The ONLY 3 Chest Exercises You Need (CHISELED PECS!)

If you want to build a chiseled chest then the only 3 chest exercises you need are shown in this video. The focus here is not necessarily on building the strongest or biggest chest but rather on chiseled pecs that are full from the bottom to the top. We are going to hit the upper pecs, lower pecs and middle pecs through three carefully selected chest exercises.

We start as always with a little bit of anatomy. We know that while it is impossible to isolate and contract only one head of the chest over the others, it is possible to influence the fiber activation given the different orientation of the muscle fibers in each of the three heads of the pec muscle. The upper chest fibers run towards the clavicle and respond best to motions that bring the arm from a low and away position to one up and in. The abdominal head fibers of the lower chest respond best to movements that bring the arm from a high and away position to one down and in. The sternal pec fibers are activated best through arms that bring the arm straight across the chest.

When selecting the only 3 chest exercises we start with the most basic of exercises, the bench press. However, instead of using the classic flat bench press version we choose the incline bench press. There is a good reason for this. Science shows that a slight 30 degree incline on the bench is best to not only hit the upper pec fibers the best while minimizing the dominance of the front delts but that it also hits the sternal portion of the chest hard as well.

The arms move from the low and away position to one up and in when performing the exercise this way. The use of dumbbells also allows the hands to travel a little closer to each other at the top to achieve more adduction of the arms rather than what happens when they are fixed in place on a barbell during a barbell bench press.

Even though you lose some of the tension on resisted adduction at the top of the rep, you still get more overall adduction resistance during the dumbbell variation of the bench press than you do with the barbell version.

Next we move to a lower chest exercise that hits the bottom part of the pecs hard. This time, it’s the high to low crossover that is our exercise of choice. This is best performed with a set of cables but it can also be done as a chest resistance band exercise. Here you want to make sure that you are bringing the arms down and across your chest on every rep. Many less informed trainers advise you to stop your arms at midline. Given that they don’t understand the anatomy and function of the chest muscles this is understandable, but still not right. In order to maximize chest contraction you want to cross your arms over each other in order to allow for a greater excursion into adduction and get better chest development.

Finally, we move onto the third and final exercise for chest to build a complete set of pecs. This one is the pullover. Now, I know what you might be thinking. The pullover is a back exercise that doesn’t work the chest. That’s not accurate. While the pullover is a great back and lat developer it can also hit the chest hard if you perform it the right way. It has to do with how you do the exercise as always.

Instead of flaring the elbows out to the sides and keeping the dumbbell close to the head (which would place the brunt of the workload on the lats) you want to straighten the arms as much as possible. The finish position of the dumbbell over the chest is the same as it would be at the end of an incline bench press. With the arms held relatively high (above the shoulders) you get the flexion of the shoulder that targets the upper pecs and minimizes the lats.

The other thing you want to do here is think about squeezing the backs of your hands together as the dumbbell approaches the end of each rep. This will further adduct your hands which will create a more intense upper chest contraction.

Finally, you can also use this exercise for chest to develop the serratus muscle. This often overlooked muscle acts as a support muscle for the lower chest and, when developed, gives that complete aesthetic look to the pecs that rounds out your complete chest development.

If you are looking for a complete workout program for building a big chest while developing ripped athletic muscle throughout your entire body, be sure to visit via the link below and use the program selector tool to find the plan that is best suited to your current goals.

For more chest workouts and exercises for chest to build bigger pecs, be sure to remember to subscribe to our channel here on youtube via the link below and remember to turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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45 thoughts on “The ONLY 3 Chest Exercises You Need (CHISELED PECS!)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY* – Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached!

    If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

  2. Mirwais Zekrya says:

    Love this series focusing on the aesthetic side of things on this channel. I love the pull over so very glad there is some rationale for including it for aesthetics

  3. Röhrich Oak says:

    I have a hunch no matter how good Jesse’s date turned out, if he was wearing that AthleanX merch on that day it would have been even better

  4. ArsnikRC says:

    I’ve undergone Physical Therapy from a Low Back Injury in early 2021. Subscribing to your videos and Implementing a lot of your recommendations has had a huge impact in my recovery! Between healthy eating and workouts, I’m getting to be in the best shape of my life at 41. Much thanks Jeff!

