Chest Workouts & Chest Exercises For Men: The Ultimate Guide

Chest Workouts & Chest Exercises For Men: The Ultimate Guide

Chest workouts, ah, how we love them!

For many of us among the male training crowd, chest day has become synonymous with a sense of joy and euphoria only typically associated with either the consumption of a giant steak or receiving a text from an attractive girl.

Whenever I ask someone what his favorite muscle group is, the answer will typically be chest, followed by arms as a close second. This is simply because this muscle group really helps to enhance everything that ultimately goes into making a male visually masculine.

When we guys train our chest, we’re directly emphasizing the areas of our body that really stand out the most (including the shoulders and arms) thus leaving us feeling pretty incredible as we leave the gym with a giant pump.

This is all well and good in theory of course, but after several months of performing what you deem to be the best chest exercises and seemingly getting nowhere in a hurry - it’s maybe time for you to consider that something isn’t quite right.

That’s why we’re here now - let’s get to the bottom of chest training with this 101 guide to carving the biggest, well-balanced chest possible!

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Chest Muscles: Unravelling The Myths Behind Chest Training

One of the major issues when it comes to effective chest training comes in the form of fully understanding how the chest works, and in turn, how to make it develop in a well-rounded manner.

There’s a distinct possibility (if you’ve been listening to “gym floor” talk for any length of time at least) that you’ve formed a completely inaccurate vision of the chest as a whole and how it works.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been training for either, it could have been ten years or ten months - it doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to having your mind molded by what you hear in the locker room.

Ask any guy about training chest, and he’s likely to start reeling off barbell bench presses for gaining mass, cable fly movements for targeting the “middle” of the chest and incline smith machine pressing for developing the upper chest.

Depending on your diet and training mentality, simply integrating these exercises and basing your ancillary movements around these angles could theoretically help you to develop a respectably sized chest.

So what’s wrong with that you ask? Simply put, it’s a completely flawed thought process and it’s far from the all-encompassing, well-informed mentality that’s going to deliver the chest you really want.

What’s incredibly interesting to note is that some of the most effective bodybuilders of all time (Dorian Yates and Arnold Schwarzenegger for instance) had great, well-balanced pec muscles, though there is no evidence to suggest that they fully understood the anatomy of their chest.

It would be easy to say at this point that “they obviously knew what they were doing”, but a closer look into their training reveals that they actually included many other exercises as part of their routine (including dumbbell pullovers to name but one), and performed their exercises in such a way that their chests developed to an incredible degree.

There was certainly some element of luck involved as they probably had no idea that the manner in which they were training and the additional secondary exercises they were performing were having such a dramatic impact!

These individuals trained in a fashion that has sadly gone a little out of fashion, and people have almost adopted the exercises people like this swore by the most, while ignoring the secondary exercises (and primary ones) being performed on additional training days that were having a huge impact on the appearance of the chest in their own right.

As such, our scope for chest training in the modern day tends to be a little caged, and if you’re willing to expand your mind a little - you’re going to find that your chest workouts will take you to a whole new level of chest development on the whole from now on.

Are you ready to make some changes? Let’s move onwards and upwards!

What Goes Into Making A Chest?

There’s probably nothing at all wrong with the chest exercises you’ve already been performing, but what you’ll fast realize after reading through this article is that you’re going to have to be a strategist if you want to create the massive, well-rounded pecs you’re looking for.

How many parts to the chest are there? How do you train them effectively and what’s best at doing what?

In terms of chest exercises, we’ll soon be touching on a list of the most effective movements out there to develop the chest you’re looking for. In regards to the different areas of the chest - read on to find out more.

Pectoralis Major - Sternocostal Head

The largest of the chest muscles, pec major is divided into two sections.

These sections are the “sternocostal” head and the “clavicular” head. They are named as such due to the area of the body they attach to, and the sternocostal head attaches directly to the sternum, coming out towards the side of the body, near the shoulder.

Due to this being the largest section of the chest, it’s incredibly important that it is successfully targeted in order to develop a well-rounded, full looking chest.

This is actually the area of the chest that tends to get targeted the most during the course of most men’s typical chest training routines, and this is precisely why there aren’t more perfectly chiseled pecs around.

Most men make the mistake of thinking that, due to this being the largest component of the chest, they should only focus on this singular area alone.

Of course, being that there are actually four vital components to the chest all in all, this should immediately expose a glaringly obvious reason as to why many struggle so much to develop certain aspects of their chest - in short, they completely neglect them!

You’ll find that the barbell bench press and flat flys are great for targeting this area of the chest (as with several others) in a roundabout manner, though they do not target it as effectively as some of the other exercise options available do.

As such, it can easily lead to not only this area not reaching its full potential, but the chest in general not quite being stimulated to the necessary level needed for total development.

Pectoralis Major - Clavicular Head

In conjunction with the clavicular head, the secondary pec major section is the clavicular head - named as such due to it connecting directly to the shoulder clavicle underneath the neckline.

This area is prominently involved in incline movements and is absolutely crucial for raising the pectoral muscles “upwards”.

This alone can be one of the main reasons why your chest hasn’t developed to the extent that it could have - you may simply have been emphasizing the sternocostal head far too much with little clavicular head integration in the process.

It’s incredibly important that both sections of the pec major synergize together to create a “full” looking pec muscle - these two areas alone are almost entirely responsible for the outcome of your chest volume.

As you’re shortly going to find out though - there are two other areas of the chest that almost everybody seems to completely neglect but are actually completely vital to the creation of a fully established and voluminous chest.

When looking at the chest from the front, picture the chest as being three-quarters comprised of the sternocostal head from the bottom to the top, with the last quarter being the clavicular head.

It may seem like such a small component may make little difference overall, but in reality, it will help to develop a seamless line between the shoulders and chest overall - to not develop it would simply leave an awkward looking gap in place of (what should be) a solid bridge, made out of pure muscle.

Pectoralis Minor

This is where things start to get complicated - most people simply haven’t heard of the pec minor muscle at all, nor do they have any idea how to target it effectively.

Your pec minor muscle lays underneath your pec major (sternocostal head) and attaches to your rib cage. You can’t actually see it when facing front ways on to the body.

At this point, it would be totally relevant for you to ask why an area that you can’t even see is going to be in any way conducive to the development of your chest overall - it’s a good question too.

What the pec minor actually does is serve to push your chest muscles forward on the whole, thus enhancing the overall “depth” of your chest and making it appear larger.

This is again where it’s appropriate to reference Arnold Schwarzenegger in relation to his preferred method of performing exercises, in this case pec flys. Though it is unlikely that he truly knew why at the time, he knew that performing deep fly movements was one of the cornerstones to developing an enormous chest.

Why though? Well, when most people perform dumbbell flys, they typically don’t go anywhere near deep enough. While this is absolutely fine in terms of engaging the pec major muscles, it’s only when you get to roughly just above parallel that you’re going to start involving the pec minor muscle.

As a result, most men simply never fire off this small but necessary area of their chest, and as such, they completely stunt their overall chest development.

It’s a small but easy mistake to make, but when you consider that many experienced trainees still make it on a daily basis, just imagine how their chest would look now if they had been aware of this from the very beginning of their training journey!

