Want the perfect workout program?Take Quiz
"How much do you bench?" If you have ever talked to anyone about lifting weights or the gym, you have likely been asked that question. Between the normalcy of that question and Monday's being known as "International Chest Day," there's no debate that the chest is the most commonly worked muscle group.
The bench press is, without a doubt, one of the best exercises for building mass, especially in the chest, but chest isolation exercises help sculpt and define the pecs. In this article, we will teach you about the anatomy of the muscles and all of the best isolation chest exercises to help get your pecs defined. We will also provide a sample chest workout to help you get your pecs shredded.
Table of Contents
In the sections below, we will explain everything you need to know regarding the chest muscle, from anatomy to compound chest exercises. But first, we will teach you the chest isolation exercises you need to maximize your chest workout and muscle growth. Isolation exercises are exercises that target a single muscle group, whereas compound exercises work multiple muscle groups. Isolation exercises are used to address a muscle imbalance or focus on specific muscle groups that are neglected in compound movements.
The dumbbell chest fly is one of the best isolation exercises to practice mind-muscle connection, a tactic where you focus intently on the target muscles moving the weight rather than aimlessly lifting with momentum.
Cable flyes are another great chest isolation exercise and alternative to the dumbbell chest fly. The movement is the same as the dumbbell version, except you adjust the handles on the cable machine.
Adjust cable weight and height, with D-handle attachments on each to grip.
Low cable flyes are an alternative to a regular cable fly that emphasizes the upper pecs. The low cable fly is performed the exact same way as a normal cable fly, except the handles should be dropped as low as possible. You then slowly lift the handles upward to shoulder level, rather than the downward motion of cable flyes. Focus on squeezing the upper chest fibers as you raise the weight.
On the other hand, you can raise the handles to the very top of the machine to place the focus on the lower chest. With the handles above your head, it becomes a decline pressing motion, which targets the lower chest.
The Pec Deck is a chest isolation exercise that uses a machine with two arms to perform a chest fly.
The flat dumbbell press (dumbbell bench press) is a compound exercise, but you can perform the dumbbell press with one arm at a time. With a regular flat dumbbell press, people often use momentum or other muscles to help move the weight. For this exercise, you set up the same way as a normal dumbbell press, but you only lift with one arm while the other wait idles above your chest. Be sure to use the same weight to prevent a muscle imbalance.
The Svend Press is my favorite chest isolation exercise, especially for focusing on the inner pecs. This is a perfect isolation exercise to use until failure or for supersets with compound chest exercises, like a barbell bench press or dumbbell press. It's a great exercise to focus on mind-muscle connection and focus on the contraction.
Perform the below sample chest workout once or twice a week, with at least three days rest between.
Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets x 12-10-8 reps
Dumbbell Incline Bench: 3 sets x 12-10-8 reps
In order to maximize your chest development, you must perform compound and isolation exercises. While an isolation exercise focuses on a single muscle group, a compound exercise involves multiple muscle groups. The barbell bench press is considered one of the best chest compound exercises, along with the incline bench press.
Best chest compound exercises include:
Barbell bench press
The chest, or pectoral muscles, are one of the largest muscle groups, meaning you must hit every aspect for the perfect chest. The pectoral muscles are divided into two main groups, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.
The pectoralis major is a fan-shaped muscle that makes up the majority of the chest. The pectoralis major is comprised of the clavicular head, sternal head, and abdominal head.
The primary purpose of the pectoralis major is to flex, extend, stabilize, and rotate the chest muscles to the humerus.
Pectoralis Major Functions:
The pectoralis minor is a small, triangular-shaped muscle below the pectoralis major. It starts from the third, fourth, and fifth rib and inserts into the coracoid process of the scapula. It helps support the scapula and plays a major role in downward rotational movements and protraction of the scapula (shoulder blades).
Having bragging rights about your bench press over friends or fellow gym-goers can provide an ego boost, but chest isolation exercises have several legitimate benefits. Benefits of a more muscular chest include:
Barbell bench presses are one of the best compound exercises because they work nearly every upper body muscle and promote chest growth. However, one chest exercise is not enough to maximize muscle growth or chest development. This is where isolation exercises, such as flyes or the Pec Deck Machine, are required to help develop the lower, inner, and upper chest muscles.
Isolation exercises are generally performed with lighter weights for a higher rep amount in the 10-20 range. Chest isolation exercises should always be performed toward the end of your workout after you complete some form of bench press and other compound movements. With a good diet and proper training techniques, you can take your gains to the next level with these isolation exercises.
At SET FOR SET, we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Our team of experts, including certified trainers, dietitians, and athletes, brings over a decade of industry expertise. Our goal is to be your primary resource for all fitness inquiries, guiding you toward a stronger and healthier life. Sign up to stay up-to-date!