5 Best CrossFit Chest Workout to Train Your Upper Body

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

CrossFit is a comprehensive fitness program that offers a complete solution for endurance, muscle building, strength, power, and speed development.

As a coach with years of experience in the industry, I curated the most effective CrossFit chest workout by conducting extensive research and implementing various training methods with my clients.

Countless CrossFit workouts can help you build a strong chest, but this article will specifically focus on compound chest exercises like bench presses, muscle-ups, and weighted dips.

Quick Summary

  • The 5 best CrossFit chest workouts to train your upper body are Barbell Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Push-Ups, Weighted Dips, and Decline Dumbbell Flyes.
  • These workouts, integrating HIIT with strength and conditioning, require basic equipment and are suitable for both commercial and home gym settings.
  • According to the Sportorthopa¨die-Sporttraumatologie, performing explosive, multi-plane compound movements for as many rounds as possible with minimal instruction can increase the risk of poor form and injury during CrossFit chest exercises.
  • Personally, I think CrossFit chest workouts, when done with proper form and supervision, offer a balanced approach to achieving overall upper body fitness.

The Ultimate CrossFit Chest Exercises Upper Body Strength

Woman working out upper body

This beginner-friendly CrossFit workout can be done with basic equipment like dumbbells or a barbell at a commercial or home gym.

What Is a CrossFit Workout?

A CrossFit workout is HIIT training that combines strength and conditioning through functional movement patterns performed at high intensities.

It includes performing bench press, squats, push-ups, and weightlifting for a specific period.

But as a form of high-intensity interval training, they require proper nutrition and supplementation, especially pre-workouts, to fuel performance.

In my experience as a coach, I've seen how CrossFit workouts, combining HIIT with strength and conditioning, dramatically improve fitness levels.

Here’s a list of the best pre-workouts for CrossFit that I compiled, drawing on my extensive knowledge and experience in the fitness industry.

5 Best CrossFit Chest Workouts To Strengthen Your Upper Body

Man doing chest work outs

Here are the best CrossFit exercises to build your chest and how to perform them.

To optimize your CrossFit chest workout, start with targeted mobility exercises and warm-up routines that specifically prepare the chest muscles and joints, enhancing both safety and performance.

1. Barbell Bench Press

The barbell bench press is a popular exercise among weightlifters and is known as one of the “big three” lifts along with the squat and deadlift.

From my coaching experience, the barbell bench press is a fundamental lift I always recommend for building chest strength.

Here’s how to perform this bench press: 

  1. Load an appropriate weight on the bar.
  2. Lie on a flat bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press them into the bench.
  4. Hold the bar with a medium grip and lift it from the rack.
  5. Lower the bar to your sternum, touch it to your torso, and extend your elbows to push it back up.

2. Incline Dumbbell Press

Man doing incline dumbbell presses

The dumbbell incline bench press addresses muscle imbalances and focuses on the upper chest muscles, which are often overlooked in most chest workouts.

Having trained numerous athletes, I advocate the incline dumbbell press for targeting the often-neglected upper chest muscles.

Follow these steps to perform an incline dumbbell bench press: 

  1. Adjust the bench to a 30–45 degree angle and sit with dumbbells resting on your thighs.
  2. Bring the dumbbells up to shoulder level with elbows bent.
  3. Press the dumbbells up while exhaling, keeping your wrists straight.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to chest level while inhaling, with elbows at a 45-degree angle to your torso.

3. Push-Ups

Push-ups are a great exercise to build strength, targeting the pectorals, triceps, shoulders, and core.

They require no equipment and can be done anywhere with good form.

In my sessions, I emphasize push-ups for their versatility in strengthening not just the chest but also triceps and shoulders.

Here’s how to perform push-ups:

  1. Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Straighten your arms and legs so your body is lifted off the ground.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lower your body down until your chest is close to the ground.
  4. Pause for a second, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

4. Weighted Dips

Woman doing weighted dips

Weighted dips are a challenging variation of chest dips that improve strength for exercises like bench presses by working opposing muscle groups simultaneously.