This in part comes from the “heavy lifting” culture we live in, whereas weight comes at the cost of form. Take a look at the way some of the most experienced and well-developed bodybuilders train though - the weight is typically never more than they can handle while executing exercises with perfect technique.

You’ll sometimes see pretty slack form being practiced even by these guys, but there are two elements to consider: one being that they are typically taking a substantial amount of anabolic compounds to enhance development therefore are capable of triggering growth while being less intricate than you or I need to be, and two they would certainly have seen even better development had they been actively using better technique.

No one’s above the “law” of the weight room - correct exercise performance is ultimately going to lead to the best physique possible and this small muscle group is the proof.

Serratus Anterior

This muscle is the “dark horse” of the family and even if you’re one of the enlightened few to have heard about the pec minor, you’re probably going to have no idea about the serratus anterior.

It’s amazing to think, but this one small area, invisible to the human eye (to be honest, even if you were performing an autopsy you’d have to cut through the pec muscles to see it!) has far more to do with your chest development than you can imagine.

This muscle when targeted and developed appropriately pushes the pec minor forward and up, and in turn helps to push the pec major forward and up. This essentially develops a deeper, bigger chest.

One of the main problems with this area however, is targeting it effectively. Only when you perform overhead movements above the shoulder line will you actively force this area to participate in a movement.

Movements that will serve to integrate the serratus anterior fully include any incline pressing or fly movements, though it has to be said that the dumbbell pullover is perhaps the best example of a serratus anterior exercise.

When you consider that incline movements are typically not a priority for the average chest trainee, and dumbbell pullovers rarely if at all play a part in any of their training sessions - it’s easy to see how this area is completely overlooked.

If you want to ensure that your chest is as well rounded and fully developed as possible - you must ensure that you target this area too in conjunction with the other three vital components of the chest.

How many times have you heard guys talking about there being a “top, middle and bottom” area of the chest and discussing the best manner in which to target them individually?

One of the hardest elements of effective chest training for many to get their heads around is that these areas simply don’t exist. Unbelievably, even most of the top-level publications also talk about there being a “middle” chest, when in actual fact, there just isn’t.

Only one area could be described as being the middle of the chest, and that is the gap in between the sternocostal heads of the left and right pec major - they join over the sternum, and it is this “join” that creates the dividing line we all know and love when the pecs start to develop.

However - when most reference the “middle” chest, they are actually referring to a horizontal line in the middle of the chest area running from the far left to the far right of the pec major.

This line simply doesn’t exist being that the pec major muscle only has two sections, neither of which joins across this area.

As such, you may well have been pursuing your ideal chest appearance based on entirely false prefixes up until now - if you’d never read this article, you’d still follow that thought process!

Form Makes Perfect

It’s all well and good knowing about the different areas of the chest as you now do, but what about actually engaging them in the most effective manner possible?

There’s far more to performing an exercise than simply performing an exercise…

During your next chest workout, you need to approach your session structure keeping all of these individual areas of the chest in mind while also ensuring that you perform the exercises needed to target them with the utmost efficiency.

This is one of the greatest flaws in the plan of any would be professional bodybuilder or fitness model - they actually have the right idea and know how to target the various areas of their body effectively, only they don’t manage to do it because they’re using totally ineffective form.

When training your chest, one of the most important elements to consider other than the area you’re targeting is whether or not it’s your chest doing the work, or your shoulders.

You’d be astounded at the number of people who are shoulder dominant when training chest - whether it’s a press or a fly, on the whole (especially with movements like the cable fly) people roll their shoulder girdles too far forward leading to their chest being almost completely omitted from the exercise.

When performing any chest movement, you should ensure that your shoulder blades are firmly pinched together in order to fully expose your chest muscles and integrate them into the movement.

This will ensure that they are the primary force behind the exercise, and your shoulders will take their rightful place as an assistive agent thus fully stimulating the chest fibers for growth.

It’s very easy to subconsciously let the shoulders do most of the work, and usually only the most astute and experienced of trainees will ever notice that their chest isn’t quite as involved as it should be.

It typically takes a great deal of time and practice to perfect the art of full chest integration, but it has to be said that you are now at a distinct advantage due to being aware of this issue in the first place.

Often, it’ll take years of trial and error for someone to fully understand how an exercise should feel - now that you know what to look out for, you know how to “feel” your way through an exercise in an effective manner.

Experience Doesn’t Equate To Perfection

If you feel like your perception was challenged in regards to what actually goes into making a well-rounded chest, then perhaps the hardest element of progression is unlearning what you already know.

It can be hard because you’ve no doubt progressed to a great point already without any of the tips listed in this article, but as we discussed earlier, that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t develop even further.

One of the hardest barriers for many to overcome is opening their mind and treating every day as a learning experience. It’s too easy to allow your ego to make you think that you already know everything there is to know about the development of your body if you’ve managed to get to a respectable point already, but this could be the very reason why you aren’t seeing the results you want at the moment.

There’s never anything wrong with admitting that you could do with a little help - otherwise, how are you supposed to progress? Never think that you’re a fully finished product.

No matter what sport an individual competes in, or how great a fitness model may look - they all know that the key to bringing their A game to their next field meet or photo shoot is to ensure that they’re better than they are right now.

If you’re serious about achieving an amazing chest, then you’re going to need to forget what you’ve done up until now and adopt this well structured, intricate approach to chest exercises and how to implement them into chest workouts from now on.

This isn’t going to DE masculinize you or take away from all of your hard effort to date - it’s simply going to ensure that your effort leads to the maximum level of return possible from every training session you perform.

Are you ready to build an absolutely incredible set of pecs and iron out some of the flaws in your training pattern?

Let’s get to it!

The 25 Best Chest Exercises To Build Your Pecs

Now that you know what a well-rounded chest consists of, it’s now time to effectively target every single one of those areas and carve the set of pecs you’ve always dreamed of having.

You’ll find that through taking a systematic and calculated approach to your training sessions, you can effectively target all four of the areas we discussed a little earlier on.

If you skip any one of these areas as part of your training - you’ll find that you’ll be lacking in at least one area of your chest development, and as such, your pecs won't come to fruition, as they should.

We’ll work through each individual area and list the best exercises for targeting each one, while also including bodyweight push up variations that you can perform without equipment.

The Best Fundamental Chest Exercises

These chest exercises are the best “bang for your buck” chest exercises on the planet and will cover the most ground in terms of the number of chest areas they recruit at once.

These are great all-around mass builders, though keep in mind they need to be used as part of a well-balanced routine rather than being entirely relied upon as go-to sources for the chest in general.

Exercise #1: Barbell bench press

Widely considered by many to be the “king” of chest exercises, the barbell bench press is certainly an incredibly useful movement that anyone looking for serious gains in both mass and strength really needs to utilize.

What’s so great about it? Well, it incorporates more areas (in the chest) at once than any other singular movement other than perhaps the flat dumbbell chest press.

You’ll get great integration of both the sternocostal and clavicular heads of the pec major while also involving the shoulders and triceps heavily. Should you perform this exercise properly (by “feeling” your way through it as described above) you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck from it.

How To: Barbell Bench Press
How to do a barbell bench press

While lying flat on the back on an Olympic bench, proceed to grip the bar with the hands placed just outside shoulder width apart. After unracking the bar, pinch your shoulder blades together tightly.

