Best exercises for your abs, pecs and back

Abdomen (abs)

Tricky body part, the most problematic body part, everyone wants good abs.

The abdomen is the long muscle of your stomach. People think it consists of 6 different parts, hence the term six-pack, but this isn’t the case, that is just the way the muscle is shaped.

Remember no matter how hard you work your abs, or how many sit ups you do every day, you will not see your abs if you have copious amounts of body fat obscuring the muscle. You need to have a good diet and nutrition plan along with an abs workout plan to see your abs results.

Also a myth exists that if you focus workouts on your abs then you will lose fat faster in that area , this is complete rubbish, you need to lose fat all over your body for the fat in front of your abs to go.

Well defined abs are a sign of truly being in great shape.

Do all abdominal work slowly and with concentration to extract the best from a rep.

Here are the top exercises for the abdomen

Crunch: Lie on the ground with your two hands behind your head or on your chest. Using your abdominal muscles crunch your body so that your head and torso raises towards your knees, rounding your back. Squeeze at the top of the movement to work the abs.

Slowly return to the start position and repeat.

Reverse Crunch: Lie on the ground with your hands beside your body or holding a fixed object behind your head.

Lift your legs, bend your knees and using your abdominal muscles curl your lower body towards your head and squeeze at the top of the movement.

Slowly return to start position and repeat.

Leg Raises: Lie on your back on the floor or preferably on a bench. Place your hands palms down under your buttocks. Extend your legs out in front of you and keeping them straight raise them up over you.

This exercise can also be performed with bent legs for beginners.

Another variant is to perform them on an incline surface which works them even harder.

Hanging Leg Raises: Hang from a chin up bar. Keeping your legs as straight as you can, raise them slowly up in front of you, hold, and then lower to the start again.

A variant is to keep your legs bent which is easier for the beginner.

Oblique Crunch: This exercise is designed to work those long thin muscles that lie at the side of your stomach and run from under your ribs to your waist.

Lie on your side. With your legs in place on their side, place your hands behind your head and looking at the ceiling, slowly crunch your side muscles up.

Repeat for the other side.

Chest (Pecs)

A flattering body part for men who have developed a full muscular chest.

The chest actually consists of upper and lower portions. You need to include flat, decline and incline bench movements to fully develop the upper, middle and lower chest.

Also to target the middle and outer areas requires a variety of exercises which I will cover here.

To develop the chest initially you should use mostly free weights and compound presses.

Here are the top exercises for the chest muscles

Bench Press – Flat: The bench press is fundamental in a training regime to build mass in the chest, front deltoids and triceps.

Lie on a bench with your feet on the floor. Grasp the bar a little wider than shoulder width.

Lower the bar to your chest slowly, DO NOT rest the bar on your chest. Press the weight up again until your arms are extended with a slight bend at the elbow.

Remember to have a spotter present when you are attempting to press heavy weights.

The bench press works all areas of the chest.

Variations include machine presses.

Incline Bench Press: This is just like the bench press with the exception of having the bench at an incline angle of your choice. Remember the higher the angle the more your front delts are coming in to play.

The incline press focuses on the upper chest area.

Decline Bench Press: The decline press is done on a decline bench so that your upper body is angled downwards.

This works the lower area of your chest.

Its especially important to have a spotter present with decline presses as its much easier to get into difficulty.

Dumbbell Press

The dumbbell press is done on a bench but its done with dumbbells instead of the barbell.

It works the chest muscle through a greater range of motion than using the barbell alone. And using two separate weights forces the stabiliser muscles to work too.

Hold two dumbbells in your hand while sitting on the end of a bench, sit back and bring the dumbbells straight up overhead.

Lower the weight towards your outer chest slowly and under control. Press the weight back up again to finish the rep.

Incline Dumbbell Press: Like the incline bench press only using dumbbells.

This exercise works the middle and upper pectoral muscles.

Decline Dumbbell Press: Again this is like the bench press version only with dumbbells.

This exercise works the middle and lower pectoral muscles.

Push Up: The push up can be performed anywhere you have floor space. It requires no equipment and is useful when travelling.

Kneel down on the floor, place your hands in front of you on the floor and lift up your knees until its just the tips of your toes on the floor. Lower your upper body until your chest almost touches the floor, push yourself up again and repeat.

