Top Functional Chest Exercises

Top Functional Chest Exercises

Functional training is a popular trend in the fitness industry. Mainly because of the results it offers.  In this particular style of training, the body is pushed to its limits while moving the body through functional motions, using mostly body weight for resistance.  In other words, the exercises are geared towards improving aspects of functionality such as pushing a blocking defender, picking up a heavy piece of furniture while moving, or chopping wood on a camping trip.  Regardless of the functionality for which you seek, functional exercise training is something you ought to incorporate into your daily exercise routine.

Top Functional Chest Exercises

One part of the body (men and women) which many individuals strive to maintain good shape is the pectoral muscles, a.k.a. the chest.  A functional training program for the chest can be one great way to cut, rip, and shape to get the definition you want.  What entails functional chest exercises?   The following section of this article discusses exercises which are great for a shaped and defined chest, with some description on how it can be performed with modifications, and a recommended amount of sets and reps.

  • Incline Bench Press. While this is borderline functional training, there is some benefit for performing an incline bench press for chest functionality.  Anytime you lift something above your shoulders or push forward on something (like when moving furniture across the floor), you are using your chest muscles, especially the upper portion of the pecs.  While the incline bench press is basically performed on an incline bench, you can modify this exercise to make it more functional.  Gather a stability ball and a pair of lighter dumbbells to start.  Position your body as if you are sitting on an incline bench so the ball is positioned at your lower back and perform an incline press as you normally would.  You should be angled upward to mimic an incline bench.  Perform about three sets of 8-12 reps and increase your weight or reps as necessary.
  • Cable Flies. A chest fly works the chest most efficiently out of any chest exercise.  The arm adduction across the body is predominantly the chest pulling the arm.  One version of the fly is to perform it standing using a cable cross.  The cable cross is great for generating varying forces to make the exercise difficult.  If your arm is shaking, so is the handle and cable, which makes the exercise much harder to control.  Maintaining control with the cable cross will not only make the chest stronger, but it will help keep a high level of functionality in the shoulder area.  To make this exercise more functional, add a stability ball to the mix and try performing a seated chest fly on a stability ball.  Perform three sets of 10 for starters and add reps or weight as desired.
  • Medicine Ball Push-Ups. One of the most functional exercises is the push-up.  The push-up is an exercise used to help the individual get up from the ground, which would be very difficult without upper body strength to assist.  A push-up using a medicine ball makes the exercise more challenging.  Start by lowering a straight body into a push-up position, but place both hands safely around or on top of a medicine ball.  Make sure to have a controlled handle over the ball to avoid slips, falls, and subsequently injuries.  Alternatively, you can place your feet on the ball with your hands on the floor and perform a push-up in this manner.  Either way you choose, you will get a good workout.  Start with three sets of 10 until comfortable with more reps and sets.
  • Dips. This may actually be one of the hardest exercises (aside from pull-ups).  Dips require a lot of triceps and chest strength and are a very functional exercise for climbing over walls or raising the body up with an assisted device.  Using a dip bar, raise the body up so the body is hanging and the arms are holding everything up and have a slight forward lean [2].  Lower down so the elbows stay back and close to the body.  Maintaining this elbow positioning is crucial for proper form.  Perform with three sets of as any as you can safely perform and adjust the reps and sets as necessary.


Maintaining functionality over time is crucial as we age.  Whether you are in your twenties or early fifties, functional training can help make your everyday activities easier.  Moreover, functional exercises can help increase strength, endurance, and shape a particular area of your body efficiently.

The Challenge

The next time you are working out, challenge yourself to add a functional element to your chest exercises by adding a stability ball or by performing any of the listed exercises above.





About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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