Proceed to lower the bar down to the nipple line by bending the elbows to a 90-degree angle and keeping them at a 45-degree angle to the body. From this lowered position, extend the arms and raise the bar back to the starting position while leaving a slight bend at the elbows.

What does the barbell bench press work?

This exercise primarily targets the sternocostal head of your pec major muscle though the clavicular head of the pec major, the deltoids, the triceps and arguably the pec minor are also targeted (at the very bottom of the movement) when the exercise is performed with the correct technique.

A few barbell bench press tips:
  • Bench with your chest, not your shoulders! - keep your shoulder blades pinched tightly together at all times while performing this movement
  • At the bottom of the movement, you should try flaring your back muscles while planting your heels into the ground to assist with your power as you drive the bar back up
  • If the weight you lift is so heavy that it overrides your ability to fully engage your chest muscles - lower it. Honestly, this is the most important tip to take on board with this movement as this exercise perhaps more than any other gets ruined as a result of excessive weight being used at the cost of form.

Exercise #2: Dumbbell chest press

You’ll find that some people completely abolish the barbell bench press in favor of performing the dumbbell variant, as they believe it is a more potent exercise in terms of muscular integration.

This is actually true to an extent, but it does come at the cost of potential stimulation (for growth) to the sternocostal head of the pec major muscle being that the intensity level here is never going to quite reach the lofty heights of the barbell variant due to the load being lifted necessarily being roughly 15% lower in volume overall.

What it lacks in top end intensity it more than makes up for in the integration of stabilization muscles due to the added stability needed to safely guide each arm throughout the movement.

One of the main benefits here is the ability to go down an inch or so lower than the barbell bench press thus integrating the pec minor muscle successfully, though it has to be said that even if you practice this exercise with flawless form (blades pinched together) you should never try to go “below” the chest line as many do.

One of the primary reasons many perform a dumbbell chest press is because they associate it with this “expanded” range of movement, but there is a huge biomechanical flaw that actually stops this belief dead in its tracks. As soon as you go below the pec line, it’s actually your shoulders that become the driving force behind the movement.

You’ll hear people debating this until the end of time, but unfortunately, the human anatomy really does dictate that this is an unavoidable eventuality should you go more than an inch (less in some cases) below the horizontal line.

What you should focus more on is the top of the movement. You can bring the dumbbells closer together (while still leaving a space roughly one dumbbell wide) and perform a squeeze that would be impossible with a barbell. This really helps to create that awesome separation (the vertical line down the middle) at the sternum that you’ll no doubt be looking for.

How To: Dumbbell Chest Press
How to do a dumbbell chest press

Lie flat on the back on a flat bench, with one dumbbell in each hand elevated above the body in line with the shoulders.

Bend at the elbows while lowering the dumbbells down to the nipple line - the elbows should be at a 45-degree angle to the body when in this position.

While ensuring your shoulder blades are pinched firmly together, extend the arms and raise the dumbbells until they are one dumbbell width apart from each other and squeeze the chest muscles together.

What does the dumbbell chest press work?

This is a great exercise for targeting the pec major sternocostal head and pec minor when performed with a full range of movement as well as the clavicular head of the pec major, the deltoids, triceps and several other stabilizer muscles in the core / shoulder array.

A few dumbbell chest press tips:
  • Always keep your shoulder blades pinched tightly together throughout the movement
  • Never go below the chest line (ensure the lowest point you reach places your chest in line with the middle of each dumbbell)
  • Never use a weight you can’t control and perform each rep slowly, using effective control

Exercise #3: Chest dips

Before we elaborate any further on this movement, there is a difference between chest dips and triceps dips!

Should you perform a dip with the body in a fully vertical position with a narrow grip, this is going to integrate the triceps and shoulders in a potent fashion though your chest integration will certainly suffer.

When you perform a chest dip, your hands are placed wider apart and the body should lean forward to a 45-degree angle (you can even ask someone to grab your feet and raise your body to just below the horizontal line.)

Don’t make the mistake of associating the two because you’ll stunt your chest development if you do!

How to Do a Chest Dip | Chest Workout
How to do a chest dip

In order to perform a chest dip, you need to suspend yourself on a set of dipping bars by gripping them with a wide stance and allowing them to take your entire body weight.

Lean forward and lock the legs together, then bend at the elbows and slowly lower the body until they reach a 90-degree angle, proceed to return to the starting position by slowly elevating the body while ensuring you leave a slight bend at the elbows at all times.

What does the chest dip work?

You’re going to target the pec major sternocostal head, clavicular head and pec minor should you ensure the elbows reach a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.

A few chest dip tips:
  • Ensure you never rush the movement, always lower the body with control to avoid throwing yourself off balance
  • At the top of the movement, never fully lock the elbows out as this can lead to hyperextension
  • You can add weight to the exercise progressively, but ensure you have mastered the bodyweight variant with the utmost control and technique standards first

Exercise #4: Flat dumbbell flys

Flat dumbbell flys are a fantastic way to target the sternocostal head of the pec major in conjunction with the pec minor muscle when performed effectively.

One of the common mistakes made when “flying” is to not leave a gap in between the dumbbells at the top of the movement while performing a squeeze as this helps to develop the dividing line across the sternum in between the pec major muscles.

How To: Dumbbell Flys On A Flat Bench
How to do a dumbbell fly:

To perform a dumbbell fly, lie flat in the back on a flat bench and hold a pair of dumbbells above the body in line with the shoulder. They should be facing inwards (towards each other.)

With a slight bend at the elbows, proceed to lower the arms down until they are in line with the shoulders and the upper body is in a “crucifix” position. Proceed to raise the arms back up until the dumbbells are in line with the shoulders again and perform a squeeze.

What do dumbbell flys work?

Dumbbell flys work the sternocostal head of the pec major in conjunction with the pec minor at the very bottom of the movement - for their pec minor integration alone they are certainly worth including as part of your chest routine.

A few dumbbell flys tips:
  • Ensure the shoulder blades are tightly pinched together to fully access the chest muscles
  • Never go more than one inch below the shoulder line at the bottom of the movement to avoid the shoulders taking over
  • Always perform a squeeze at the top of the movement in order to fully round off your pec major involvement

The Best Upper Chest Exercises

An often-overlooked aspect of the chest, the upper chest is what really helps to develop the full, well-rounded appearance that most men's chests truly lack.

By working the top of your chest successfully, you’ll elevate the pec muscles on the whole, thus ensuring that you’ve got the most voluminous chest possible.

Read on to find out what the most effective upper chest exercises are.

Exercise #5: The incline barbell bench press

This is hands down one of the most important exercises in the chest training repertoire and not performing it will put your chest in great peril!

As we were discussing earlier, most men tend to focus on the flat bench pressing movements as opposed to either the decline or incline exercises - as such, they totally neglect their overall chest development and stunt their appearance potential.

This exercise alone needs to be included as a bare minimum during your chest workouts if you’re serious about getting the chest you’ve always wanted.

How To: Barbell Incline Chest Press
How to do an incline barbell bench press:

Set a bench to roughly two notches above the flat setting so that it slopes upwards (to go any higher is realistically unnecessary as the movement then starts to become shoulder dominant.)

