it builds definition within your chest and shapes the muscle. This exercise is normally performed with the cables set at a high to mid height, bringing the cables either straight down or directly in front of you.

But, most people forget this movement can be done with the cable machine set low. By pulling the weight up and in from a position below your chest, you are targeting development and strength in your lower chest. The key to building a strong and aesthetic chest overall is to hit each part of the chest evenly and this movement allows you to target the lower part of your chest.

This is a great exercise to add to your normal cable flye movements as a second exercise. After completing your 3-4 sets of mid to high cable flies simply lower the cables to the bottom and finish your flye movements off with an additional 3-4 sets of low cable flies.

#2 – Svend Press

The svend press is my favorite, pump-amplifying, super set chest movement to perform on chest day.

With this movement you will grab two 5lbs or 10lbs plates (depending on your strength level) and squeeze them in between your hands with your fingertips pointing out in front of you, holding the weights near your chest. Push your arms out, directly in front of you, flexing your chest as you push the weight.

Activate your shoulders and forearms to keep the weights tight in between your hands and don’t lock your elbows out as you push out. You want your chest to stay squeezed and under tension as you are pushing the weight out and bringing it back towards your chest.

This exercise targets on the squeeze of your inner chest, giving you those lines and striations along the middle of your chest. By performing this exercise as a super set with a cable fly or dumbbell movement you target both the outer and inner muscle groups of the pectorals and take your chest pump to a new level.

Low Cable Flyes

By pulling the weight up and in from a position below your chest, you are targeting development and strength in your lower chest.

#3 – High Incline Smith Machine Bench Press

Performing an incline movement is fundamental for building a strong, upper chest that pops out of that low V-neck shirt you’re wearing. But, most of the time we are all performing incline chest movements at a relatively similar 45 degree angle. By using an adjustable incline bench and moving the incline to a higher 65-75 degree angle, you are hitting your upper chest in a way you never have before.

Completing this movement on a Smith machine keeps the chest under constant tension and allows you to focus on feeling the squeeze of the muscle at the top of your chest. With this movement it’s all about positioning yourself correctly and feeling your upper chest explode with each repetition.

If you have a weak or underdeveloped upper chest this exercise is a great way to develop your upper chest.

#4 – Alternating Dumbbell Press

The alternating dumbbell press is the perfect way to switch up your dumbbell press training. Rather than bring both dumbbells down and pushing up you will keep one dumbbell held up and stabilized above your chest as you bring the other dumbbell down and push up for one rep.

In this exercise one pectoral isn’t going to rely on the other pectoral to push the weight up and away from your body. By performing the alternating movement with the dumbbells you are isolating your chest strength within each muscle. If you have any weakness in one pectoral versus the other the alternating press allows you to isolate each pectoral with the movement and help strengthen those weaknesses.

Use a weight you can control for 10-12 reps. You don’t want to be using your back and shoulder and twisting your body in an attempt to throw the weight up with your entire your body. Control the weight up and down with your arm and chest so you can feel the squeeze in each pectoral individually.

#5 – Push-ups

Push UpsThe push-up always seems to find its way to the bottom of the list of exercises you would think about performing for building a big, strong chest, but it should not be ignore. The push-up is one of the fundamental exercises for developing your pecs. Before there were barbells, dumbbells, and hammer strength machines you had the push-up.

It’s so simple yet so effective because you can do it anywhere, anytime, and supplement it with any exercise as a superset.

Adding a high rep, low rest push-up session at the beginning or end of your workout is a great way to warm up the chest or get a final squeeze of the muscle before leaving the gym.

Ramp Up Your Chest Routine

Adding new exercises into your lifting routine is crucial for muscle development and allows you to keep your training new and exciting. Performing a lift at a different angle or in a different stance may hit a particular muscle group better on your body then it does with someone else.
It’s important to try new exercises so you can dial in your routine and what exercises work best for developing your muscles in the way you want them too.

So, on your next chest day switch it up, try one or two of these exercises, and celebrate #InternationalChestDay with something new.

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Name: Brently Rousset

Bio: Born, raised, and currently residing in beautiful San Diego, CA, I've been around some form of fitness almost my entire life. My mom was an aerobics teacher at the local gym when I was in elementary school through middle school. My dad had a full home gym in the garage and raced mountain bikes professionally through my high school years. My parents engrained the importance of health and fitness into me from a young age. I started playing soccer in my elementary days only to leave it behind for my true loves of basketball and surfing.