I've seen significant strength improvements in my clients when incorporating weighted dips into their routines.

To perform this chest exercise, follow these steps: 

  1. Put on the dip belt, loop it through the carabiner, and attach the weight plate.
  2. Stand facing outward on the dip bar, and hold onto the bars with straight arms and locked elbows.
  3. Inhale as you lower your body and flare your elbows to the side.
  4. Exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position.

Related Article: Best Weighted Dip Belts

5. Decline Dumbbell Flyes

The decline dumbbell chest fly offers a unique challenge to the lower chest and defines the pecs by focusing on adduction.

The position also improves posture and helps alleviate lower back pain.

My personal coaching experience has shown that decline dumbbell flyes effectively sculpt and define the lower chest.

To perform a decline dumbbell fly:

  1. Secure your legs at the end of the decline bench, and lie down with a dumbbell on each hand.
  2. Move the dumbbells in front of you at shoulder width, palms facing each other, and arms perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Lower your arms out at both sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch on your chest while keeping your arms stationary.
  4. Return your arms to the starting position as you squeeze your chest muscles and breathe out.

Ideal Sets and Reps Range

Woman doing reps

CrossFit usually follows an ‘As Many Reps As Possible’ (AMRAP) pattern.

In my coaching, I tailor the sets and reps to individual goals, often utilizing the AMRAP approach for endurance and strength.

“AMRAPs allow you to specify the amount of time that a CrossFit training session will take.”

- Todd Neif, Head CrossFit Coach

Here are some reps and sets guidelines for beginners:

  • Aim for higher rep ranges or 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps of direct chest work for muscular endurance.
  • For overall strength gains and building a strong chest, opt for a low rep range of 2–6 sets of 1–5 reps.
  • Aim for 3–5 sets of 6–12 reps for muscle growth and visible muscle mass.

What Are the Risks Involved With CrossFit Chest Exercises?

The risks involved with CrossFit chest exercises are due to their high-intensity nature.

Performing explosive, multi-plane compound movements for as many rounds as possible with minimal instruction can lead to poor form and injury, according to the Sportorthopa¨die-Sporttraumatologie [1].

As a coach, I've observed that the high intensity of CrossFit chest exercises can pose risks if not performed correctly.

Tips To Keep Yourself Safe

Man getting help from coach

If performed safely, CrossFit improves cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance, according to the Sport Sciences for Health [2].

Drawing from my coaching experience, here are a few tips to keep yourself safe while doing CrossFit chest exercises:

  • Choose a reputable box and coach who prioritizes proper form and safety and doesn't push you beyond your limits.
  • Focus on maintaining good form by listening to feedback, training with a mirror, and avoiding ego lifting.
  • Pay attention to your body and avoid pushing through sharp pain or discomfort.

To prevent injuries during intense chest workouts, it's crucial to follow proper warm-up routines, maintain correct form, progressively increase weights, and include rest days for optimal muscle recovery.

FAQs

Do CrossFit Athletes Train Chest?

Yes, CrossFit Athletes train their chests. CrossFit is multifunctional and uses many compound exercises. Since your chest is a large muscle group, it’s an integral part of CrossFit workouts.

How Do You Build a Strong Chest With CrossFit?

To build a strong chest with CrossFit chest workouts, perform high-intensity exercises like bench press, push-ups, dips, and muscle-ups. Include as many rounds as possible until your muscles fatigue.


References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7473349/
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11332-018-0521-7
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

A person doing upper chest workouts at the gym
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 5 months ago
Best Upper Chest Exercises for Strong & Powerful Pecs
Woman doing a dip workout
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 2 months ago
How to Do Dips (Perfect Form for Build Upper Body Strength)
A man doing chest dips in the gym
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 3 months ago
7 Chest Dip Alternatives for a Stronger Upper Body

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.