Some guys don’t have to train their chests—it’s a dominant upper body muscle already, and one third of the upper body, explains Kenny Santucci, NASM CrossFit L2 certified program manager at Solace in New York City. “But you should train the chest—it’s like a national holiday.” For those not fortunate enough to skip this muscle group, and probably walking around puffing out your chests in front of the ladies, Santucci suggests the following workout. “With most of these movements, we’re hitting both the pec major and the pec minor, as well as developing the upper body as a whole,” he says. Try these movements once a week, and don’t be surprised if your chest puffs out even when you’re standing still.
1. Bench Press: Place flat bench under barbell and lay flat on it. Place hands on barbell a little wider than shoulder-width apart and lift barbell off rack. Keeping elbows close to sides, slowly lower barbell to chest, then explosively push back up. Start with a light weight to warm up, doing 3 reps for 5 sets. Then do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps, working up to 75 to 80 percent of your max.
2. Banded Push-Ups: Grab a band and hold one end in one hand, drape it around your back, and hold the other end in the other hand. Then get into plank position, with hands on the floor directly under your shoulders (still holding onto band), legs extended out behind you, core tight, body in a straight line from head to toe. Keeping elbows close to sides, bend elbows and lower chest to the floor or as close as you can. Then push back up. Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
3. Dumbbell Incline Pec Flys: Place bench at a 45-degree angle and sit on it with a challenging dumbbell weight in each hand. Keeping back flat against the bench, pushing through your feet, raise dumbbells directly over chest, hands facing each other. Open each arm to its respective side, simultaneously lowering dumbbells until both are at bench level, then pull weights back up to chest level. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
4. Decline Push-Ups: Place box behind you. Get into plank position, with hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, legs extended out behind you, feet on top of box, core tight, body in a straight line from head to toe. Keeping elbows close to sides, lower entire body until chest touches the ground—or as close to it as possible. Push back up. Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
5. Box Dips: Place two boxes on either side of you and rest on your knees between them. Place one hand on each box, elbows bent. Without swinging the body, push up to straighten elbows and lift knees and body off the ground. Repeat without letting knees ever touch the ground. Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps. Then on the fourth set, max out as many as you can.