The ONLY 2 Chest Exercises You Need (NO, SERIOUSLY!)

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What would you say if I told you that there were only two chest exercises you need to do? In this video, I am going to show you the two chest exercises that should make up the bare minimum of your chest workouts. Not only are these two exercises great for building a bigger overall chest, but they are the two exercises that will cover the upper chest, lower chest and overall pecs fully.

Some might tell you that you only need two exercises total in order to build a muscle group. I disagree. I don’t think anyone should be limited to picking just two exercises for a muscle group because in the case of a muscle with multiple heads or bellies, the functions that can be targeted individually through exercise selection are going to factor in.

The chest is a great example of this; it has three heads as well as two primary functions. The first is to simply flex the shoulder and drive the arm out in front of the body. That’s an easy one. Every single chest exercise you do is going to put that function in focus. What people miss however is the importance of the additional role of the muscle in shoulder adduction, or bringing the arm fully across the chest, past midline.

It is here that one exercise in particular stands out most – and becomes an irreplaceable part of your training.

In order to fully develop the chest you’re going to want focus a majority of your effort on both of these exercises. The choice comes in however when you look in the mirror and assess your biggest weaknesses in your pec development. It is not uncommon for people to either have an almost absent upper chest or a sagging or poor lower chest line.

If either of these is the case for you, the exercise movements shown here won’t change but the angle that you approach them with will.

For instance, if you have poor upper pec muscle size then you’ll want to focus both of the variations shown here on the upper chest. On the bench press this is done by performing either the barbell bench press or dumbbell bench on an incline bench set to 30-45 degrees. On the crossover, the angle of the arms should be traveling in a low and away to up and in position during every rep.

Make sure that you’re crossing your hand over midline on the crossover if you want to get a peak contraction on the pectoral muscles.

Back to the bench press however. Your goals matter here too. If you are trying to build your chest strictly while increasing your overall top end pressing strength then you should likely stick to the barbell variation of the bench press. Typically you can handle about 20 percent more weight on a bar than you can by splitting that same weight up between hands with dumbbells. This is due to the compromised stability that comes as a result of using dumbbells rather than a single bar.

That said, the barbell presents other challenges for some people – namely orthopedic in nature.

If you have wrist, elbow or shoulder issues, the fixed hand placement on the bar can be too difficult to overcome and the exercise may not be able to be done without pain. That is where the dumbbell bench press usually becomes the savior of your gains. Not only this, but you get better adduction on the chest in the process.

Any compromise in weight is likely going to be overcome by better chest activation and, ultimately, better chest growth.

You can always slow down the reps in either variation to provide additional stability to compromised shoulder joints and help alleviate any discomfort you may have from performing this classic chest exercise.

The second exercise is the crossover. Some people mistakenly look at this as a luxury rather than the must-do chest exercise it really is. If you want to grow your chest maximally you have to figure out some way to perform the exercise in your chest workout.

If you have access to a machine, great. If not, a simple resistance band can be used to do any of the three variations possible. Again here, you have the same ability to target either the upper, middle or lower portions of your chest more favorably depending on the angle of your arm travel during the movement.

Now, if you want to take your chest training to the next level there are many exercises to choose from. I don’t think we should ever be limited to just two exercises for a muscle group, the chest included. But you should at least start with these two exercises to build the foundation of your chest growth.

If you are looking for a complete step-by-step training program that will take your workout to the next level, be sure to head over to and find the workout program that matches your goals.

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