How To Build Chest Muscles To Stretch Your T-Shirt
Like working any muscle, building up your chest can seem an uphill struggle if you’re wasting time with the wrong exercises.
It’s easy to neglect putting in enough work on your legs or abs but not many guys overlook the arms or chest. Biceps are pretty small muscles that need lots of time and plenty of effort to develop. Although your pecs are larger and stronger muscles, getting a strong, thick chest can be harder than you would think.
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Luckily, we’re here to help…
Today, we’ll show you how to build chest muscles the easy way. Hitting the pecs hard has the added bonus of increasing your strength and overall power so it’s a real win-win. Look great and perform even better.
Before we launch into the best way to build your pecs, a brief snapshot first of the most effective exercises for a deep and defined chest…
Basic and Effective Chest Exercises
The good news is that there are surprisingly few exercises that properly target the pectorals. Rather than adopting a scattergun approach and hoping for the best, double down on variations of the following:
- Bench Press: The classic bench press comes in 3 versions: flat, incline or decline. By varying the way you bench, you can laser in on specific areas of the chest. Using a different grip – normal, wide or close – put the stress on either the arms or the chest. Keep your body guessing!
- Flys and Dips: With flys, the inner shoulder joint acts as the pivot where push-ups and presses are a much more up-and-down movement. The fly is perhaps the exercise we most associate with chest building. Dip bars add another explosive dimension to your chest workout
- Push-Ups: By tweaking the angle and width of your arms, you can hammer many variations of the simple push-up. As well as mixing up the style of push-up, you could add a weighted vest or opt for a more challenging press-up workout
We’ll look at these in more detail and show you how to mix them up to avoid boredom and plateauing.
Put simply, though, if you carry out a range of resistance exercises targeting the whole chest area, your body will get the signals it needs to adapt and start growing.
You might already have put in some time on your chest with disappointing results. What, then, are you doing wrong?
The Problem With Most Chest Workouts and How To Fix It
If you are limiting your moves to a regular bench press and a few dumbbell flys, you’re seriously missing out.
These exercises focus only on the middle section of your chest. For a fully defined barrel chest, you’ll need to hit all sections of the pectorals…
If you can hone your upper chest, this has the advantage of making your overall chest seem bigger than it really is. If you fail to pay attention to your upper chest and end up putting too much effort into the lower chest, you risk a look more like man boobs than a chiseled chest.
Your upper chest is composed of a separate muscle, the clavicular pectoralis. This takes a great deal more time to develop fully than the pectoralis major or minor. Target the clavicular pectoralis with the right moves, though, and the overall effect will be striking.
Rather than endless flys and trips to the pec deck for endless reps, work smarter rather than harder. Widen the net to include all your chest muscles and you’ll gain in size, strength and aesthetics.
Before we move on, take note of these 3 general tips for building your chest muscles…
3 Golden Rules For Shredded Pecs
If you want to know how to build your chest muscles without drowning in information and becoming confused, bear these 3 golden rules in mind at all times…
- Develop The Whole Chest
- Heavy Resistance + Progressive Overload = Rock Solid Chest
- Basic, Big Lifts for Strength, Power and Aesthetics
1) Develop The Whole Chest
As we pointed above, the central method for full chest development is to pay proper attention to all parts of it.
The upper chest muscles are the most resistant to growth so rather than going tonto with the bench presses, put in more time and focus on the clavicular pectoralis.
Working on the upper chest can also have hidden benefits for your benching anyway. If you have found yourself plateauing, ramping up the power in the top section of your chest can equip you with a better ability to lift.
To summarize, the best full chest workout will give a fairly even split to the upper and lower muscles. Most people get this entirely wrong so stand out from the crowd and prioritize a complete chest workout for best results.
2) Heavy Resistance + Progressive Overload = Rock Solid Chest
Building mass requires you to train with heavy resistance. You also need to subject your muscles to progressive overload.
In plain English, lift heavy weights in the 3 to 7 rep range when carrying out the bulk of your chest workout.
For most compound chest exercises and bench pressing, aim for around 75% of your 1 rep maximum.
Failing to use heavy enough weights means you will miss out on hypertrophy and the subsequent gains.
Go hard or go home. Train heavy throughout then switch to some lighter weights to warm down. Ignore this advice and you’re just making it harder than it needs to be to get shirt-splitting pecs.
3) Basic, Big Lifts for Strength, Power and Aesthetics
If you’re churning through hundreds off flys then listlessly pounding the pec deck machine, rethink your strategy.
Both these work best at the end of your workout to add some volume. Do not focus on them as the core part of your training.
Barbell and dumbbell presses are the swiftest way to a thick and strong chest. The tried and tested basics are popular for the simple reason that they work.
Go Hard: It’s All About The Intensity
If you want to get really noticeable chest growth naturally, you’ll need to work at somewhere near full intensity through the bulk of your workout. You must push your muscles to the absolute limit to cause the rips and repair central to packing on lean muscle.
To reach maximum intensity, bring your full focus onto each rep and keep lifting until you can’t squeeze out another rep. The added bonus of lifting to failure is the ability of the pump you get to send blood packed with nutrients rushing to the chest fibers. This will kickstart the repair and growth you’re looking for.
Lifting with a spotter is a surefire way to get more from your training. You can safely lift and push yourself to failure without worrying about the fully loaded barbell pinioning you to the weight bench or causing serious injury.
