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Target your arms and chest with an effective barbell workout.
You can work your chest and arms with a variety of resistance-machine exercises, but resistance machines stabilize the weights and determine your range of motion so you're not getting as much of a workout as with free weights, like barbells. Working your arms and chest with barbells forces you to work harder and engage more muscle fibers since your stabilizer muscles kick in to help you balance and control the barbell through the range of motion. Some of the most effective arm and chest barbell exercises include the bench press and barbell curl, both which can be done in a variety of ways to target different muscles.
Barbell Bench Press
The barbell bench press is a compound multi-joint exercise that involves movement of your elbow and shoulder joints. It primarily targets your pectoralis major or chest with a secondary effect on your anterior deltoids and triceps. Perform the exercise with proper technique to ensure you engage the target muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip and your forearms roughly parallel. Lift the barbell from the racks and lower it in a controlled fashion to your nipple-line. Press the barbell up above your chest. Load a weight that allows you to through a full range of motion for eight to 12 repetitions. Do three sets.
Incline Bench Press
Hit the clavicular head of your pectoralis major, or upper chest, with the incline bench press. Set the incline on the bench at approximately 30 degrees. Grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip and your forearms roughly parallel. Lower the barbell in a controlled fashion to your upper chest before pressing it upward. Load a weight that allows you to do three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Close-Grip Bench Press
The close-grip bench press allows you to shift the focus onto your triceps. The triceps are located on the back of your upper arm. Use a narrower-than-shoulder-width grip, with your hands roughly 12-inches apart. To ensure you effectively work your triceps and not your chest or anterior deltoids, lower the bar slowly with your elbows tight to your body. Do three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Hit your biceps with the standing barbell curl. Perform the exercise with correct technique to ensure you work your target arm and chest muscles. To do barbell curls with proper technique, keep your elbows fixed at your sides and don't use body momentum to assist you as you curl the barbell upward. Use a weight that allows you to do three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.