The Best Chest Exercises for Men

As the years pass, most of us have likely resigned ourselves to the fact that we don’t (or won’t) have the physique that we once did. Whether we were athletes in our youth or just benefited from a higher metabolism, no guy wants to stand in front of the mirror and see man boobs, or “moobs” for short. Lowered hormone levels, hours relegated to a desk, and of course globally forced gym closures can often contribute to declining musculature. 

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In addition to a strong abdominal physique, a well sculpted chest can often improve overall health and the ability to perform even daily tasks with greater ease. The pectoralis major, or more commonly referred to as just pecs, makes up the largest portion of the chest muscles. There’s not a guy among us that hasn’t imagined himself running down the beach in slow motion like a scene out of Baywatch or performing the “pec-pop of love.” (Did you get both of the Dwayne Johnson references?)

And while the pandemic has likely reduced our gym time for the better part of this year, it is still possible to reclaim those pecs with a few targeted exercises done from the safety of your home. With limited equipment needed, here are 5 exercises to help build a well-defined chest. 

Push-up

pushups 2020
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Equipment Needed: None

This classic exercise is perfect as it is easy to do at home or on the road while traveling.

Here’s how to do it:

The push-up can be done with variations based on the width of your hands. For starters, begin high in the push-up position with your arms slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your core tight and your body straight. Lower your body toward the ground until your chest almost touches the ground and push back up to starting position. That’s one rep. 

For a tougher variation, bring your hands in until they are directly under your shoulders. Lower and repeat. If you’re still looking for more, bring your hands closer together, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers touching the other hands.

If you’re new to a push-up regimen, start with a realistic number and do 3-4 sets of that number. Add to that number while doing the exercise regularly. 

Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press
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Equipment Needed: Bench and set of Dumbbells 

Here’s how to do it:

Lie flat on a bench. You can also use an ottoman or an inflatable exercise ball. With a dumbbell in each hand, hold the weights at shoulder level and press the weights straight up and slowly lower back to starting position. That’s one rep. 

Variation: If you have a bench that inclines, adjust it to an angle that is roughly 30-45 degrees. Lying back on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and at shoulder level, press the weights up over your chest. 

Dumbbell Fly

Dumbbell Fly
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Equipment Needed: Bench and set of Dumbbells

Here’s how to do it:

Lie with your back flat on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet resting on the floor. With a slight bend in your elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells until they are even with your chest. Use care so that you don’t overstretch and drop below your chest. With pecs flexed, return to the starting position. Consider starting with lightweight dumbbells and concentrate on form when beginning.

Variations: This can also be done on an inflatable exercise ball instead of a bench. Flys done on an incline bench target the upper portion of the pecs.

Pullover

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Equipment Needed: One dumbbell or medicine ball

Here’s how to do it:

Lie on the floor and hold a single dumbbell (or medicine ball) over your chest with both hands. Lower the weight back over your head (only slightly bending elbows) until you can feel a slight stretch in your latissimus dorsi (more commonly referred to as “lats”). Then, pull the dumbbell back over your head and return to the starting position. This is one rep. Start with low weight and gradually increase.

Floor Press

Floor Press

Equipment Needed: Set of Dumbbells 

Here’s how to do it:

Lie on the floor (you can use a mat if you have one) with a dumbbell in each hand. With your palms facing one another and your triceps resting on the floor, press the dumbbells up. Slowly lower them until only your triceps are resting once again on the floor. This is one rep. Gradually increase the weight with subsequent sets for best results.

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