While lying flat on the back, elevate a barbell above the body in line with the shoulders, while pinching the shoulder blades together tightly, begin to lower the bar down towards the nipple line by bending the elbows to 90 degrees.

Once there, return the bar to the starting position while ensuring there is a slight bend in the elbows at all times.

What does the incline barbell bench press work?

You’ll successfully target the clavicular head of the pec major, part of the sternocostal head and (very importantly) the serratus anterior too. These are areas you simply can’t access fully with flat movements.

A few incline barbell bench press tips:
  • One of the most important aspects of performing any incline movement is ensuring that the incline isn’t too exaggerated - only ever set the bench at roughly two notches above flat
  • Ensure you take care when raising the bar as there is a higher risk of your shoulders rotating backward and thus dislocating from this angle
  • Ensure the bar touches the nipple line as per the flat bench press, many assume the bar must rest at a higher point but the same rules apply here

Exercise #6: The incline dumbbell chest press

As per the flat dumbbell chest press, the incline dumbbell chest press affords a greater range of movement and allows you to delve into the pec minor muscles while still successfully utilizing the clavicular head of the pec major and the serratus anterior.

You’ll also get the added benefit of a squeeze at the top of the movement to help carve the middle line - this isn’t really possible with the barbell variant.

How to Do Incline Dumbbell Bench Press | Chest Workout
How to do an incline dumbbell chest press:

As per the barbell variant, set a bench to roughly two notches above the flat setting and lay flat on the back.

While holding a dumbbell in each hand above the shoulder girdles, proceed to bend at the elbows and lower them down to the nipple line with control. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle at this point.

Return to the top while leaving a gap in between the dumbbells (the gap should be roughly the size of one dumbbell) and squeeze the chest muscles together.

What does the incline dumbbell chest press work?

This exercise will successfully utilize the clavicular head of the pec major muscles while also developing the stabilizer muscles in the chest and shoulder array. You’ll get some great pec minor involvement should you go to the relevant depth, and your serratus anterior will come into play too.

This is a great all around upper chest exercise.

A few incline dumbbell chest press tips:
  • Never rush the movement, the risk of shoulder dislocation as a result of destabilization is much higher with an incline dumbbell chest press than the barbell variant
  • Ensure you try to push your chest out as you squeeze your shoulder blades together throughout the movement
  • Control is key - always ensure you perform each rep slowly and effectively to fully integrate your chest muscles

Exercise #7: Incline dumbbell flys

As well as the integration of the clavicular head of the pec major muscle, you’ll want to ensure that you include the incline fly due to its ability to target the pec minor muscle too along with every other benefit of an incline movement.

How To: Incline Dumbbell Fly
How to do an incline dumbbell fly:

To perform this exercise, simply lay flat on an inclined bench (set a couple of notches above the flat setting) and hold a pair of dumbbells above the body in line with the shoulders.

With the dumbbells facing each other, proceed to lower the arms while keeping a slight bend at the elbows until they are in line with the side of the shoulders. Proceed to raise the arms back to the starting position and ensure you leave a gap in between the dumbbells at the top while squeezing the chest.

What does the incline dumbbell fly work?

You’ll successfully target the clavicular head of the pec major in conjunction with the pec minor and serratus anterior.

A few incline dumbbell fly tips:
  • As with flat flys, never go too low (below one inch beneath the shoulder line) as this will lead to the shoulders taking over the movement
  • Always ensure your shoulder blades are pinched tightly together throughout
  • Ensure you leave a gap at the top and squeeze to maximize separation results between the pec major muscles at the sternum

Exercise #8: Cable crossover flys

Cable crossover flys are typically associated with the middle chest, though interestingly, while they do incorporate this element - they actually target the clavicular head of the pec major muscles in a potent manner too.

One of the common issues with this movement is that when people perform it, they often roll their shoulder girdles too far forward meaning that their shoulders become the primary focus of the exercise as opposed to the chest.

How To: High Cable Chest Fly
How to do a cable crossover fly:

To perform a cable fly, start with the cable pulley handles placed at the highest point on the cable poles. Ensure you have one handle attachment on each side.

Start facing away from the cable machine with one handle in each hand, and extend the arms out to the side and up so that the body is in a crucifix position. Step one foot out in front of the body, and while leaving a slight bend at the elbows, proceed to bring the handles down and together in front of the body.

Squeeze at the bottom of the movement, and proceed to return the cable handles back to the starting position.

What does the cable fly work?

Cable flys are great for targeting the clavicular head of the pec major muscle, while also integrating the pec minor at the bottom of the movement.

There’s some great sternocostal integration provided you perform the squeeze at the end of the exercise.

A few cable fly tips:
  • Always ensure that you pinch the shoulder blades together tightly throughout the movement
  • Don’t forget to add the squeeze at the end of the movement for added pec major involvement
  • Never extend the arms too far backward as this could dislocate the shoulders

The Best Lower Chest Exercises

Bearing in mind that many people believe there are three sections to the chest (the top, middle and bottom) - typical perception on how a “lower” chest exercise works is a bit of a myth.

In actual fact, what many deem to be the lower chest is actually the sternocostal head of the pec major muscle, and there is no better movement to target this area directly than a decline press or fly exercise.

Whereas a flat chest pressing movement will certainly integrate this aspect of the chest, decline movements prioritize it thus making them an essential addition to your chest workouts.

Exercise #9: Decline barbell bench press

The decline barbell bench press functions in a similar manner to the flat barbell bench press variant in that it allows you to lift the largest load possible, thus potentially stimulating the fibers in the target area more effectively for pure mass development.

How To: Barbell Decline Bench Press
How to do a decline barbell bench press:

Set a bench so that it is two notches below the flat setting, and proceed to elevate the bar so that it is above the body, in line with the shoulders.

Bend the elbows and slowly lower the bar down to the nipple line, before slowly extending the arms again (you must still ensure that you leave a slight bend at the elbows) and returning to the starting position.

What does the decline barbell bench press work?

You’ll successfully target the sternocostal head of the pec major muscle primarily, with some pec minor integration at the bottom of the movement.

A few decline barbell bench press tips:
  • There is no need to exaggerate the decline angle as this will lead to you targeting the shoulders as opposed to the chest
  • Ensure you keep your shoulder blades pinched together firmly throughout the movement to expose your chest
  • Make sure the bar touches down on the nipple line (some people aim more for the sternum) as this will successfully integrate the chest muscles in a well-rounded manner

Exercise #10: Decline dumbbell chest press

In conjunction with achieving all of the benefits you’ll achieve when performing the barbell variant of the decline chest press, you’re also going to target the pec minor muscles at the very bottom of the exercise.

As ever using dumbbells means that the stabilization muscles surrounding the chest and shoulder areas are also going to fully integrate themselves in order to help keep the arms stable.

Instructional Fitness - Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
How to do a decline dumbbell chest press:

In order to perform the decline dumbbell chest press, set a bench so that it is just slightly below the flat setting, and lie flat on the back while holding a pair of dumbbells above the body, in line with the shoulders.

Proceed to bend the elbows and lower the dumbbells until they fall just in line with the nipples at the side of the body.

Return the dumbbells to the starting position and bring them inwards (while still ensuring there is a slight gap) while squeezing the chest at the same time to integrate the pec major muscles fully and emphasize the sternal joining line.

