6 Top Exercises for Muscle Building and Strength

6 Top Exercises for Muscle Building and Strength

  • Pin press and floor pressing are chest exercises that can help build strength and mass.
  • You can also do some plyo or deficit push-ups, or just stick to regular push ups.
  • For chest strengthening, you can also do dumbbell pullovers and chest flies.
  • Get more advice at Insider’s Health Reference Library.

Regular exercise is an important part of maintaining muscle strength. According to the, the chest muscles need to be strengthened. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This mix of exercises will help you build and strengthen your muscles. Kern AlexanderFounder ofPersonal trainers of the highest quality

Alexander says men are often looking to increase their muscle mass. However, this exercise can also help women tighten and lift their breasts. 

Key chest muscles

The chest muscles include:

  • The pectoralis majorThe largest chest muscle. It has a fan-shaped shape and runs across the upper chest from the clavicle, (collarbone), to the sternum, ribs and attaches to a portion of the humerus, (upper arm bone). It assists the shoulders and arms to move and turn.
  • The pectoralis minorIt is smaller and lies below the pectoralis minor. It extends from your ribs to the shoulder blade.
  • The serratus anteriorIt is a thin muscle that runs from the first to eighth of the ribs to your scapula. It helps pull the scapula forward when you throw a punch.
  • The subclaviusIt is a small muscle attached to the first rib, the clavicle and helps stabilize the clavicle.

6 chest exercises

Alexander recommends that these exercises be done two to three times per semaine, with at minimum one day rest between. Depending on where you are at the beginning, how quickly you see results will determine how fast. Alexander says that although a beginner might notice visible improvements in their chest muscles after six weeks of training, someone who has been exercising regularly will see more rapid results. 

Alexander says these exercises will help increase your strength very quickly. Alexander says that you might feel a little shaky or unstable the first time you try these exercises. But, this will quickly change once you get used to them.  

Depending on your priority, the number of reps that you do will determine how strong or weaker you are. Alexander states that 10-15 reps is ideal to build muscle. But, for strength building, Alexander suggests 4-5 reps with heavier loads. 

You can do the following chest exercises in any order: Three to four sets 

1. Pin press 

This is an alternate to the bench press. 

Equipment:Bench, barbell and either safety bars or movable pins for the bench press stand.

How to do this: 

  1. You can set up the barbell by using pins on the stand, safety bars/rails or the bench press stand to ensure that the bar rests right above your chest while you lie on your back on the benches.
  2. Place the barbell at the top of the stand, so that you can lay down on the bench.
  3. Place your hands on the bar and lie down.
  4. You can press the weight until your arms straighten.
  5. You can lower it until it rests on safety bars or pins.
  6. Allow it to rest briefly before you lift again. 

Tempo:3-3-3-3-3 (3 seconds to lower the weight, 3 seconds to rest it at the bottom, 3 seconds to lift it, 3 seconds to pause at top). 

Quick tipYour experience and your body weight are important factors in determining how much weight you should use. 

Women, for example, are more inclined to haveWe have less muscle mass and more fatWomen are less likely to get pinched than men. Alexander states that women should begin with a minimum of 40% to 50% of the body weight in order to pin press. Men can use about 90%. 

A 150-pound woman should lift between 60 to 75 pounds and a 200-pound man can lift 180 pounds.

“Generally, doing warm-up sets before your working sets is a great way to prime the targeted muscles and gauge the weight you should use for your working sets,”He says. 

If you are doing exercises that focus on building muscle, you should use a weight with which you can do 10 to 15 repetitions. Then, you could do 2 additional reps. 

2. Floor press

This is a variant of the bench pressing that does not require a bench. 

Equipment: Dumbbells

How to do this: 

  1. Place your back on the ground.
  2. With one dumbbell in each of your hands, bend your elbows and place your triceps on the ground. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle to your body.
  3. Keep your wrists straight above your elbows.
  4. Push your arms up so that they are straight and bring the dumbbells to an abrupt halt at the top.
  5. The dumbbells should be over your shoulders at the top.
  6. Reduce the weights and lower your elbows.
  7. Before you continue, pause at the bottom. 

Tempo: 4-2-4-2 (4 second to lower, 2 seconds rest the weight at bottom, 4 to lift and 2 seconds to pause at high) 

Alexander suggests that lifting weights from a dead stop with both the floor press and pin press is a great way to build strength. 

3. Push-ups for the Plyo

Equipment: None

How to do this: 

  1. You can start by laying down on your back in a push-up or plank position. Your arms should be straight.
  2. Keep your elbows bent and your head down towards the ground.
  3. Push up vigorously until your hands touch the ground at push-up.
  4. When your hands are raised at the top of the movement you can clap your hands together if desired.
  5. For shock absorption, you should place your hands at the top position of push-ups.
  6. Slowly lower your back. 

