Having a full and muscular chest is a popular goal for men trying to bulk up. It’s the first thing many notice when that shirt comes off at the beach or pool. So naturally, many men want to build up this area. However, this is a slow growing muscle area. It’s a difficult muscle group to grow and can be tricky for some to increase in size and build up strength. Building a bigger chest takes attention to detail as well as patience. I will share my chest routine for a larger and more defined chest. For other muscle group areas, reach out to me with what you’d like to work on and we’ll see if you could benefit from 1 on 1 training consulting.
Below is my chest routine. When starting a new routine, it’s important to train this muscle group 2 times a week. After about 6 months or so when the chest has bulked up, then you’ll want to train your chest 1 time a week. The reason being that the larger a muscle gets, the longer it needs to recover after training before it can be trained again. Here’s my chest workout:
- Warm Up/Stretch
- A proper warm up and stretch will save you shoulder pain down the road especially when bench pressing. As a warm up, move your arms around and get some blood into them. Feel free to use stretching bands to activate the shoulder. One of my favorite stretches to do before starting chest is the doorway stretch. This stretch involves a doorway to place your hand behind at eye level then moving your chest forward through the doorway until your feel the stretch. I do this extensively before training my chest. When there are no doorways around, I use a squat rack or a smith machine to place my hands on. This stretch saves me shoulder pain and will increase your shoulder mobility over time.
- Bench Press
- The first exercise I do is bench press. It’s no secret that the bench press is ideal for building a chest. Good form is important so ask an advanced gym goer or a trainer on form. Like building other muscle groups, it’s important to start with a compound movement as the muscles are fresh then we transition to isolation movements towards the end of the training session. For bench press, we want to go heavy. But start out at a medium weight and work up to heavy. My sets are 5,5,3,2,1. The first 5 set is medium weight. The second 5 set and on are weights where I am struggling to get the last rep up. The last set of 1 is almost always a 1 rep max. This is important to increase load over time. Muscle grows fastest when it is pushing to failure so we want to essentially lift our max weight on that last rep. It’s crucial to have a spotter when doing this exercise. If no spotter, then you won’t be able to utilize the failure method and progress will be slower. Rest is 90 seconds for this exercise. Before last set, rest for 120 seconds.
- Inclined Dumbbell Chest Press
- Again, we are going heavy here. 3 Sets of 8 and the last rep should be practically failure. If you aren’t struggling to get the last rep of each set up you need to increase the weight. Adjust the weight accordingly so the last rep is a struggle to finish. Rest is 60 seconds for this exercise.
- Chest Fly’s
- This could be done either on a machine or with cables. If with cables, make sure that you’re pulling up from your hips to your head. We will do 3 sets of 8. This exercise should be done with relatively lighter weight with little rest. For these, we want to go very slow and concentrate on the burn of the chest. This is great for hypertrophy and a good looking pump. The lift should take 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down for each rep with a 2 second squeeze/hold at the top of the lift. Remember that you should be doing enough weight for the last rep to be a struggle. Adjust the weight accordingly for each set. Rest is only 30 seconds for this exercise.
- Last but not least, pushups. After about 2 minute rest from the previous exercise, 30 incline pushups is the last part of the workout. That means place your feet on a bench or a knee-level platform for these pushups. I do this at the end to fill in the gaps of whatever I missed. A nice and light compound movement to end the workout is a good way to increase the burn before leaving the gym. More importantly, it’s always a good idea to work on body weight exercise after workouts when muscles are tired. Doing so helps with mobility and functionality.
There’s my chest routine. Again, 2 times a week for beginners and 1 time a week for advanced trainers. You don’t want to be maxing out twice a week unless you are new to the gym. However, in the beginning it’s good to really jump start your training habits. This workout doesn’t take long so I partner it with other muscle groups after I complete it. Feel free to reach out with other muscle groups you are looking to build.