The Best Exercises For a Thick, Powerful Chest

Barbell Bench Press
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Barbell Bench Press

Why It Works: Yes, it’s boring and you’ve probably done it a thousand times, but it works. A study done by the American Council on Exercise found that, compared to eight other moves, the bench press activated the pectoralis major most effectively. (Fun fact: push-ups were found to be the least effective chest move tested.) For the most benefit, go heavy. Researchers had study participants use 80 percent of the weight they could bench once, and that delivered the best results.

How to Do It: Lie on your back under a bench press rack, with the barbell over your chest. Grab the bar with your arms shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar to your chest, letting your elbows bend out to the side, then return the weight to the starting position.