The right exercise for the right muscle: Chest
Kai Green Chest


Ever met a gym bro? They are surprisingly simple to identify; How much you bench? is the classic gym-bro giveaway. And the answer reveals a lot about a lifter in general, including strength level and training history. The bench press is also an excellent indication of sheer upper body strength and is one of the three competition lifts in the sport of powerlifting – as a general rule it is one of the first strength reference exercises that beginners come into contact with, and Monday is sometimes referred to as World Bench Day by gym goers.

In this installment of The right exercise for the right muscle we take a look at the pectoral muscles.

Upper pectoralis

  1. Dumbell incline bench press
  2. Guillotine press
  3. JC band press

Mid pectoralis

  1. Guillotine press
  2. Dumbell bench press
  3. Flat bench dumbell fly

Lower pectoralis

  1. Guillotine press
  2. Flat bench dumbell fly
  3. Weighted dip

Ok… so why is the bench press not featured in any of the top exercises? That’s a good question; the reason is that the bench press itself is a compound lift which activates not only the pectoral muscles but also the front delts and the triceps. Athletes looking to increase there max bench need to consider exercises for the development of the front delts (see our first instalment of this series: Shoulders) and the triceps (see our article covering arms).  Furthermore, the bench press, being compound, is not as effective as other exercises which isolate the pectorals.

The most featured exercise here is the little known guillotine press. This is an old school lift not commonly seen in the gym these days, that is excellent for pectoral development. It is a flat bench press that is performed with a wide grip; the elbows must be flared and no arching of the back is allowed – ideally the athlete should place is his feet on the bench. The bar is then lowered to just above the athletes neck.  This lift should be performed with a partner as a failed lift has a high probability of injury.

Another interesting result is the pre-eminence of the dumbell exercises over barbell exercises in eliciting activation in the pectorals. Serious gym goers should definitely include some dumbell presses if they want some serious chest development.

Many of these exercises can be done with basic barbell and dumbbell equipment, both of which are available on bidorbuy. You can also find exercise bands and benches on bidorbuy.