If you like listening to music while you work out, choose something upbeat with driving bass. Use the music to motivate you toward that final rep…
Rest is a fundamental part of working out. Growth is what happens when you are not in the gym. By training your chest, you’ll encourage and stimulate growth. One you’ve accomplished that goal, make certain you give your body the time it needs to recover and repair.
2 or 3 intense chest workouts a week is more than enough if you follow the above advice and vary your routines.
Now, before we move on and show you how to build your chest muscles with a small selection of simple workouts, we need to underscore the importance of eating the right amounts of the right foods…
How To Build Chest Muscles in the Kitchen
If you train without the right approach to nutrition, most of your efforts will be wasted.
With the correct training and the right rest periods combined with top-notch fuel at the proper times, you’ll be well on your way to deep, carved pecs.
We’ll deal with timing first as this is arguably even more important than the macronutrients you take on board.
Working out to exhaustion has your muscles crying out for nutrients so you want to get them into your system as rapidly as you can. This will smooth the passage for muscle growth and repair.
- Eat within 1 hour of finishing your workout
- Go for protein and carbs
If you eat shortly after training, this gives your muscles what they need rather than leaving them to break down.
Consume high quality protein and carbs directly after your session and the body will be sent into a building or anabolic state. This is the opposite of a catabolic or breaking down state.
Get the right nutrients into your system within 1 hour of finishing your workout. If time is too tight, go for some protein powder mixed with milk. However you choose to do it, taking those key macronutrients on board is vital if you want to speed up those gains.
Of the 3 principal macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat), protein is the most important for building lean mass.
Everyone has differing nutritional needs. As a rule of thumb, though, shoot for 1 gram of fat per 1 pound of body weight on a daily basis.
Making sure you get protein in this sort of quantity will help your muscles to recover and it will also promote new muscle tissue.
You can get high quality protein from:
- Lean beef
- Protein powder and supplements
If you want to build your chest muscles, there’s simply no substitute for fueling your body with all the protein it needs.
Carbohydrates give your body the energy needed to perform at your best.
Complex carbs work best and aim for something with low GI if possible.
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
If you fail to consume enough carbs or opt for too many simple carbs like white rice and white bread, you’ll find yourself sluggish.
Get this right and you’ll have all the energy you need to work that chest to exhaustion without compromising your health.
You need fat in your diet and omega-3 fats are very important for muscle building, keeping your heart strong and even weight loss.
It’s unnecessary and counterproductive to go over the top but you must ensure that you incorporate some healthy fats into your diet if you want to build your chest muscles.
- Olive Oil
How To Build Chest Muscles with 5 Simple Workouts
Now that you have a good overview of the best way to build your chest muscles and what you need to eat and avoid, we’ll round out with some simple routines that will help you on your way to a superhero chest…
1) Flat Barbell Bench Press
With the barbell bench press, you’ll target the pectoralis major along with the triceps and abs. Proper form is more important than numbers. Keep both feet planted on the floor, your shoulder blades against the bench and the back of your head on the pad. Bench presses hit the chest hard. Call your spotter and get on with it!
- Lay back on the bench with your head close to the end and your eyes under the racked bar
- With both feet on the floor, grip the barbell just over shoulder-width
- Lower the bar so it touches the chest
- Keep your wrists stiff and stay in position
- Push the bar up so your elbows are fully extended
- Go for 4 sets of 8 reps
2) Incline Bench Press
If you’re looking to put a little more emphasis on the upper chest, try performing your chest press on an incline bench. The procedure is the same as for a flat press except for the type of bench.
- 4 sets of 8 reps
3) Decline Bench Press
If you’re looking for a well-rounded chest, mix in some decline bench presses to change the angle and tension and better target the lower chest. There’s no back stress and the angle allows you to ramp the weight up nicely. As with all bench presses, make sure you have a spotter and enjoy a welcome alternative to the flat press.
- Put your legs under the padding on the bench and lower yourself down into the decline position
- Grab the bar with a medium grip
- Unrack the bar and place it just above your chest
- Inhale deeply and lower the bar so it’s touching your chest
- Pause as the chest fibers stretch then exhale and return bar to the starting position
- 4 sets of 8 reps
The chest fly is a superb way to tone your pecs along with your shoulders and triceps. We should stress that the fly does deliver but it needs to be part of your repertoire with heavy weights rather than one of a couple moves you use to chase a pump.
- Lay on a bench with your body toward one end
- Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand
- Start off with your elbows bent and the dumbbells near your chest
- Inhale and extend your elbows out to the side. Make a T shape with your upper body
- As you exhale, bring the dumbbells back across the center of your chest
- 4 sets of 8 reps
5) Weighted Push-Up
You can perform push-ups in a number of different forms. One of the best ways to target the chest muscles is to go for a weighted push-up. If you want to work your chest, arms and core to the max, add a weight plate. Each rep will challenge you in a new way.
- Perform a push-up as normal but use a weight plate
- Put the plate on your lower back and hips for best results with least chance of injury
- 5 sets to failure
The Best Program for
Muscle Building in 2018
Use PROMO CODE: FREEFITNESS
We very much hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of how to build chest muscles the smart way.
If you stop to map out your training in order to put in the effort where it counts, this will be time very well spent. Home in on all the chest muscles so you’ll look great while ramping up your performance to the next level.
Reach out any time with queries or feedback. We love to hear from you and we’re always ready to help in any way we can.