The Best Chest Workout
If you want to know what is the best chest workout to build a broad, powerful, and defined set of pecs, then you want to read this article.
Let’s not kid ourselves, one of the primary reasons we all started lifting was to build muscle, lose fat, and improve the way we look with or without clothing.
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And one of the first muscles everyone tends to focus on developing is the chest. We won’t fault you either, we all want a nice-looking chest. One that stands out and causes heads to turn when walking down the street.
By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to build a bigger, stronger, and more defined chest.
This workout will work whether you’re male or female, a novice or seasoned lifter.
Let’s start by quickly reviewing that anatomy of the chest.
Chest Anatomy 101
While we tend to think of the chest as one single massive muscle group. The reality is there are two distinct muscles of the chest -- the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
The pec major constitutes the majority of chest mass. It is responsible for moving the arms horizontally toward and across the midline of the body as well as pulling the upper arms down from an overhead position.
The pecs also assist with internally rotating the shoulder and even play a role in scapular functions, such as depression, rotation, and protraction.
The pec major can be subdivided into the upper chest (clavicular) and mid/lower (sternal) chest. This is extremely important to note as to maximally develop the chest, we’ll need to employ a variety of angles during pressing.
Incline movements emphasize the muscle fibers of the upper chest while flat and decline exercises more heavily target the middle and lower muscle fibers.
The pec minor is a small muscle that lies beneath the pec major. Its function is to pull the scapula forward and toward the midline of the chest.
The reason you don’t hear a lot of talk about developing the pec minor is that there really is no need to “target” it with a bunch of different exercises. Just about any exercise that trains the pec major will also sufficiently stimulate the fibers of the pec minor.
5 Characteristics of the Best Chest Workouts
Build a Base of Power & Strength
The very best chest workouts are those the not only make your pecs bigger, they also make them stronger and more powerful.
In order to build strength, you need to lift heavy...really heavy.
Therefore, you’ll be starting your chest workout with the king of strength building pec exercises -- the flat barbell bench press.
Simply put, there’s no better exercise that allows for maximal pressing loading than the bench press. You can load it up the heaviest, which means the bench press is capable of supplying the greatest overall stimulus to the pecs.
All great chest workouts start with the barbell bench press, and this one is no different.
Include Enough Volume
While low reps and heavy weights are key for developing muscular strength, if you want to grow your chest as quickly as possible, you have to perform enough volume (sets, reps, etc.).
The intensity of load and effort play a role in making muscles grow, but the research has been pretty clear as of late that volume is the primary driver of hypertrophy.
In other words, get ready to put in some honest “meat and potatoes” work doing lots of presses, dips, push-ups, and fly movements if you’re serious about growing your chest.
Emphasize the Upper Chest
We touched on this a bit during our discussion of chest anatomy, but it bears further discussion.
Simply put building a big, broad chest isn’t the only goal you should have when it comes to chest training.
Truth be told, building a big chest is relatively easy for most lifters. Where virtually every lifter struggles though is developing the upper and inner portions of the chest. They’re basically non-existent in all but a select few who actually prioritizes training the upper chest.
Exercises such as the flat barbell bench press and chest dip are great overall mass builders. However, due to the orientation of the muscle fibers of the upper chest, you need to perform incline pressing exercises to maximally train them.
Train the Pecs Through Their FULL Range of Motion
The pecs function not only to draw the arms towards the middle of the body but also across the midline. This is extremely important to keep in mind when it comes to chest training as all standard pressing movements (incline presses, dips, barbell bench press) do not all for the arms to cross the midline of the body. Therefore, you’re not training your pecs through their full range of motion, meaning you’re leaving some serious gains on the table!
This necessitates that we incorporate some cable crossovers in the best chest workout as the crossover is an exercise which allows for the arms to cross the midline of the body while keeping tension on the muscle fibers of the pecs throughout the entire range of motion.
All the sets, reps, and exercise variations are meaningless if your training program does not include some method of progressive overload.
In other words, if you are not constantly striving to lift more weight, complete more reps, or perform more sets from one workout to the next, you will not grow. It really is that simple.
While the easiest way to go about progressively overloading the muscles comes by way of adding weight to the bar, there comes a point where simply adding more load to the bar isn’t feasible. The good news is that there are a number of different ways to go about employing the principle of progressive overload to your workout.
Here are a few options:
- Perform more total sets of the same exercise or add in another chest exercise
- Increase the number of repetitions completed during a workout for a given exercise
- Decrease the rest interval between sets while completing the same number of sets and reps
Now, let’s get to the best chest workout for building muscle and strength!
The Best Chest Workout
Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 4-6 reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Weighted Dips: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Hammer Strength Chest Press: 1 set of 100 reps*
*Note: Pick a weight that you can lift for 20 reps. Complete as many reps as possible until you can no longer perform another rep with good form. Rest briefly (3-5 breaths) and continue performing mini-sets until you reach 100 reps.
What About Supplements?
Proper nutrition, progressive overload, and plenty of R&R will deliver the brunt of your results from training, but supplements can play a role in helping you achieve your diet, training, and recovery goals more effectively.
These are some of our favorites to use.
Mega Pre Black is a high-energy pre-workout that supplies the mind and body with ample energy, drive, and determination to dominate the iron. Coursing with stimulants, nootropics, and blood flow enhancers, Mega Pre Black supports your ability to train at the highest level.
Protein is essential for repairing muscle fibers damaged by intense training and supplying your body with amply amino acids to synthesize new muscle tissue. ISOLIT is a high quality 100% pure whey protein isolate protein powder supplying 25 grams of protein per serving.
ISOLIT is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, easy to digest, and can fit into any nutrition plan.
Getting enough sleep is vital to your ability to recover from the depleting effects of intense exercise. Sleep deficiency impairs recovery, limits muscle growth, and impacts subsequent training performance.
Simply put, if you want to get bigger, stronger, and faster, you must get enough sleep each night.
EAA Sleep is an all-natural sleep and nighttime recovery aid specifically formulated to help you get a better night’s sleep. Not only does EAA Sleep include natural ingredients that help lull the body into a deep sleep, it also supplies valuable essential amino acid that supports the body’s recovery and growth processes while you sleep.