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What would you say if I told you that there were only two chest exercises you need to do? In this video, I am going to show you the two chest exercises that should make up the bare minimum of your chest workouts. Not only are these two exercises great for building a bigger overall chest, but they are the two exercises that will cover the upper chest, lower chest and overall pecs fully.

Some might tell you that you only need two exercises total in order to build a muscle group. I disagree. I don’t think anyone should be limited to picking just two exercises for a muscle group because in the case of a muscle with multiple heads or bellies, the functions that can be targeted individually through exercise selection are going to factor in.

The chest is a great example of this; it has three heads as well as two primary functions. The first is to simply flex the shoulder and drive the arm out in front of the body. That’s an easy one. Every single chest exercise you do is going to put that function in focus. What people miss however is the importance of the additional role of the muscle in shoulder adduction, or bringing the arm fully across the chest, past midline.

It is here that one exercise in particular stands out most – and becomes an irreplaceable part of your training.

In order to fully develop the chest you’re going to want focus a majority of your effort on both of these exercises. The choice comes in however when you look in the mirror and assess your biggest weaknesses in your pec development. It is not uncommon for people to either have an almost absent upper chest or a sagging or poor lower chest line.

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If either of these is the case for you, the exercise movements shown here won’t change but the angle that you approach them with will.

For instance, if you have poor upper pec muscle size then you’ll want to focus both of the variations shown here on the upper chest. On the bench press this is done by performing either the barbell bench press or dumbbell bench on an incline bench set to 30-45 degrees. On the crossover, the angle of the arms should be traveling in a low and away to up and in position during every rep.

Make sure that you’re crossing your hand over midline on the crossover if you want to get a peak contraction on the pectoral muscles.

Back to the bench press however. Your goals matter here too. If you are trying to build your chest strictly while increasing your overall top end pressing strength then you should likely stick to the barbell variation of the bench press. Typically you can handle about 20 percent more weight on a bar than you can by splitting that same weight up between hands with dumbbells. This is due to the compromised stability that comes as a result of using dumbbells rather than a single bar.

That said, the barbell presents other challenges for some people – namely orthopedic in nature.

If you have wrist, elbow or shoulder issues, the fixed hand placement on the bar can be too difficult to overcome and the exercise may not be able to be done without pain. That is where the dumbbell bench press usually becomes the savior of your gains. Not only this, but you get better adduction on the chest in the process.

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Any compromise in weight is likely going to be overcome by better chest activation and, ultimately, better chest growth.

You can always slow down the reps in either variation to provide additional stability to compromised shoulder joints and help alleviate any discomfort you may have from performing this classic chest exercise.

The second exercise is the crossover. Some people mistakenly look at this as a luxury rather than the must-do chest exercise it really is. If you want to grow your chest maximally you have to figure out some way to perform the exercise in your chest workout.

If you have access to a machine, great. If not, a simple resistance band can be used to do any of the three variations possible. Again here, you have the same ability to target either the upper, middle or lower portions of your chest more favorably depending on the angle of your arm travel during the movement.

Now, if you want to take your chest training to the next level there are many exercises to choose from. I don’t think we should ever be limited to just two exercises for a muscle group, the chest included. But you should at least start with these two exercises to build the foundation of your chest growth.

If you are looking for a complete step-by-step training program that will take your workout to the next level, be sure to head over to athleanx.com and find the workout program that matches your goals.

For more videos on hot to get a bigger chest and the best chest exercises to do just that, make sure that you subscribe to this channel here on YouTube and remember to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a video when it’s published.

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26 thoughts on “The ONLY 2 Chest Exercises You Need (NO, SERIOUSLY!)”
  1. *THE GIVEAWAY IS BACK* – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.
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    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. Jeff, I’ve been ur fan since 2015, I’ve been watching almost all the videos. I’ve always noticed u mentioning, we should train for overall pushing or pulling strength over the isolation exercises. But wt if someone wants to achieve some parts bigger than the rest as they’re now (for aesthetics reason)

    Maybe a faster growth of delts over chest or tris and bis over torso, how should he train?

    Pls if possible make a video

  3. Another timely video as I reevaluate chest…. Thanks Jeff, I’m training for my 60th!

  4. 1. Dumbbell chest press
    – point inside of hands upwards for better chest contraction
    – choose incline or decline angle if needed
    2. Cable cross-over
    – drive shoulders and head back as you bring the cables forward
    – ensure you get actual cross over

    Alternate variations. Enjoy.

  5. 1:30 DB Bench Press (Flat/Incline/Decline)
    3:30 Crossover (Middle/Upper/Lower)
    5:21 Summary

    1. @BobbyB society is, in general, a bunch of snowflakes. Thanks for keeping that going!

  6. Just did these both this morning. Good to have Jeff verify the effectiveness of my workout

  7. I became a subscriber at the beginning of the pandemic, and the results I have seen in my chest and shoulders, and overall body strength since I’ve been following you are noticeably better. I appreciate all you do.

  8. This video was great! I’ve identified several mistakes I’m doing using cables. I’ve never tried to cross my hands over each other and I tend to lean forward instead of backwards. This was very insightful! <3

  9. This is actually a very well made video. All of the small details and comments that are made provide great insight into the inner workings of the muscles and key differences between each movement.

  10. This workout is spot on Jeff! I’ve been incorporating many of your workouts. These days, I need more time and this hits home… Thank you! I do have to mention your production of your videos keep getting better, the comedy with Jesse is hilarious and your knowledge and expertise of training puts AthleanX as my Go-To for my workouts and developing a better diet. Thank you for all you do for your community.

  11. I love watching these, because they validate what i already do in the gym, and yes they are amazing, especially the chest cross.

  12. Jeff I hope you see this comment. Thank you for helping me strengthen and recover my torn supraspinatus shoulder tendon and my bad right knee! I suffered these injuries over a decade ago and have been almost a decade strong and injury free!

  13. Hey thanks for what you put out! I ended up getting off track with my fitness goals and suffered through some of the effects of body dysmorphia when I first watched you and other fitness influencers videos years ago! Because apparently everything will kill my gains!

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