What does the decline dumbbell chest press work?

You’re going to target the sternocostal head of the pectoralis major while successfully integrating the clavicular head and pec minor muscle at the bottom of the movement.

As ever, the shoulders and triceps are also involved as assistor muscles.

A few decline dumbbell chest press tips:
  • Always lower the dumbbells in a slow and controlled fashion to avoid destabilization as it can be tricky to balance in this position
  • The squeeze at the end of the movement is a must if you want to ensure your sternocostal head involvement is maximized
  • In this position now more than ever, you must ensure that your chest is exposed by pinching the shoulder blades back tightly

Exercise #11: Decline dumbbell flys

Decline dumbbell flys are fantastic for targeting the sternocostal head of the pec major while also implementing the pec minor successfully.

How To: Decline Dumbbell Fly
How to do a decline dumbbell fly:

Place a bench in the decline position, and lie flat on the back with a pair of dumbbells held above the body in line with the shoulders.

While ensuring the dumbbells are facing each other and the shoulder blades are tightly pinched together, proceed to lower the arms down so that they are outstretched while leaving a slight bend at the elbows.

From this position, return the arms upwards while leaving a slight gap in between the dumbbells and squeezing the chest muscles together.

What does the decline dumbbell fly work?

Decline dumbbell flys implement the sternocostal head of the pec major while also helping to develop the pec minor muscles. There is some clavicular head involvement though it is fairly minimal to say the least.

A few decline dumbbell fly tips:
  • Always keep the shoulder blades tightly pinched together to expose the chest
  • Never lift more than you can handle as shoulder dislocation in this position is a fairly high risk
  • Do not take the dumbbells below the chest line as this will lead to the shoulders taking over the movement

Exercise #12: Lower position cable flys

This variant of the fly is a brilliant lower chest exercise and should be included as part of any decent chest training routine regularly to assist with total chest development.

How To: Low Cable Chest Fly
How to do a lower position cable fly:

To perform this exercise, set the cable pulleys at the lowest position possible and ensure a cable handle is attached to each one. Proceed to grab a handle in each hand and turn to face away from the cable machine.

With the arms outstretched, raise the cable handles up and out towards the front of the body (in line with the sternum) and squeeze the chest muscles together.

Make sure there is a slight bend at the elbow throughout the exercise and the shoulder blades are tightly pinched together to ensure optimum chest exposure.

What does the lower position cable fly work?

The lower position cable fly integrates the sternocostal head of the pec major muscle and is particularly great for developing the joining line in between the pec major muscles.

A few lower position cable fly tips:
  • Always ensure your shoulder blades are tightly pinched together with this movement, as it’s very easy to roll the shoulders forward and completely remove the chest from the equation in the process.
  • The squeeze at the top of this movement is vital, never forget it if you want to focus on that awesome central line in the chest
  • Ensure you select a weight that allows you to achieve the squeeze we previously mentioned - it’s easy to overladen yourself with this exercise thus not allowing you to achieve a full range of movement

The Best Inner Chest Exercises

Targeting the inner chest can be quite tricky and typically relies on you using the appropriate technique when performing a plethora of other chest exercises, though some movements are actually fantastic for targeting the middle of the chest in their own right.

Check out the following list of amazing exercises to help create the highly sought after line of separation in between the pec muscles.

Exercise #13: Close grip barbell bench press

This is, without doubt, a triceps exercise (or that’s at least how it’s typically used) but the close grip bench press is actually fantastic for assisting in the development of the central chest line.

How To: Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
How to do the close grip barbell bench press:

To perform this movement, simply set a bench to the flat position and lie flat on the back. Place your hands so that they are just inside the shoulder girdles, and proceed to lift the bar away from the rack.

Bend the elbows and slowly lower the bar down to the nipple line before returning to the extended position. Leave a slight bend in the elbows at the top of the movement and squeeze the chest muscles together.

What does the close grip barbell bench press work?

This exercise is great for targeting the triceps and the sternocostal head of the pec major (the pressure is placed inwards, and towards the middle.)

A few close grip barbell bench press tips:
  • Ensure you never place the hands too close together as this is a common mistake - just inside of the shoulder girdles will suffice
  • Never neglect the squeeze at the top of the movement to maximize the effect of this exercise
  • Always pay attention to your shoulder blade position and ensure they are tightly squeezed together

Exercise #14: Dumbbell “squeeze” press

This exercise is a great alternative to the barbell close grip bench press and will target the inner walls of your pec major muscle very effectively.

Squeeze Presses To Develop Your Chest | Day #63 WellFit 365
How to do the dumbbell squeeze press:

In order to successfully perform the dumbbell squeeze press, lie flat on the back (with a bench set to the flat position) and elevate two dumbbells above the body in line with the shoulders.

Proceed to close the gap so that the dumbbells are touching each other (while facing each other too) and start to bend at the elbows. Slowly lower the dumbbells down so that they rest just above the sternum and the elbows are at 90 degrees.

Extend the arms until the dumbbells return to the starting position and squeeze the chest muscles together. Ensure there is a slight bend at the elbows.

A few dumbbell squeeze press tips:
  • Ensure the shoulder blades are pinched tightly together throughout the movement
  • Lower the dumbbells with slow control to avoid destabilization
  • Make sure you squeeze at the top of the movement to integrate the inner walls of the pec major

Exercise #15: Mid level cable flys

This cable fly variant is fantastic for targeting the inner walls of the sternocostal head of the pec major and should become a go-to exercise as part of your chest workouts in order to lead to full development.

How To: Middle Cable Chest Fly
How to do a mid level cable fly:

In order to perform a mid level cable fly, start with the cable pulleys set in the middle of the cable tower and ensure both sides have a pulley handle attached to them.

Grab a handle in each hand and turn around to face away from the cable pulley. While ensuring the shoulder blades are firmly pinched together, ensure the hands are stretched out towards the side of the body in a “crucifix” pose.

Close the gap with your hands and bring the handles out so that they face each other in front of your body (in line with the sternum.)

Twist the handles slightly while turning the palms upwards and squeezing the chest, before returning to the starting position.

What does the mid level cable fly work?

You’ll primarily target the pec major sternocostal head, especially the inner walls. You’ll also successfully implement the pec minor muscles when the arms are fully outstretched.

A few mid level cable fly tips:
  • Your shoulder blade position will be crucial to the success of this exercise - always ensure they are tightly pinched together
  • Make sure you add the squeeze to the end of the movement in order to target your inner pec major walls
  • Never extend too far backward as this will hyperextend the arms and potentially lead to dislocation

The Best Push Ups For Chest

Believe it or not, you can actually target the chest very effectively just by using your body weight at home (and the creative implementation of some of your furniture!)

We’re now going to show you the most effective push ups to target your chest in a roundabout manner, ensuring you get great all encompassing development.

Exercise #16: The standard push up

This exercise is the bodyweight equivalent of the flat barbell bench press - no home based chest routine would be complete without it.

You’ll successfully target your pec major (both the sternocostal and clavicular heads), and your pec minor to a minimal extent when you perform the movement with a full range.

The Perfect Push Up - Do it right!
How to do the standard push up:

To perform the standard push up, rest your body weight across the tip toes and hands while keeping your body in a completely straight line. Ensure the hands are placed directly in line with the front of the shoulders.

