The chest exercises you are doing should consist of compound exercises like bench press and dips.
Not those little isolation exercises like pec deck or dumbbell flyes.
Isolation exercises for the chest are almost worthless compared to the big compound weight lifting exercises.
You need to overload a muscle in order to apply the proper muscle building stimulus.
The best way to do that is to use heavy weights and continue to increase the weight each workout. As you increase the weight, you overload the muscle even more and muscle is built.
The WLC System explains exactly how to build muscle and strength.
Getting Something Off My Chest
I need to get something off of my “chest” before I go any further. I read an article today that had to be the most shocking thing I have ever read…
My mouth was hanging open while reading it. The article tells weight lifters that compound exercises will not build you muscle better than isolation exercises.
I thought the guy was joking, but he was serious. He was saying that since an isolation exercise puts most of the stress on the muscle you want that it will build bigger muscles no matter how much more weight you can lift with the compound exercises.
His recommendation was not to do compound exercises. To him, leg extensions will build bigger quads than squats.
He said dumbell flyes are better at building your chest than any bench press exercise. Ha ha ha. Please don't choose dumbell flyes as one of your chest exercises.
This is the kind of stupid information being given out to people and those who don't know better just get more confused.
I bet we could take twins that are built exactly the same with the exact genetics. I would have them both on the same muscle building diet eating exactly the same.
I would have one twin do bench press for 6 months and go from lifting 135 pounds for 10 reps to lifting 225 for 10 reps. The other twin will do dumbell flyes and go from doing 25 pound dumbells for 10 reps to doing 50 pound dumbells for 10 reps.
I will guarantee that the twin who is doing bench press will have a much larger chest along with much larger shoulders and arms. And that is only after 6 months.
Bench press variations or dips should be your choice for one of your chest exercises. Please read everything on this site so you don't listen to any of those clowns out there on the internet who have no idea what they are talking about.
Incline Barbell Bench Press
My experience with Incline Barbell Bench Press
I love incline bench press variations for building your chest. Incline bench has a lesser chance of injury (in my opinion) than a flat bench press due to the different position of your shoulders.
I've known too many people that have torn their chest muscles while doing flat bench press and have shoulder problems from doing flat bench press. I still have some shoulder issues when attempting a flat barbell bench press especially in my left shoulder.
Why take a chance? Even a slight incline is so much better than a flat bench and you'll still be able to lift a similar amount of weight.
I love the bench press for building your chest because a bench press allows you to use more weight than any of the other chest exercises. Why do other exercises that use so much less weight?
Nothing will build you a better looking chest than the incline bench press. I am sorry to those who like flyes, but why would you do flyes on the WLC program?
If you say because of the stretch that flyes give you, I would have to disagree because we are going to be stretching your chest much better during the weighted stretching portion of the program.
So why choose an inferior exercise like the fly? I hope you are smart and choose a version of the bench press.
How to Perform Incline Barbell Bench Press
Set your bench to an incline position. The barbell should be placed in the power rack at the proper height. You should only have to slightly bend your arms to place them on the barbell.
This helps when unracking the bar because you only have to straighten your arms to lift the weight. Space your hands to the most comfortable position for you. I like slightly wider than shoulder width.
After unracking the bar, you should fully extend your arms to the starting position. This is where each rep will start and end.
Lower the bar slowly from the top position all the way to the bottom. Make sure that the bar touches your chest before returning to the top position. Do not bounce the bar off of your chest. Decrease the weight if you can't do the reps properly. You can even pause after the bar touches your chest to ensure you're doing the reps properly. Explode from the bottom position to the top.
Video of the Incline Barbell Bench Press
Incline Dumbell Bench Press
My experience with Incline Dumbell Bench Press
The dumbell incline bench press version is a favorite of mine because of the different positions you can place the dumbells. I had wrist problems for a while when attempting to do barbell bench press even when gripping the bar so that my wrists were straight. I had tweaked my wrists while doing another exercise. Well, the dumbell incline bench came to my rescue.
