How to Do a Chest Press: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Target: Chest muscles

Necessary equipment: Dumbbell, barbell or Smith machine

Level: Intermediary

Exercises to strengthen chest compressions work the muscles of the chest area. You can use a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, barbells, Smith machines, hanging machines, or even resistance bands to perform chest presses.

A qualified coach is recommended to teach you how to perform the right chess position, especially if you plan to train at a home gym. Chest press exercises can be part of an upper body strength exercise or a muscle building exercise.


Chest press exercises target the main muscles of the chest, chest. It also uses the anterior deltoid of the shoulder and the triceps of the upper arm. Lifting and defining breasts is desirable for a well-proportioned look, but this muscle building also functions. You need strong pec to have power for sports when you swing a club, racquet or club.

Chest presses also help you perform any daily activities that require pushing or carrying. It can help restore muscle balance for athletes who primarily use pulling muscles, such as in wrestling, climbing, and swimming.

Step by step instructions

Although you can do chest presses with a variety of equipment (see Variations, below), these instructions use weights.

  1. Lie on a bench or the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. If you use a bench, you can rest your feet on the bench or on the floor, depending on the height of the bench and the length of your body and legs.
  2. Place dumbbells at shoulder height with upper arms 45 degrees from body. Keep elbows forward of shoulder line to avoid stress on shoulder joints. Your palm should face forward and your thumb should wrap around the handle.
  3. Squeeze your abs, tilt your chin slightly toward your chest, and make sure you’re in a stable and comfortable position. You are ready to lift.
  4. Push the dumbbells up while exhaling, taking care not to lock the elbows in an explosive motion. The weights should follow a shallow arc and almost meet over the top of the chest. You can straighten your arms as long as you don’t do it with sudden or excessive force. The head and shoulder blades should not protrude from the bench or the floor.
  5. Lower the dumbbells, contract the muscles, and at the same time inhale and control back to the starting position.

To start, try three sets of 10 repetitions with appropriate weights. You can put weights down between sets.

Common mistake

Avoid these mistakes so you get the most out of this exercise and prevent muscle strain or injury.

Loss of Natural Back Arch

Maintain the natural arch in the lower back; Do not press the back to the surface. This is called the queen curve and is a natural stabilizing mechanism.

The bracelet is too far

Do not let the forearm spread so that the weight is outside the boundary of the elbow. Move in an arc toward the center of your chest, but don’t dump the weights on each other as you move.

Weight is too heavy

Don’t contract your upper body and shoulders to push the weight upwards. If you find yourself doing this move, the weights are too heavy. If fatigue occurs during the final reps of any set, reduce the number of reps or switch to lighter weights. Do not risk injury to yourself or others.

Lifting too fast

Lifting too quickly or with force can injure your elbow. Try to move the weight in a controlled, rhythmic direction, not too fast.

Do not use Spotter

It’s a good idea to have someone support you while doing chest presses, especially if you’re lifting and using heavier weights. This person is often referred to as a “spotter,” and many people at the gym are willing to “spot you” if required.

Modifications and Variations

You can make this exercise more accessible as you build strength, then challenge yourself more as you progress.

Need a modification?

People who are just beginning to exercise may want to start with a seated chest press to strengthen the pectoral muscles. It helps reduce form errors and is adjustable.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Adjust the dumbbell push-ups by adjusting the bench to an incline 15 to 30 degrees and performing the exercise as directed above. Remember to keep your back and shoulders steady through each rep as you maintain the proper distance between the dumbbells.

Cable press

You can also try this exercise with a cable press. Adjust the cable pulleys to shoulder height and stand centered, holding the handles of each pulley as you raise your arms to shoulder height. Engage your chest muscles and press the handles forward to fully extend your arms. With controls, drop back to your original position.

To familiarize yourself with the proper form and movement of the exercise, start with light dumbbells and pay attention to the movement. If you feel any pain, you should not perform the exercise.

Want to join a challenge?

Once you’re able to do the chest lift with proper form, you can start adding weights. When you’re using heavier weights, be sure to use a gauge as you try these challenging exercises.

Press stand

You should only try the stand press if you have a solid foundation and have perfected your form. Note that this exercise works your chest muscles less as it tests your balance and stability. You’ll feel this exercise most in your transverse abdominal muscles (TVA), the erector muscle that supports your spine, and your rotator cuffs.

Plate Press Machine

This variation can be done while lying on the couch or standing up. The disc presses target your chest and also reduce the risk of injury because you squeeze the weight to maintain muscle engagement during the workout.

Changing your elbow position will target your muscles differently. If your elbows are closer to your sides, the triceps will work more. If your elbows are flared, you’ll be working on your chest more.

Safety and Precautions

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether this exercise is right for you if you have had a recent injury or surgery involving your chest or shoulder muscles. If at any time you feel pain in your arms, shoulders or chest, end the exercise.

frequently asked Questions

What are the benefits of chest compressions?

The chest press primarily works the pectoralis major but it also targets the deltoids, triceps, biceps, and anterior pectoralis muscles along the upper part of the ribcage.

Is a chest press the same as a chair press?

Chest press and chair press are essentially the same exercise. However, chair presses are always performed while you are lying on your back with dumbbells while chest presses can be performed sitting, standing, or leaning with dumbbells.


Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:

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