Bend at the elbows, and lower the body until they reach a 90-degree angle and the body is suspended roughly one inch above the floor. Extend the arms and return the body to the starting position.

What does the standard push up work?

When performing the standard push up you’ll target an even mix of the sternocostal head of the pec major, shoulders and triceps. You will get some pec minor involvement at the very bottom of the movement and a little clavicular head integration too though it will be to a far lesser extent than the sternocostal head.

A few standard push up tips:
  • Ensure your back stays straight throughout the movement
  • Never fully lock your elbows out at the top of the movement
  • Always aim to go down low enough so that the body rests ideally between 1-2 inches above the ground

Exercise #17: The wide hand push up

This is a great push up variation for targeting the side of your pecs and involving the pec minor more than the standard position at the very bottom of the exercise due to the arms being placed wide apart.

How to Do a Wide Grip Push-Up | Chest Workout
How to do the wide hand push up:

To perform the wide hand push up, simply adopt a normal push up position by resting your body weight across the tip toes and palms of the hands, then proceed to stretch the hands out to the side of the body so that they are as wide apart as possible (close to a dumbbell fly hand position in terms of width.)

Now simply bend at the elbows until the body lowers and rests between 1-2 inches above the ground before returning to the starting position.

What does a wide hand push up work?

You’ll get some great sternocostal head pec major integration here though the primary benefit to doing this exercise is to engage the pec minor muscles in a manner that’s not possible when performing the normal push up.

A few wide hand push up tips:
  • Never go so wide that you can’t maintain your balance
  • Avoid touching the floor completely at any point as this will release tension and defeat the purpose of the exercise
  • Always keep the back straight throughout and never allow the rear to dip

The Best Push Ups For Upper Chest

Targeting the upper chest without equipment can seem a little tricky, but fear not! It’s totally possible, and by incorporating the push up variations listed here you’ll find that it’s actually a breeze.

Exercise #18: The V push up (aka pike push up)

This is a slightly regressed version of the  “handstand” push up variant - it’s going to allow for a great level of control while effectively targeting the upper chest in a potent manner.

The Pike Push-Up Tutorial
How to do a V push up:

For this movement, adopt a standard push up position with your body weight balancing across your tiptoes and hands. Proceed to raise the rear upwards so that you form a 45-degree angle at the hips.

With the rear raised throughout, bend at the elbows and slowly lower the body until it rests between 1-2 inches above the ground, then extend the arms and return to the starting position.

What does a V push up work?

The V push up is a fantastic way to target the clavicular aspect of the pec major muscle (as well as the deltoids) and also integrates the serratus anterior. There is some sternocostal head (pec major) involvement though most of the pressure is placed on the clavicular head.

A few V push up tips:
  • Ensure you reach a minimum of a 45-degree bend with the hips otherwise this will simply become a normal push up
  • The hands must remain directly underneath the shoulders at all times, never be tempted to “walk” them forward due to the higher position
  • Lock in your body position before starting as it is easy to fall forward on this movement if you are not secure

Exercise #19: The decline push up

This exercise really isn’t as hard as it sounds and simply involves you implementing either a chair or a bench. You’re going to really hammer the clavicular aspect of the pec major with this exercise as well as getting a little more serratus anterior involvement than with a “V” push up.

How To: Decline Push-Up
How to do a decline push up:

This exercise is very similar in nature to a V push up - all you’ll need to do is place your tiptoes onto either a chair or a bench so that your body slopes downwards and your body weight rests on the palms of your hands.

While keeping the back totally straight, proceed to bend at the elbows until they reach 90 degrees and the upper chest lowers until it is roughly 1-2 inches above the ground. Extend the arms and return the body to the starting position.

What does the decline push up work?

You’ll target the clavicular head of the pec major muscle as well as benefiting from some great serratus anterior involvement too.

A few decline push up tips:
  • Ensure the hands always remain directly underneath the shoulder girdles at all times
  • Always keep the spine in one straight line when performing this movement
  • Ensure your chosen piece of furniture is firmly rooted into the ground before performing this movement

Exercise #20: The wide hand decline push up

This is very similar to the decline push up except you’re going to have a very wide hand position in order to target the pec minor muscles in conjunction with the clavicular head of the pec major.

How to Do a Wide Grip Push-Up | Chest Workout

Note: This is the same video as the standard wide grip push up though your feet will be suspended on a bench

How to do a wide hand decline push up:

In order to perform this exercise, place your tiptoes on a chair or bench and suspend your body weight on your hands. While keeping your back straight, “walk” your hands out so that they are as wide as possible (comparable to a dumbbell fly position) and proceed to bend at the elbows.

Once the elbows reach 90 degrees and the top of the chest rests between 1-2 inches above the ground, extend the arms and return to the starting position.

What does a wide hand decline push up work?

This exercise targets the clavicular head of the pec major muscle while also integrating the pec minor muscle when performed with full range of movement.

A few wide hand decline push up tips:
  • Careful not to spread the hands too wide as this could lead to shoulder dislocation
  • Always take your time when lowering the body to ensure that you do not lose your balance and fall over
  • Try to squeeze your chest muscles together at the top of the movement to assist in the development of the sternocostal division line between the pec major muscles

The Best Push Ups For Lower Chest

Slightly more vexing for some is the successful isolation of the sternocostal head of the pec major when you’re not using any equipment, however, as with the incline variants this area is actually very easily targeted as we’ll now show you.

Exercise #21: The incline push up

You’ll need to use a chair or bench to perform these two movements, but that’s obviously not going to be much of a problem if you’re at home or even in the park. This is a great exercise for placing stress on the sternocostal head of the pec major.

How to Do an Incline Push-Up | Chest Workout
How to do an incline push up:

In order to perform an incline push up, you’ll need a chair. Proceed to place your hands shoulder width apart on the surface of the chair, then elevate your body and rest your body weight across your tip toes and hands.

From this position, bend the elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle while lowering the body so that the bottom of your chest hovers between 1-2 inches above the surface of the chair, then extend the arms and return to the starting position.

What does the incline push up work?

You’re going to successfully target the sternocostal head of the pec major with this exercise, more so than a standard push up. Due to it being a chest pressing movement, there will also of course be some deltoid and triceps involvement, though this really is a great way to carve out the largest aspect of your chest array.

A few incline push up tips:
  • Always ensure your shoulder blades are tightly pinched together in order to fully expose the sternocostal head of your pec major
  • Never allow the rear to dip as this will place a great deal of pressure on the lower back - your spine must remain straight throughout
  • It’s easy to strain the neck in this position - always look up to ensure that you never pull or strain your trap muscles

Exercise #22: The wide hand incline push up

This is a great variant of the decline push up with a wider hand angle to isolate the pec minor muscle as much as the sternocostal head of the pec major.

How to Do a Wide Grip Push-Up | Chest Workout

Note: This video is for the standard wide grip push up, the only difference being that your hands will be placed on a bench

How to do a wide hand incline push up:

To perform this exercise you’re going to need a bench. Place your hands on the bench in a wide position (think the lower position of a dumbbell fly) and proceed to elevate your body, placing your body weight across your tiptoes and hands.

