The American Council on Exercise sponsored a study to identify which exercises most effectively work the large chest muscle known as the pectoralis major (or pecs). Incorporate these moves into your upper body workouts to get the most from your exercise time.
Barbell Bench Press
This classic gym exercise activated the chest muscles the most out of the nine tested exercises. If you are new to strength training, don’t let this weight room exercise scare you. Beginners can start by using only the bar for weight until they get comfortable with the proper form.
Pec Deck Machine
The pec deck came in a close second to the bench press. While this is a popular machine in most gyms, experts recommend practicing caution when using the pec deck. Many use bad form and lift too much weight, which can injure the shoulder joint. If you plan to use it, ask a trainer to help set it up safely.
Bent-forward Cable Crossover
Not far behind the pec deck, the cable crossover is the third most effective chest exercise. Proper position and use of the cables can take a while to get used to. Start with a small amount of weight and ask a trainer to check your form as you perform this exercise.
What about push-ups?
Push-ups were surprisingly rated as the least effective chest exercise of the nine tested. This doesn’t mean you should stop doing them, but you will need to do almost twice as many push-ups to get the same result as you will from the top three exercises.