Tempo: 4-1-1-1 (4 second delay to lower, 1 second to push as fast and as powerfully as you can, and 1 second to reach the top 

Alexander says that this exercise is great for athletes with explosive power in the chest, such as boxers. 

Modification:Alexander advises that even if you’re not strong enough to push the entire way off the ground, you can still do regular pushups. Alexander suggests pushing up as fast and slowing lowering the body. 

4. Deficit push-up

Equipment: Dumbbells and yoga blocks

How to do this: 

  1. Place your hands on the ground and get down on your knees.
  2. Place the yoga or dumbbells along the floor near your hands.
  3. You can either place your hands on top the yoga blocks or grab the barbell handles.
  4. Place your hands on the floor and hold onto them. Props should not be wobbly, but stable.
  5. Keep your chest lower than your hands and lower your head. 
  6. Instead of allowing your shoulders to roll toward your ears, try squeezing them together at the bottom.
  7. Keep going.
  8. Your core and glutes should be tight so your body remains in one line while you push up and down. Make sure your chest is not higher than your hips. 

Tempo: 4-2-4-2 (4 seconds to lower and 2 seconds to pause on the bottom, 4 push up and 2 to stop at the top). 

Alexander says this exercise is better for building muscle than standard pushups. 

Modifications:Alexander suggests that if you are unable to do regular pushups, you can put your hands on something higher than the ground, such as a bench, or bed. Then, do regular pushups instead. When you become more comfortable doing regular push-ups, you can start to do deficit or plyo push ups. 

To make push-ups easier or harder, you can use bands. Wrap the band around your waist, hips, and attach it to a belt. This will make push-ups easier.


Pull-up bar

The band will help you get up higher. Be sure to not let the band make you bend at the waist. 

Alexander states that if you can manage 20 push-ups quickly, you can add bands to make them harder. You can use a loop to help you do push-ups. Place one hand in one loop band and wrap it around your back. Pushing up on the band will create more resistance. 

5. Chest fly

Equipment: Bench, dumbbells

How to do this: 

  1. Place your back on the bench.
  2. Keep a dumbbell in each of your hands.
  3. Start by placing dumbbells over your chest and bending your elbows slightly.
  4. Spread your arms outward and keep your elbows slightly bent.
  5. Your chest will feel stretched. Instead of shrugging upwards, make sure your shoulder blades are straightened and pointing down towards your rear.
  6. Start lifting your arms as far as possible.
  7. Keep going until the dumbbells are above your chest at the top. It will feel as if gravity is pushing down on the dumbbells from the sides. Your chest will remain engaged and the dumbbells will appear to be a little further away. 

Tempo: 4-2-4-2 (4 seconds to lower and 2 to pause on the bottom, 4 push up and 2 to stop at the top).

Although this exercise can help build muscle, you shouldn’t put on too much weight. Alexander recommends that the ideal weight for an average person is 15-20 pounds. But, Alexander also suggests that someone with advanced fitness should not exceed 35-45lbs. 

6. Pullovers with dumbbells

Equipment: Bench, one dumbbell

How to do this: 

  1. Place your hands on the benches and lean back.
  2. Place your feet flatten on the ground and your knees bent. Then, place your hips on the bench and rest your head, upper back, and shoulders on the bench.
  3. Your hips should be lower than your shoulders.
  4. You will hold one dumbbell vertically in your hands. Hold the top end in triangle position with your fingers.
  5. With your arms extended, wrap your fingers around the top edge of the dumbbell.
  6. The dumbbell should be raised above your head. Bend your elbows to point them towards the ceiling.
  7. You can reach as far back as you like. Your chest will stretch. 
  8. Keep the dumbbell in your hands and lift it up over your head.
  9. Throughout the exercise, be sure to keep your elbows relaxed and not locked. 

Tempo: 4-2-4-2 (4 seconds to lower and 2 to pause on the bottom, 4 push up and 2 to stop at the top). 

As you get used to these exercises, you should gradually increase the weight used or number of reps — a concept called progressive overload that’s important in building muscle and strength, Alexander says. 

Insider’s takeaway

You need to balance your muscles so you don’t have weak back muscles and strong chest muscles. 

“Balance is important to maintaining good posture, healthy joints, and healthy range of motion,” Alexander says. Alexander says that if your muscles are not in balance, it can cause you to move inefficiently. This can also lead to injury. For good measure, add core, back, or hamstring exercises.

These exercises can be done at your own pace. Don’t rush. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It’s you versus you. Just be consistent, put in the time, and you’ll get there,” Alexander says.

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