Bend the elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle while lowering the body until the bottom of the chest is between 1-2 inches above the bench surface, then extend the arms and return to the starting position.

A few hand incline push up tips:
  • Always ensure you never stretch out too wide as this could dislocate the shoulders
  • Take care when lowering to avoid injury via collision with the bench
  • Always ensure your bench is firmly secure on the floor surface to avoid slipping mid exercise

The Best Push Ups For Inner Chest

Arguably the hardest of all the chest areas to target using only your bodyweight to stimulate growth, the inner chest really requires a great deal of control and a high level of technique delivery in order to target it successfully.

Read on to find out how you can successfully target this area at home.

Exercise #23: The diamond push up

A challenging but highly rewarding exercise, the diamond push up will successfully target the inner walls of the sternocostal head of the pec major thus helping to emphasize the dividing line we all know and love.

How To: Diamond Push-Up
How to do the diamond push up:

In order to perform the diamond push up, you’ll need to adopt a normal push up position by resting the body weight across the tiptoes and hands to start with. Once in position, bring your hands together so that they form a “diamond” position directly underneath the sternum.

Bend at the elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle and the body hovers between 1-2 inches above the ground, then extend the arms and return to the starting position.

What does the diamond push up work?

You’re going to target the sternocostal head of the pec major nicely with this exercise, but due to the hand position, the pressure will be placed on the inner walls, thus allowing you to place a massive emphasis on the vertical dividing line in between the pecs.

A few diamond push up tips:
  • Ensure that you always keep the shoulder blades tightly pinched together while maintaining a straight back when performing this exercise as it is easy for the rear to dip thus placing pressure on the lower back
  • Never twist your hands too far inwards when forming the “diamond” shape with your hands as this can place a great degree of pressure on the wrists
  • Take your time on the way up from the lowered position as rushing the exercise can lead to shoulder dislocation at the top

Exercise #24: Incline diamond push ups

This variation of the diamond push up is fantastic for enhancing your sternocostal head involvement and potentially further developing the vertical separation line between your pec muscles.

Incline Diamond Push Up
How to do an incline diamond push up:

In order to perform a decline diamond push up you’re going to need a chair. Place your hands in a “diamond” position on the surface of the chair, and proceed to rest your body weight on your tiptoes.

Bend at the elbows, and lower the body until they reach a 90-degree position and the bottom of the chest hovers between 1-2 inches above the chair surface. Extend the arms and return to the starting position.

What does the incline diamond push up work?

This variant of the push up is an amazing way to target the sternocostal head of your pec major almost exclusively while placing pressure in the middle of the area to bring out the vertical pec major dividing line in greater detail.

A few incline diamond push up tips:
  • Ensure you never rotate the wrists too far inwards when forming the “diamond” shape with the hands
  • Always ensure your bench or chair is anchored into the ground properly to avoid slipping and causing injury
  • Make sure your shoulder blades are firmly pinched together throughout the exercise to avoid straining the neck due to forward shoulder rotation

Am I Missing Something?

As a matter of fact, yes you are!

You’re missing an effective serratus anterior exercise. Admittedly, all incline movements target this area, but if you want to ensure you cover it fully you’re going to need to include the dumbbell pullover.

Exercise #25: Serratus anterior exercise - the dumbbell pullover

This is an amazing movement not only for developing core strength but for targeting the all-important serratus anterior muscle and adding depth to your chest.

How To: Dumbbell Pull-Over (Target Chest Or Lats)
How to do the dumbbell pullover:

To perform a dumbbell pullover, lie on a flat bench and elevate a singular dumbbell above the body with the hands placed on the base of the top section in a diamond position (around the circular handle.)

Proceed to stretch the arms backward until the dumbbell lowers to a point where it is in line with the top of the head. Ensure a slight bend is left in the arms throughout the movement, and return to the starting position. You must ensure your shoulder blades are tightly pinched together from beginning to end.

What does the dumbbell pullover work?

Believe it or not, the dumbbell pullover is a lat (back) isolation exercise.

You probably didn’t see that one coming! It has to be said that this exercise is immensely effective at targeting the serratus anterior, though it is truly at its best as part of a back workout so you’re going to need to ensure that you train back at least 48 hours away from any session that involves its usage.

Arnie in particular saw great chest development from incorporating it into his routine due to the added depth it granted. It’ll work for you too provided you implement it sensibly.

A few dumbbell pullover tips:
  • Never use a weight you can’t control properly as you will risk shoulder dislocation at the lowest point of the exercise
  • Make sure your shoulder blades are pinched tightly together in order to provide stability and integrate the serratus anterior fully
  • Ensure the dumbbell never goes past the sternum when raising it back for the upper part of the movement as this will totally release tension on the target area

The 9 Best Chest Workouts For Awesome Pecs

We’ve left no stone unturned in regards to chest exercises and which ones are going to be the most effective for targeting the specific areas of your pecs.

You’d be forgiven if you thought that chest training would be a little simpler than this originally, but that’s precisely why so many people aren’t seeing the level of chest development they would like.

Most men really have no idea that the pecs, and in particular bringing them out fully is such a strategic operation - but it really is.

Top level bodybuilders like Dorian Yates always have a vastly different outlook to chest training when compared to the typical “gym grunts” you may hear discussing chest exercises and how best to perform them.

It’s this “pro” level mindset this article is going to help you adopt in order to develop the best chest possible - these practices work for Olympia level athletes, so they’ll certainly work for you.

Now that you know what the best movements are for the respective areas of the chest, let’s piece it all together with a list of the most effective chest workouts you can perform to see maximum results.

It should be noted that one of the keys to consistent progress is variation - whenever you perform one of these routines, ensure you completely change the order in which you perform the exercises the next time you run through it.

Workout #1: Big Chest Workout

This is the “all-rounder”. You’ll develop an even looking, well-balanced chest by performing this workout routine and there won’t be one singular area that gets left out.

As a go-to workout, this is a great choice.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 60 - 90 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be four per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Decline barbell bench press (6-8 reps.)
  • Incline barbell bench press (6-8 reps.)
  • Flat dumbbell chest press (6-8 reps.)
  • Flat dumbbell “squeeze” press (8-10 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Incline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Dumbbell pullovers (10-12 reps.)

Workout #2: Upper Chest Workout

This routine is for developing a well-rounded upper chest with a big focus on the clavicular head of the pec major as well as some serratus anterior involvement. If this is the area you’re lagging in, you should ensure you follow this blueprint on a regular basis.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 60 - 90 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be four per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Incline barbell bench press (6-8 reps.)
  • Incline dumbbell chest press (8-10 reps.)
  • High position cable flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Incline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Dumbbell pullovers (10-12 reps.)

Workout #3: Lower Chest Workout

You’re going to develop a very well rounded serratus anterior pec major head should you follow this workout routine.

It has to be said that it’s often the pec major that’s ironically lagging the most in many men (due to not including any decline movements whatsoever) so this is routine is a must for everybody and should be included on a regular basis as part of your training week in conjunction with the inner and upper chest workouts (or in conjunction with the all round routine.)

All rest periods in between sets will be between 60 - 90 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be four per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Decline barbell bench press (6-8 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell chest press (6-8 reps.)
  • Lower position cable flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Dumbbell “squeeze” presses (8-10 reps.)