I started holding the dumbells with a parallel grip so I didn't put my vulnerable wrists in a bad position. No pain at all! I continued using dumbells for a few years and progressed the entire time because I loved doing the bench press with dumbells.
I've got a method that will help you get heavy dumbells into position. Heavy is relative to each individual so this should help many people that do not already know this method. Pick your dumbells up from a rack or from the floor. Walk over to the bench and sit down while placing the dumbells vertically on top of your legs by your knees. As you lean back to get into the bench press position, push the dumbells into position with your legs.
As you get better at this, getting dumbells into position is very easy and it doesn't take much of your energy. This is the easiest method that I know of. I've also purchased power hooks, but I really cannot stand them and find them of no use. I think the method of kicking them into place with your legs is much easier.
You will be able to use heavy weight on dumbell bench press exercises. Some people, including me, are almost as strong with dumbells as they are with a barbell. I never liked the barbell bench press as much as dumbells. You can try rotating the dumbells on the way up or keeping them parallel along with many other methods. A barbell doesn't give you that option.
You don't need a spotter with dumbells. You work each side of your body independently. There are just so many benefits of using dumbells for your chest exercises. Definitely give them a try if you haven't. Try different inclines too. I like doing them with the lowest incline possible to get more chest work and less shoulder work. The higher you go, the more shoulder involvement.
How to Perform Incline Dumbell Bench Press
Set your bench to an incline position. Get your dumbells ready by placing one on each of your legs as shown. From this position, we will kick them into place as we lean back onto the bench. Be careful using this method and practice with smaller weights before using large weights.
As you lay down onto the bench, kick the dumbells into place and get them into position for lifting. You should be in the bottom position as shown. This is where each rep will begin and end with dumbells.
From the bottom position, explode to the top position as shown. You can bring the dumbells together if you want to get a better contraction. You can also use different dumbell positions or rotate the dumbells on the way up. The video will show this.
Video of the Incline Dumbell Bench Press
Parallel Dips with Forward Lean
My Experience with Parallel Dips
Parallel Dips are a great exercise for your chest. Your lower chest will be screaming after you do a tough set of this exercise. The forward lean will work your chest more than an upright lean. Straight up takes less stress off of your chest and places it on your triceps. Your chest still gets worked hard with any version of the dip, but we will be doing a forward lean for a chest exercise.
Dips may be tough for you at first with only your bodyweight. If you continue working on them, though, you will be able to start adding weight before you know it. I like to use the hip belt for attaching extra weight. I want you to warm up well before doing these. These put a lot of stress on your upper body and you should always be warmed up before doing these. I like doing this chest exercise towards the end of my workout so I ensure I am warmed up.
Many people like to call Dips the upper body squat. I agree! I like to add Dips in as a Triceps exercise, but if your chest is lagging you should think about making forward lean dips your triceps exercise.
How to Perform Parallel Dips
You will need a dip stand to do this exercise or any type of parallel bars that will support the amount of weight you will be using. All you have to do is grab the bars and suppurt your weight as shown. I like to cross my legs and lean forward to get into position for this chest exercise.
I slowly lower myself until my arms are bent perpendicular at the elbow as shown. If you can imagine from the picture how much my chest is being stretched in the front at this bottom position. From the bottom, I explode upwards thru the palms of my hands all the way to the top position.
Video of Parallel Dips
Is That It? No Other Chest Exercises?
Believe it or not, those are the only chest exercises I've ever used and my chest is one of my strengths. I've only used a few chest machines in my life and that was when I first started lifting weights and was only for a brief period of time.
I know people that love certain bench press machines and can do a large amount of weight on those machines. If you like using a machine and progress well on the machine, then don't be scared to choose it as one of your chest exercises.
As you may know, though, I prefer free weights over anything else. I don't think you'll need any other chest exercises than the ones I listed here to develop the chest you want.
I've given you three 5 star exercises here. Don't fall into the trap of using all those isolation exercises like flyes and pec deck. I did at first and let others tell my those were all I needed for chest exercises. They are useless compared to the ones I've listed. Useless.