Best Compound Chest Exercises and Their Benefits

Sports Nutritionist & Fitness Author
  • Chest, Chest, Compound Exercises
  • Posted 11 months ago

Harnessing the power of compound chest exercises is a game-changer for those who want to increase overall strength and sculpt their physique.

These chest compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, stimulating balanced muscle growth and boosting your overall strength.

Contrary to chest isolation exercises that focus on a single muscle, compound chest exercises engage your pectorals, shoulders, and triceps together. This efficient approach triggers a greater hormonal response, leading to enhanced muscle growth.

Moreover, these exercises mirror movements we often perform in daily life, contributing to functional fitness and reducing injury risk.

A Detailed Guide to Top Compound Chest Exercises

Below, we’ll delve into the 5 best compound chest exercises, breaking down each to ensure proper form:

Barbell Bench Press: The Cornerstone of Compound Chest Workouts

The barbell bench press stands as an indispensable component in the realm of compound chest exercises, earning a sterling reputation for its significant impact on the pectoralis major, shoulders, and triceps.

This core and upper body powerhouse exercise also serves as a platform for versatile chest workouts that can be tailored to target the middle and lower chest areas.

To execute this chest exercise, lie on a flat bench, feet grounded firmly to the floor.

Take hold of a barbell with an overhand grip positioned just above your chest, hands maintaining a shoulder-width distance.

While keeping your body straight, guide the barbell to your middle chest, then assertively push it back upwards, always mindful to leave your elbows slightly bent.


  • Escalates Upper Body Strength: The barbell bench press efficiently nurtures strength development in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and upper arms. This makes it a quintessential part of compound movements aimed at bolstering upper body power.
  • Fosters Balanced Muscle Growth: As a compound chest exercise, the bench press recruits multiple major muscle groups simultaneously. This coordinated effort cultivates a more harmoniously developed upper body.
  • Enhances Bone Density: Bench press, like many other weight-bearing exercises, holds the potential to augment bone density, thereby mitigating fracture risks.
  • Elevates Athletic Performance: Strength garnered from consistently performing the bench press can significantly enhance performance across various sports and physical activities.
  • Functional Fitness: The bench press can hone your capacity to execute daily life movements, such as pushing or lifting heavy objects, more efficiently.

It’s commendable versatility allows it to be performed in varying configurations like the incline barbell bench press or decline barbell bench press.

The bench angle can be adjusted in the incline or decline variations to focus on different parts of the chest.

This flexibility makes the barbell bench press a versatile staple in any compound and isolation exercises routine, thereby ensuring comprehensive development of your chest.

Moreover, other compound chest exercises such as the push-up position or bodyweight chest exercises, along with isolation exercises targeting specific areas like shoulder blades or the pectoralis major, can further diversify your training and promote all-around fitness growth.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The incline dumbbell bench press is an excellent compound exercise chest workout, targeting your upper chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Set an adjustable bench to an incline angle of 30 to 45 degrees. With a dumbbell in each hand and your feet securely on the ground, lie back on the bench.

Press the weights upward, extending your arms fully above your chest, and then slowly return to the starting position.


  • Focuses on upper chest: The incline angle specifically targets the upper chest, ensuring balanced development of chest muscles.
  • Enhances shoulder stability: This exercise boosts shoulder stability, thus reducing the risk of injury.
  • Versatile: The use of dumbbells allows a greater range of motion, promoting muscle flexibility and joint health.
  • Boosts athletic performance: This exercise enhances upper body strength and endurance, improving performance in sports and physical activities.
  • Functional fitness: It can improve performance in daily activities involving lifting or pushing overhead objects.

Seated Machine Chest Press

The seated machine chest press is a superb compound exercise for your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and triceps.

Sit on the machine, ensuring your back is flat against the pad. Align your hands with your chest on the handles.

Push forward until your arms fully extend, then slowly return to the starting position, allowing your muscles to stretch.


