For anyone trying to build upper body strength, the chest press is probably going to be one of their go to exercises. It’s considered one of the best chest exercises overall and it’s a great way to work on your biceps, pectorals, and shoulder muscles.
It can be used in conjunction with dips, the pec deck, and cable crossovers to build up chest strength. What the chest press does for you is target muscle tissue building and strength development while working biceps, serratus anterior, pectorals, triceps, and deltoids. How effective it is for you will depend on how often you do it, your intensity, and your form.
If you’re familiar with the chess press, you might wonder how anyone can mess it up, but like any exercise there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. What happens when you do the chest presses improperly? You can put yourself at risk for injury and you can also miss out on some of the great benefits it’s supposed to be providing for you.
By using the chest press regularly in your exercise routines, you benefit through how it assists you with all sorts of everyday activities. It helps when you do any kind of pushing, like opening large doors, pushing shopping carts, or other activities that take any sort of exertion. It helps in different kinds of sports as well, as the chest press is useful for building strength used in swimming, baseball, football, badminton, and tennis.
You’ll enjoy long term benefits as well, like better bones strength. Your bones will be less likely to break or become brittle. It also improves your endurance and fitness level. You’ll be able to push yourself harder to work out for longer before you become tired. This exercise can also improve your mental health, helping you to feel better about yourself and to be mentally stronger.
Of course, regular exercise that includes the chest press will help you to burn calories, and a regular exercise routine enables you to burn calories even when you’re not engaged in physical activity. You will burn fat as you develop muscle, helping you to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals and giving you the kind of body you can be proud of.
How to Do Dumbbell Chest Press
There are a couple different ways you can do the chest press, and I want to start by showing you the dumbbell chest press. For this, you’ll need an exercise bench and a dumbbell for each hand. The dumbbells should be of the same weight and should be of a weight that you can handle easily.
Start by lying on the bench on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells out to the side of your shoulders. If you’re holding the dumbbells correctly, your palms should be facing to your feet. Anyone who has weak shoulders or some kind of shoulder issue may want to use a neutral grip and have their palms faced toward one another.
Extend your elbows and press the weights over your chest, extending until your arms have straightened. From there, return the weights slowly back down. The dumbbell weights will give you a greater range of motion than you get with a barbell. You can take advantage of that by bringing them down beyond your shoulders and then bringing your hands and the dumbbells close together when you’re at the top of the chest press movement. Don’t let them touch when you’re at the peak of this exercise, though, as that will reduce strain on your shoulders and rob you of some of the benefits of the chest press.
This is how to do a dumbbell chest press, and you may want to watch a video to make sure your form is correct. If you can watch yourself in a mirror or have someone record you, you can compare yourself to a video of someone doing the chest press to see if your form is correct.
How to Do Incline Chest Press
I want to share with you another chest press method known as the incline chest press. This one requires an incline bench, so you may not be able to do it at home. With this particular version of the chest press, you will be targeting the shoulders and upper pectoral muscles. It also reduces strain placed on the rotator cuffs, so there are definite benefits to using this version instead of the traditional chest press.
You may want to use a lower weight for this kind of chest press than you would for the conventional one. That’s because it puts a lot of focus on your shoulders and requires them to carry much of the load. Most people have weaker shoulders than chest muscles, so they may need to decrease their weight load to compensate.
The entire pectoral muscle group is not being worked with this exercise, so that is something to keep in mind as well. It is a good idea to allow your shoulders time to rest the next day after doing this exercise. The strain they could place on your shoulders could mean you need extra time to recuperate.
In order to do this chest press variation, you need to grip the barbell in such a way that your elbows create a 90-degree angle. Your grip should be about a shoulder width apart and your fingers should be wrapped over the bar with palms away from you. You want to lift the bar off the rack and extend it straight up over your head and lock your arms, and then bring the barbell back down.
How to Do Chest Press with Barbell
The positioning is important for this exercise. You want to be lying flat in your back on a bench with the barbell placed on the bench rack or in your hands at your chest. You can start with the barbell at your chest or on the rack.
Your grip on the barbell should be about a shoulder width apart with your palms facing away from you. Holding that position with the proper grip, push the barbell up away from you, straight into the air until your arms lock. Then return it down to the starting position. If you started with the barbell on the rack, then the first rep should end with the barbell just over your chest. From that position, you can more easily do a series of 10 reps, or however many you want to do.
Now you know how to do a chest press in a few different ways. Whether you use a barbell, dumbbells, or an incline bench, you can do the chest press with the proper form. This ensures that you get all the benefits from this exercise and that you are at very low risk for injuring yourself.
Tips to Keep in Mind
To help with balance or strength, you may want to use a raised platform that’s been placed under your feet.
Make sure your spine remains flat as you do this exercise and ensure that you do not arch your lower back as you lift. This will help you to have the proper form and put the strain and weight where it’s supposed to be on your body.
As you do this exercise, your feet should be pressed down firmly onto a platform or the floor.
The entire time you do this exercise, your shoulders, head, and buttocks should be pressed into bench.
Your wrists should be kept neutral to prevent them from bending in any direction.
If you would like to target your pectorals as you do the chest press, extend your elbows away from your body as you lift.
If you would like to target your triceps, pull your elbows in close to you, keeping them near your sides as you lift.