    • Carlos Ornelas says:

      @Alexander Dolle thank you for taking time to respond. Ive been stretching n doing yoga since January definitely helps but unfortunately i cant get rid of the pain.

    • ArsnikRC says:

      @Carlos Ornelas I required MRI due to 2 herniated discs. You could have disc herniations or bulges or pinched nerves that would not show in an X-ray. They also found that I am suffering from Degenerative Disc Disease. As noted above, stretching is key, and should be done every morning before you start your day and again in the evening. I have been taking Pure Encapsulations Glucosamine Complex and a Turmeric/Boswellia combo for a natural anti-inflammatory. I lost 12 lbs of fat and have managed to gain back 5lbs of muscle. I work my Abs (mostly planks & crunches) and Low Back (Bird Dogs & Fire Hydrants with ankle weight cuffs). I’ve found that a lot of my low back pain was exacerbated by weak glutes, hip flexors, etc and gets flared up from tight calves and Piriformis muscles. An impact massage Gun has helped with that too.

      Stretch & work on strengthening the core, low back and hips. I typically work my core 3 days a week due to limitations, and usually have to work through some pain. I use heat before stretching and ice after workouts. I use a stretch strap to really get good stretching of the sciatic and leg muscles.

      Obviously avoid impact exercises as they only inflame the low back.

      I had to sell my kayak earlier this year and have had to accept some lifestyle changes to accommodate my injury, but staying focused on my recovery and accepting there will be good days and bad days.

      Wish you the best bro.

    • Carlos Ornelas says:

      @ArsnikRC Man god bless you! Taking time to help me so much appreciated man! Yea Dr told me was arthritis at this point im lost. Ive started lifting weights squating deadlifts when i can core glute excercises ill just focus more on my core glutes n hamstrings i guess. Ill see if something helps with inflammation. Thank you again for helping a stranger. Hope you heal yourself soon man!!

    • Barquero Juan Carlos says:

      @Alexander Dolle … Yes, i always ended up with lower back pains, within days or weeks after starting to exercise. It was frustrating. i even went to a physician, once, and he only gave me hypodermic injection with muscle pain killer, but because he misdirected the injection and directly hit the nerve, I have a certain numbness that never goes away. It’s not serious, but he did destroy a small portion of the nerve. It’s just a nuisance if I allow myself to dwell on it. …. Then, i began doing the cobra pose, holding top position for a few seconds once a day. That’s all it and never had lower back pain since. It’s too bad physicians don’t learn a bit of yoga in med school

    • Carlos Ornelas says:

      @Barquero Juan Carlos thats great news man. Congratulations there’s no better feeling than being pain free n able to do what you like.

    • G. Deyanov says:

      @The world is immense there is no middle chest. You have the lower chest (this is what you mainly train with the high to low crossover and flat bench press) and your upper chest (which is what you train more on an incline, low to high crossovers, those pullovers and any other exercise where your follow the fibers from low to high) there is no middle, inner or any otger type of muscle on your chest.

    • G. Deyanov says:

      @Avnish Ranjan it will work it, but it is a very dangerous exercise. Stick to the normal bench press, it is the best anyway.

  5. Mindful Muscle says:

    I love how Jeff included a clip of the late John Meadows doing the pullover! One legend paying homage to another! And as always, great video Jeff!!

  6. john-carlos ynostroza says:

    Dang, Jesse has really come along! Dude is literally turning into Jeff Junior right before our very eyes. Thanks for the video guys.

  7. Abdul Khan says:

    The 3 most optimal chest exercises for me are:

    1) flat barbell bench press (most important)
    2) dumbbell pullover (glad Jeff mentioned it)
    3) incline dumbbell press

  8. Omega Soypreme says:

    It’s cool seeing someone with such low body fat doing these exercises. It’s like watching a live action anatomical drawing.

  9. Kyle Dean says:

    When Jeff breathes through his contractions, he times his inhales through the eccentric contraction and exhales through the concentric contraction to avoid imbalance.

  10. Michael_M says:

    After all these years and billions of views, he’s finally telling us we only need 3 chest exercises. Well, better late than never.

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