  • Controlled movement: The machine guides your movement, reducing the risk of improper form and potential injury.
  • Targeted muscle engagement: The seated machine chest press primarily targets the chest muscles, offering an efficient workout.
  • Adjustable resistance: You can easily adjust the machine’s weight to match your strength level, supporting progressive overload.
  • Protects joints: As the machine guides the movement, there’s less stress on the joints compared to free weights.
  • Functional fitness: This exercise mirrors daily life pushing movements, potentially improving functionality.


Push-ups are straightforward yet effective compound exercises that target your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.

Start in a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet together.

Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. Push your body back up to the starting position.


  • Full-body workout: Push-ups engage several muscle groups at once, offering a full-body workout with one exercise.
  • Cardiovascular health: Being a compound exercise, push-ups can elevate your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Increases functional strength: Push-ups engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, mirroring movements our bodies perform daily, thereby improving overall functional strength.
  • No equipment required: As a bodyweight exercise, you can perform push-ups anywhere, anytime without needing any equipment.
  • Enhances balance and posture: Regular push-ups can improve balance and posture by strengthening core muscles.

Chest Dips

Chest dips are effective compound exercises that work your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Hold onto the parallel bars with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.

Lower your body by bending your arms while leaning forward slightly until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Push back up to the starting position, ensuring your body remains straight and your wrists are firm.


  • Targets multiple muscle groups: Chest dips are an excellent exercise for targeting your chest, triceps, and shoulders, boosting overall upper body strength.
  • Boosts muscle mass: Regular chest dips can increase muscle mass due to their compound nature.
  • Increases endurance: Chest dips are a great way to enhance muscular endurance, particularly in the upper body.
  • Enhances body control: This exercise requires good body control and balance, which can improve with regular practice.
  • Functional fitness: Chest dips can help improve performance in activities involving pushing or lifting, making them a valuable addition to any functional fitness routine.

Spice Up Your Routine With Exercise Variations

It’s crucial to regularly change your workout routine to keep your progress steady. Here are some variations of the exercises we discussed:

  • Incline dumbbell bench press: Try single-arm incline presses.
  • Seated machine chest press: Increase the range of motion with partial reps or slow negatives.
  • Push-ups: Try clap push-ups for a full-body explosive workout.
  • Dips: Widen your grip to target chest muscles more intensely, or add weight with a dip belt.

Incorporating variations into your workouts can challenge different muscle fibers and prevent plateaus in your progress.

Ensure Proper Form and Execution

Maintaining correct form during exercise maximises benefits and ensures safety. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your workouts:

  • Keep your back straight and core braced when performing any upper body exercises.
  • Control the weight at all times; avoid using momentum or jerky movements.
  • Ensure your wrists and elbows align when doing push exercises.
  • Keep your neck neutral; don’t tilt your head back or forward during any exercise.
  • Tighten your glutes and press your feet into the ground for stability during push exercises.
  • Remember to breathe while performing each rep; exhale on exertion and inhale on the return.

Recommended Sets, Reps, and Rest Time:

Exercise Recommended Sets Recommended Reps Recommended Rest Time
Barbell Bench Press 3-4 6-8 2-3 minutes
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3-4 8-12 1-2 minutes
Seated Machine Chest Press 3-4 10-15 1-2 minutes
Push-ups 3-4 10-20 1-2 minutes
Chest Dips 3-4 10-15 1-2 minutes
Compound Chest Workout

Remember, these are general recommendations and may need to be adjusted based on your individual fitness level and goals. It’s crucial to always listen to your body and adjust sets, reps, and rest times as necessary to avoid overtraining and promote optimal muscle growth and recovery.

Final Words of Advice and Motivation

Remember, “The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen”. Stay motivated and consistent with your fitness journey.

And remember, it’s about progress, not perfection. For more advice, workout plans, and fitness motivation, be sure to check out our other blogs and our YouTube channel where we regularly post new content.

Keep pushing, keep evolving, you’ve got this!

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