A big powerful chest is the goal that eldude many gym goers. In fact, the chest is one of the least used muscles in day to day life. For most of us, we're not really doing much pushing sitting in our cushy office seats.
To make things worse, many guys and gals in the gym focus on the wrong exercises. I can't count the amount of times I've seen someone's chest workout consist of primarily flies. While that's all fine, if you're looking to gain some size there's better uses of your time. Today, we're going to look at a routine that can help you gain some serious mass.
The Problem With Chest Routines
The big issue with a lot of chest routines is that they only focus on one part of the chest. Most people think building a big chest involves a lot of bench press and flyes, but that's only part of the equation. With a routine like that you might end up putting on mass in your chest, but you'll lack that "full" look you see in fitness ads. For most guys, that's the look they're going for.
The chest actually has an "upper muscle" called the clavicular pectoralis. While there's some debate on this whole "upper chest" idea, there's definately some merit to it. While you won't be isolating this upper chest muscle, there are ways to emphasize the use of it.
The great news is that it's not difficult at all to work in the necessary lifts. A couple of tweaks and the results will be fantastic!
Before we get to the actual routine though, let's take a second to get a few things straight:
- Focus on heavy, compound lifts: The pec muscles respond best to high weight in the 6-10 rep range, particularly from compound lifts like the bench press. It's okay to add in some isolation type movements like flyes, but the core focus should be on those compound lifts.
- Progressive Overload: Even if your goal is size, you should still be looking to continously add weight to your reps. By slowly building up the weight you do overtime you'll continue to stress the muscles which in turn leads to their growth. Always do it safely though!
- Give yourself ample time to rest: Since our routine focuses on heavier weights than you might be use to, rest times might be a bit longer. Muscle growth happens during rest, so always make sure you're getting plenty of it between workouts.
With that out of the way, let's get right into the routine.
1. Barbell Bench Press
4 sets of 5-8 reps
2. Dumbell Incline Press
4 sets of 8-10 reps
4 sets 10-12 reps
4. Dumbell Bench Press
4 sets 8-10 reps
That's it; a simple, yet effective workout that is proven to work. There's no drop sets or anything fancy like that, but feel free to add some on if you're feeling ambitious or have extra energy one day. They key items are the dumbell and barbell presses. These are the key items that really stress the chest which is why we have so many of them.
If things are getting a bit stale, feel free to switch out a barbell for a dumbell and vice versa. This will add some variety to the workout, and also provide a slightly different stress which can help speed muscle growth. You can also swap out the flyes for dips or another isloation type exercise.
For timing, we generally do this once every 5-7 days. For beginners though, going 7-10 days is perfect okay too! Listen to your body, it will let you know when it's ready to go.
As we mentioned before one of the items to watch for this routine is that the weight is going up. You'll likely see the weights go up quick at first and then slow down over time. Don't get discouraged and keep at it!
A good way to monitor all this is to use an app like Lifting Buddy. Lifting Buddy helps track your reps and weight, so you can easily see your improvments. This is great for motivation, but also helps keep you on track.
What To Train With Chest?
A lot of people like to hit two muscles groups in one session. That's great, and there's no problems with that. We personally like to work in two muscle groups, one large group that involves a lot of compound movements and one smaller group that involves a bit more isolation.
For example, on chest day we also like to hit a couple of quick triceps workouts. This let's us focus on our primary muscle group for the day, but a get bit extra pump in. Triceps are great to work with chest as a lot of chest exercises will also put a bit of strain on the triceps. This means they're already pre-worn a bit, and require less to fully break down.
What we don't suggest doing is working in too many compound lifts into the same workout. This can add a bit too much stress to the body, which can increase recovery times.
Your Killer Chest Workout
Nothing happens unless you get out there and do it! While reading up and learning is important, putting that knowledge to good use is what really matters.
So what are you waiting for?
Get to the gym and get the pump!
The preceding article was not written or reviewed by a licensed personal trainer or dietitian and is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with a physician before beginning any physical activity or fitness routine.