Dumbbell Fly’s: Lie on a bench and hold two dumbbells at arms length above you , palms facing each other. Keeping your arms straight, lower the weights out to the side of you in an arc motion. Stop short of parallel and using your chest muscles bring the weights together again in an arc motion.

Remember to keep a slight bend in the elbow joint as you move through the movement to prevent injury to the joint

Dumbbell Incline Fly’s: Dumbbell incline fly’s are a variation on flat fly’s. Using an incline bench repeat the procedure as for flat dumbbell fly’s.

Dumbbell Decline Fly’s: Again decline fly’s are a variation on flat fly’s. Be sure you have a spotter present to watch you don’t strain yourself in an awkward position.

It might also be a good idea to have the spotter hand you the weights after you get yourself into the decline position.

Variations on dumbbell fly’s are fly’s done using cables such as standing cable fly’s and bench cable crossovers.

Also machine fly’s are useful as well. The add that element of safety also to the exercise.

Dips: Dips have a similar effect as decline presses. Dips are done using your own body weight. As you become stronger you can add more weight by holding a dumbbell between your feet.

Hold onto the parallel dip bars at arms length. Slowly lower yourself as far as you can down. Press back up to the starting position from there.

To lean further forward and involve more of your chest, cross your feet behind you which causes the body to lean forward during dips.


Whatever you think about the chest and biceps, its the back muscles that really show how strong you are. They give the classic v-shape that is admired on beaches everywhere.

The back muscles consist of;

Latissimus Dorsi : This is the triangular shaped muscle that goes from your waist to under your shoulders. Highly developed “lats” seem to flare out when seen from the front or from the back.

Spinal Erectors : These are the muscles of the lower back.

Trapezium : This is the triangular shaped muscle that extends from the neck to between the shoulder blades.

Developing the back consists of a variety of movements due to the various muscles of the back and it also consists of heavy weightlifting due to the largeness of the back. Training the back also requires different hand positions on the bar to bring out different areas.

Here are the top exercises for the back muscles

Pull-ups: Grasp an over head bar with the palm of your hands facing away from you. While concentrating on the lat muscles pull yourself up until your neck is level with the bar.  Slowly lower to the start again.

Variations of pull-ups include wide grip pull-ups and pull-ups that you perform so the bar comes up behind your head.

Chins: Grasp the bar with your palms facing you, pull your self up until your chin touches the bar, slowly lower yourself again to the start.

Variations include  holding a special bar that allows for your palms to be facing each other when you pull yourself up.

Lat Machine Pulldowns: These can be performed with a variety of grips which include palms facing you and palms facing away and also special attachments that place your hands in different positions.

Hold the bar, position yourself with you knees under the support bar, adjust it according to your needs and pull the bar down towards you, squeeze your back and slowly higher the bar up again.

Bent Over Barbell Row: Stand with your feet apart, grasp the bar with a medium overhand grip. Bend your knees slightly and look forward while keeping your back straight.

With your head up, bring the bar towards your chest, hold and lower slowly to the start position, immediately start your next rep then.

Variations include seated cable rows or machine rows.

Deadlifts: Deadlifts strengthen and build the lower back.

CAUTION: Deadlifts can be dangerous if not performed correctly especially while using heavy weights.

Build the weight up slowly while using correct form until you can handle heavy weights.

Place a barbell in front of you on the floor. Stand with your feet comfortably apart and grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Keep your back straight, look forward, bend your legs down and using your legs initially straighten up until you are standing straight.

To lower, bend the knees, look straight ahead and lower the bar keeping your back straight.

One Arm Dumbbell Row: Hold a dumbbell in one hand, with the other hand hold onto an object, be it a bench, a chair or even your own knee.

With your back nearly parallel to the floor, extend the arm straight and then bring the weight up to your side and squeeze the back muscles. Continuing to keep your back straight and parallel to the floor lower the weight until your arm is extended once again

Repeat for the other arm.

Variations include one arm cable rows and one arm smith machine rows.

Shrugs: Shrugs work the trapezium muscle.

Stand up straight, keep a slight bend in your knees and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Without bending your arm use your upper back muscles to “shrug” as high as you can, then lower to the start again.

You should look like you are trying to get your shoulders to touch your ears while performing this move.

Originally written for

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