One of the benefits of resistance training is its aesthetic effects on your body. What are some exercises that will give you a wider chest?
The way you build a wider chest is by building more chest muscle in general. The exercises below often require some chest workout equipment although there is also a zero equipment exercise to start with.
The best weights for these exercises for a wider chest vary from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure how much weight would be right for you, you can start with light weights and slowly build up from there.
Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
1. Dumbbell chest fly
For this first exercise you will need a surface to lie on, preferably a weight bench, and a type of one-handed resistance, for example dumbbells. To do a chest fly with dumbbells on a weight bench take the following steps:
- Lie down with your back on a weight bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keep your arms with the dumbbells slightly less than stretched and pointing up. Your hand palms should face each other and your hands should be as close together as possible.
- While keeping your arms slightly less than stretched slowly lower the dumbbells down sideways until your arms are about horizontally to the ground.
- Move your arms back to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.
If you have a good FID weight bench (flat, incline, decline), you can do this chest exercise at different angles to change what part of your chest muscles you mainly focus on.
A dumbbell chest fly on an incline weight bench targets your upper chest muscles more. The same exercise on a decline bench focuses more on your lower chest muscles.
All three variations can help you grow wider chest muscles.
2. Bench press
The bench press is one of the most popular resistance training exercises. For this exercise, you will need a weight bench, a barbell, and a barbell rack. To do a barbell bench press take the following steps:
- Load up the barbell in the rack with the desired weight.
- Lie down with your back on the weight bench and place your hands with an overhanded grip on the barbell at about shoulder width.
- Unrack the barbell and keep your arms slightly less than stretched and pointing up.
- Slowly lower the barbell to your chest. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Push the barbell back up in the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.
Similar to the chest fly you can change up the angle of the bench press to focus on different areas of your chest.
It is also possible to do bench presses with free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, etc., and machines like the cable machine, smith machine, and chest press machine.
Pushups are an extremely popular bodyweight compound exercise you can use to build a wider chest at home or in the gym. To do a pushup take the following steps:
- Get into the position where your face is facing the floor with your hand palms on the ground. Your arms are stretched and your knees are on the ground.
- Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line.
- Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the ground. Your arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
- Stretch your arms again until you are back in a straight arm plank position.
For many people bodyweight pushups are already challenging enough but you can also use extra weights like a weighted vest or weight plate to make them more challenging.
You can also do one of the many pushup variations to focus on slightly different muscles.
4. Cable crossover
For this next exercise you need a cable machine with two pulleys and single-grip handles. Once you have these to do a cable crossover take the following steps:
- Grab 1 handle, walk towards the other handle and grab it with the other hand. Stand in the middle between the two cables.
- Put one foot a small distance backward and the other foot forward for balance. Slightly tilt your upper body forward while keeping your back straight. Keep your arms slightly less than extended throughout the exercise.
- Slowly bring your hands to the center, instead of stopping when right before they touch each other you let one arm go above the other to go a little further.
- Slowly go back to starting position.
- When doing multiple repetitions switch between which arm goes above.
The cable crossover is a great exercise to train your chest muscles. If you want to focus more on your lower chest muscles you want to really go from a high to low position with your hands.
One of the benefits of the cable crossover is that you can go through a slightly bigger range of motion compared to the chest fly. A downside is that you are standing up.
This makes it easier to use the rest of your body instead of your chest muscles to move the weights. In turn, this can lead to less and slower chest muscle gain.
5. Pec deck
The pec deck is a gym machine where you sit up straight with your arms folded and your upper arms behind pads. To do the exercise you then push these pads toward each other engaging your chest muscles in the process.
The motion of this machine is similar to the chest fly machine but they are not exactly the same. Your arms start stretched out to the side with the chest fly machine instead of folded like with the pec deck machine.
The pec deck can be a great gym machine option to grow a wider chest. One of its benefits is that you are seated and go through a fixed range of motion. This allows you to focus less on balancing and technique and more on growing your chest as much as possible.
6. Lower chest dip
The dip exercise mainly helps you train your triceps if you keep your body straight, but also your lower chest if you tilt your upper body forward. You will need dip bars for this chest exercise. To do a lower chest dip take the following steps:
- Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position. You will likely need to step-ups to get into this position. Your upper body should slightly tilt forward.
- Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until these are at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise yourself back up again into starting position in a controlled motion.
For most people regular dips are already more than challenging enough. Doing weighted dips with dumbbells, a dip belt, a weighted vest, or ankle weights is generally for individuals more experienced with resistance training.
7. Dumbbell pullover
For the dumbbell pullover you preferably want a dumbbell and a weight bench. Similar weights and a similar surface to lie on can work too. Once you have these, take the following steps to do a dumbbell pullover:
- Lie on a weight bench with your head on the end of the bench. Hold a dumbbell on your chest.
- Grab one end of the dumbbell with both of your hands with your hand palms pointing upward. Extend your arms upward until they are slightly less than stretched and point them up.
- Slowly move back your arms as far as comfortable. Keep your elbows close to the center, not pointing outward. Your arms stay slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Move your arms back to the position in step 3 in a controlled motion.
The dumbbell pullover will mainly focus on your lower chest muscles but this exercise can definitely still help you grow a wider chest.
Keep in mind that this exercise can also focus on your latissimus dorsi back muscle instead of your chest if you do them in a certain way. Make sure you keep your elbows close to the center to focus on your chest.