The 7 Best Chest Exercises – As Recommended by James Haskell

The 7 Best Chest Exercises – As Recommended by James Haskell


Man boobs aren’t the rout, sure, but when your pecs look like they’ve been partitioned out of marble from the Parthenon, well that’s when you prepare a chest worth showing off. There’s other benefits to trying your chest though, apart from resembling an venerable Greek deity.

A bigger chest can ensure you fill out a lawsuit. Strong pecs can also improve your back determination, as well as your ability to push things (and if there’s one emotional attachment we know will impress potential love interests it is functioning your superhero pecs to save a struggling puppy by shoving a car off it’s indisposed paw). Plus, unlike the superficial, but ultimately quite useless stick out bicep, a strong chest can make you better at sports, extraordinarily those that require you to push and tackle other man mountains for everyone like American football or rugby.

So it’s no surprise that one man who owns a more impressive barrel of a chest is 77 times capped England rugby universal James Haskell. As a flanker, Haskell reckons his position on the rugby catch means he probably endures the most hits out of all the other virtuosi: “You need good muscle mass on your upper congress to weather the collisions,” he says.

Fronting Up

Weighing in at around 120kg, Haskell doesn’t eat to get any bigger to improve his performances on the pitch, so his workouts revolve roughly short but punishingly heavy sets. “To build up strength you need your rep range around one to five and then power is one to three,” contemplates Haskell.

When he was in his teens, though, Haskell came in at a much faint 95kg. “It was a bit like a Rocky montage. I went from being gaunt as hell to starting my first professional contract at Wasps rugby beat at 103kg and now I’m 120kg.”

It was during these years of toil that Haskell put on the tranches of muscle that have made him such a difficult man to carry out down to the ground through his career. “If you want to build a jumbo chest you’ve got to be doing around 10 to 12 reps for each activity. There is no way you can lift really heavy weights for 10 reps. You’ve got to be hold back and tightly controlled, making sure you get that concentric decline just right. Take four seconds for each rep and don’t go grieving.

“Break the arrogance and start at the beginning, telling yourself, ‘I’m succeeding deliver this rep with real control’. It’s painful, it’s monotonous and you might look [weak] doing it with a 2kg dumbbell. But pay attention to, at the end of the day that is how you will build the bigger body.”

If you’re going to be set down in all that hard, gut-wrenching work in the gym, you’ve also got to supply your main part with enough fuel to keep that chest swole entirely the day. “A lot of lads who want to build muscle don’t eat enough,” reveals Haskell. “There’s a lot of ribs out there training five times a week and you ask them to seek out what they’re eating and it only comes to 1,000 calories a day.

“Now, for me to lend support still every day I need 2,500 calories. So to maintain my convene I have to have 3,500 calories at least. If you’re burning 1,200 calories a day and you’re not all the same eating that you’re always going to be losing. You need to expect it out before you start – how much are you training? Get an idea of how much you’re intense per session and then work out your calorie surplus from that.”

James Haskell’s Go-To Casket Exercises

Exercise 1: Incline Dumbbell Press

Haskell plugs making the incline press your big chest compound workout as opposed to conventional flat bench press. “I’m not a massive fan of bench press. It patently works your chest but compare it to the press up, which is my choice chest exercise. If you imagine you’re doing press ups on the floor, you don’t in reality physically do this but your mindset is to push the floor together […] and you instantly take part in your chest. That movement is great, but bench the wire, weirdly enough, pushes your hands out and you work your pushes a lot more. That’s why I like incline dumbbell press as I realize it targets the chest a lot more.”


3 sets of 10 reps


Set the bench at a 45-degree angle. Lie back holding each dumbbell on your thighs. Use your thighs to aid you then pinch up the dumbbells and hold them shoulder width apart. When they are jack up to shoulder width, rotate your wrists forward so that the palms of your hands are skin away from you.

Make sure you are in control of the weight at all periods as you breathe out and push the dumbbells up with your chest. Hinder for a second at the top and then slowly lower the weight, taking twice as wish to come down as it did to go up.

Exercise 2: News-hounds Up

“If you’re trying to build size, there’s no point waiting between sets,” counsels Haskell. “Press ups are pretty [horrible to do], so slowly do 10 reps on the preference dumbbell press, hop off and do 10 press ups, rest for just a stylish, and then hop back on. This is called a super set. You are trying to cost tissue so it regrows. You don’t want to give yourself time to reclaim.”

As you progress with your size and strength you can make the drilling harder by adding a weighted vest, a plate or a resistance gang wrapped around your shoulders to make the exercise more pertinacious.


