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A Chest Isolation Workout

by
author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
A Chest Isolation Workout
Dumbbell flys work the chest muscles directly. Photo Credit LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images

You get lots of self-reward from working the chest muscles. You see progress in these "mirror" muscles very clearly, unlike muscles of the back and legs. However, they can be difficult to develop if you use the wrong exercises or technique. Train your chest correctly by focusing on moves that develop the pectoralis major, rather the shoulders or triceps.

The pectoralis major has two heads: The sternocostal head, which is the biggest part; and the clavicular head, which is smaller and sits just under your collar bone. These two heads come together to form the big, powerful chest muscles.

Your pectoralis has the primary action of bringing your arms across the front of your body. It's actually a very powerful muscle in birds because it allows them to flap their wings. That's why birds have much more pronounced chests than we do.

Read More: Square Chest Exercises

Ironically, some of the best chest exercises are called "flyes" because you're mimicking the movement that a bird makes when it flaps its wings by bringing your arms closer together.

The best chest isolation workout involves some heavy lifting as well as the specific isolated efforts. Heavier lifting does typically include some assisting muscles to help in the movement, but the chest will still be doing most of the work.

Bench Press

The chest is almost always the hardest working muscle in the bench press, regardless of what weight you use, according to a 2013 study in the Central European Journal of Sport Sciences and Medicine. Make sure that you have a partner who can spot you during this exercise.

Step 1

Lie down on a bench with a bar resting on the rack above you. The bar should be over your eyes. Grip the bar with your hands about twice your shoulder width apart. Plant your feet flat on the ground.

Step 2

Lift the bar up and out of the rack with your arms straight. Bring the bar forwards until it is directly over your shoulders.

Step 3

Lower the bar down towards the lower half of your chest. Pinch your shoulder blades together and stick your chest out as you bring the bar down.

Step 4

Let the bar rest on your chest for one second and then press the bar up and back slightly towards your shoulders. Keep pressing the bar until your elbows are straight and the bar is directly over your shoulders.

This is proper bench press form.
This is proper bench press form. Photo Credit DreamsNavigator/iStock/Getty Images

ValSlide Flys

A variation of the fly that only requires a sliding device and either carpet or hardwood floors.

Step 1

Start in a plank position with your elbows each on a different slider and arms bent at a 90-degree angle.

Step 2

Slowly spread your arms out to the side and slide down towards the ground. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Go down until your chest is an inch above the ground.

Step 3

Slide back up by pulling your elbows in towards each other. Squeeze your chest muscles.

Cable Flyes

The different angles available when you use a cable machine give this exercise an advantage over dumbbell flyes.

Step 1

Use a cable machine with two separate handle attachments for this exercise.

Step 2

Grab one handle in each hand and step forward with either your left or right leg. Plant that leg in front of you and lean forward, keeping your weight in your back toes.

Step 3

Press the handles out in front of you until your hands are touching and your arms are straight.

Step 4

Separate your arms and open them up, like you are flying. Keep a very slight bend in your elbows. Keep opening back almost until your hands are in line with your shoulders.

Step 5

Push the weight forward by forcing your arms together in front of you like you are flapping imaginary wings. Squeeze your chest muscles as you bring your arms together.

Creating A Workout

If you're looking to build your chest muscles, you can incorporate these exercises into a workout with other exercises or alone. When you do these exercises, perform the bench press before the flys. The bench press is a more technical movement and you can lift more weight, so you shouldn't fatigue your chest muscles beforehand.

For every exercise, simply doing three sets of 10 repetitions will be beneficial. That will give you 30 repetitions total for each exercise during the workout, which allows you to fatigue your muscles without forcing you to use too much weight. If your goal is to develop your chest muscles, a higher number of repetitions using a moderate weight will help more than using heavier weight for fewer repetitions, according to a study in a 2016 issue of the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

Read More: Major Muscle Groups Used in Bench Press

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