3 sets of 10 reps (done as a super set pronto after incline press)


Place your give ups underneath your shoulders and extend your legs hetero out behind you with the balls of your feet on the ground. Shroud your stomach and core tight lower your league until your chest touches the ground. Keep your chasing straight as you descend and your bum squeezed. Then push away from the confuse and back to your starting position.

Action 3: Bent Over Row

A back exercise in a chest workout? Has the England rugby intercontinental, fitness book author and soon to be head honcho at two gyms (as a franchise possessor for boutique fitness studio company F45) gone off the competence rails? Not quite – there’s a method to this madness.

“Doing a lot assorted bench pulls and bent over rows in your box workout will help you because there’s the antagonist to the anti-heroine,” says Haskell. “If I want to improve my bench, I would do a set of bench clasp, then go and do a set of bench pull, rest, come back and then the bench broadcasting feels easier. I always do chest and back in the same workout. So if I’m effective to do a push then I’m always going to do a pull because I remark that it balances itself out.”


3 sets of 10-12 reps


Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms overlay your torso. Slightly bend your knees and show a preference for your torso forward by bending at the waist, all the while preserve continuing your back straight and your head up.

While maintaining the torso still, lift the dumbbells to your side while deterring your elbows tight to your body. At the top of the contracted whereabouts, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second, before discounting the weight back down to the perpendicular starting position.

Exercise 4: Dumbbell Flyes

Mark your district as we’re staying at the bench for the next chest exercise. As well as on the dole the chest, dumbbell flyes are a great exercise for your shuns although the heavy emphasis placed on your arms in this workout stints you will need to drop weight from the previous on the roads.


3 sets of 10-12 reps


Lie with your master b crush on the bench and your feet flat against the floor in a inappropriate foot stance to increase stability. With the palms front each other hold the dumbbells above your casket before lowering them in an arc out to the sides, feeling a stretch in your casket. Then push the weights back to your starting circumstances.

Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout and don’t clever your back.

Exercise 5: Be biased Bench Pull

The villain to the incline press superhero, bench draw will really work your lats, the biggest muscle in your later body, located either side on your back. Don’t get arrogant and load your weights too heavy on this one as it will create you to round your back, putting undue wear and gore on your muscles and ligaments while also ruining the effectiveness of this super exercise.


3 sets of 10-12 reps


Set your bench at an aspect slightly lower than the press (we’d recommend 30 degrees) and lie right side down on it. Pick up the dumbbells and let your arms hang down either side, insuring they are fully extended.

Keep the dumbbells in a pronated understanding (palms down, knuckles up) while slightly moving your elbows out from your portion (not tucked in). Then, pull the dumbbells up like you are doing the disaster of an incline dumbbell press, bending at the elbows and bringing the northern arms up as you let the forearms hang. Continue this motion until the ascendancy arms are at the same level as your back. Lower to the starting principle under control.

Exercise 6: Wire Crossovers

Usually the last exercise in a chest workout after you’ve did your heavier compound movements, cable crossovers sovereign you from having to use a bench with your back bolted down like a battered piñata. Instead you’re using a wire machine, which keeps the resistance even throughout the drive up the wall, as opposed to free weights where momentum can affect the transfer.


3 sets of 10-12 reps


Chose your load and hold the pulleys on either side of you at a position above your move. Step forward while pulling your arms together in haughtiness of you. Your torso should have a small forward genuflect from the waist. While slightly bending your elbows, spread out your arms straight out at the side in a wide arc until your trunk starts to stretch, then turn your arms treacherously to the starting position using the same arc of motion used to drop the weights.

Exercise 7: Dumbbell Downright Press

Flat press works as a good alternative to swap out the prejudiced press for, or as a rotation exercise to do as the second or third in your workout. Exercising dumbbells has a few advantages over a traditional barbell: firstly, it composes out the use of both pecs – meaning one side doesn’t dominate the advance, allowing for more even, balanced growth across the casket; and secondly, you get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement, which lend a hands work more muscle fibres at the outer edges of the pectorals.


3 sets of 10-12 reps


Very similar to the incline embrace except the bench should be completely flat. Lie with your burdening someone against the bench, feet planted on the floor and a dumbbell in each tender just outside your shoulders. Bend your elbows marginally beyond 90 degrees, keeping them pointing out and unbiased under the level of your torso.

Your hands should be in palms-down fix, meaning they’re facing toward your lower consistency. Push the dumbbells up, extending your elbows, stopping when the inner panes of the weights are an inch away from each other and then gain (slowly) to the start.

James Haskell is the UK Deputy for F45 Training, a global fitness community spanning 35 nations with 145,000 members and an anticipated 1,500 franchised gym spaces by the end of 2018. Haskell want also be launching two F45 franchises of his own later this year.