Workout #4: Inner Chest Workout

If you want to develop that amazing middle division line in between your pec major muscles then this is absolutely going to be the best way to make it happen - this routine is designed purely to develop the inner walls of the sternocostal head of the pec major thus enhancing the overall “detailing” of your chest area as a whole.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 60 - 90 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be four per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Close grip barbell bench press (6-8 reps.)
  • Dumbbell “squeeze” press (8-10 reps.)
  • Middle position cable flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Flat dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Chest dips (8-10 reps.)

Workout #5: At Home Chest Workout

This is an immensely convenient bodyweight workout you can perform at home in order to maximize your chest gains without having to head out to the gym when you perhaps don’t have time or want your own space.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 30-60 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be five per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Standard push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Wide hand push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Diamond push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • V push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Incline push ups (10-12 reps.)

Workout #6: Dumbbell Chest Workout

This workout is fantastic for a number of reasons, not least because it’s going to give all of your stabilization muscles an incredible workout in conjunction with the main target areas thus improving your overall skeletal integrity and functionality while assisting in effective muscle growth.

It’s also great if you happen to have a home gym setup and will allow you to maximize your chest gains with minimal equipment.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 60 - 90 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be four per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Flat dumbbell chest press (8-10 reps.)
  • Incline dumbbell chest press (8-10 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell chest press (8-10 reps.)
  • Incline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell flys (10-12 reps.)
  • Dumbbell “squeeze” press (8-10 reps.)
  • Dumbbell pullovers (8-10 reps.)

Workout #7: Chest Workout For Mass

This workout is blunt and straight to the point. It’s all about slamming on as much size as possible while covering every aspect of the chest successfully.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 90-120 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be five per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Flat barbell bench press (5-7 reps.)
  • Incline barbell bench press (5-7 reps.)
  • Decline dumbbell chest press (6-8 reps.)
  • Close grip bench press (5-7 reps.)
  • Dumbbell pullovers (6-8 reps.)

Workout #8: All Encompassing Bodyweight Chest Workout

This is to add a little spice into the mix and give you a bodyweight alternative to the “all-around” workout we checked out at the beginning.

This routine is designed to nail your chest from every angle possible and can be done at home though you may prefer to do it in the functional area of your gym where there are plenty of boxes and benches / dip bars readily available for convenience.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 30-60 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be five per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Standard push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Wide hand push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • V push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Decline push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Wide hand incline push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Diamond push ups (10-12 reps.)
  • Chest dips (8-10 reps.)

Workout #9: Bench Press Workout

If you perform this workout regularly you’re going to master the bench press from every angle thus maximizing the structural integrity of your chest as well as delivering impressive size gains.

All rest periods in between sets will be between 180-240 seconds maximum, and rep ranges will be as stated per individual exercise.

All set counts will be six per exercise.

This workout consists of:

  • Flat barbell bench press (4-6 reps.)
  • Decline barbell bench press (4-6 reps.)
  • Incline barbell bench press (4-6 reps.)
  • Close grip bench press (4-6 reps.)

7 Tips To Build The Chest You’ve Always Wanted

This is a quick-fire section to address some of the most common and completely avoidable reasons why you might not be seeing the progress you deserve.

Some of these tips will be obvious to you, whereas some will maybe seem a little irrational at first glance, but once you read on your eyes will open to the intricacy of not only chest training but training every other muscle group successfully in the process.

Tip #1: Free weights aren’t the “best” way to train any muscle group, let alone your chest

Pros like Jay Cutler know that in order to successfully grow any muscle group (including the chest) the best way to do it is via a combination of free weight and machine exercises.

Plate loaded machines typically work your body in a unilateral (one arm at a time) fashion, therefore they’re almost as effective as free weights for directly targeting each side of a muscle and making it develop (and certainly safer when lifting heavier loads.)

If pure strength and functionality are your goals, then free weights it is. If making an area grow is your goal though? You need to use machines as part of your routine regularly in order to fully isolate your chosen muscle group.

They’re great for developing the mind-body connection too, thus improving your ability to “feel” your way through exercises.

Tip #2: Your chest might not be the problem, it might be your back…

This may sound a little crazy, but in order to fully expose your chest when performing an exercise, or even show it off to its fullest extent you’re going to need strong rear delts for the former and a good posture for the latter.

If you don’t train your back in a well-balanced manner (as per this chest guide) then you’ll find that you have neither of those traits in your favor. Especially with the posture aspect, this can lead to you hunching the shoulders forward thus “hiding” your pecs in the process.

This is a serious problem, if you know you’re neglecting your back you need to change that immediately if you want to maximize your chest results.

Tip #3: Drop the weight and focus on your mind-body connection instead

If you do nothing else, you absolutely must adhere to this tip if you want to ensure constant progression.

Your mind-body connection will only develop if you’re willing to invest a little time into properly isolating your target muscle using your mind and “feeling” it as you train.

This is going to require you to drop the weight volume you’re lifting and instead work with a weight that stimulates the area for growth through proper muscular failure as opposed to you simply getting tired due to the weight being heavy. There’s a massive difference.

Tip #4: Stop doing what you’ve always done

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you always are.

This is of course a very simple theory, but it’s completely true. Even after reading this guide, you could well choose three workouts and perform them all by the letter over the next year.

The workouts in question are effective and they’ll lead to some solid results manifesting over the next three months, but eventually they won’t work for you - your body will just get used to them.

Every two months you should aim to totally change up your game via different rep ranges and rep periods, and as a bare minimum, no two sessions should ever be the same. If you’re working with the same blueprint regularly, ensure you completely change the order of the exercises.

Keep your body guessing in order to keep it evolving.

Tip #5: Stop prioritizing the exercises other people think are the best, and develop a mature outlook on chest training

This is truly one of the most important tips anyone could take on board. What other people at the gym think are the best are never the “best”. They’re simply one of many effective exercises for one specific area.

Don’t fall into the trap of peer pressure and heavy benching - learn to think like a tactician and include a mix of all of the exercises stated above if you really want to make some serious chest progress.

Tip #6: Take stock

Changing the order of exercises as part of a workout is one thing, but if you have no idea how much you lifted for instance on each particular exercise, or how many reps you performed - how on earth are you going to know how to progress it during today’s session?

Always keep a log of your workouts and ensure that you know precisely what you achieve during every session. Otherwise, you risk treading over the same ground and not advancing.

Tip #7: Go against the grain

You might still question a few of the tips, exercises, and workout plans you’ve read today based on what you already know - this is all about making changes though.

If you take one positive step in order to advance your chest, make sure you decide to just try adopting some of the principles you’ve read as part of this article.

They might not work for you at all, but the chances are high that they absolutely will (they’re based in pretty flawless science after all) so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply going for it and changing your training a little.

Don’t get stuck on set ideas, this is how people stagnate and is potentially the very reason you’re reading this guide at the moment.

The Most Common Questions About Chest Workouts And Chest Exercises Answered

Just to be completely sure that you know everything you need to know to create the amazing set of pecs you’ve been dreaming of, we’re now going to run through the most common questions people ask about chest training.

You have no doubt been wondering what the answers to these questions are yourself - there’ll be at least one dilemma here that you really want / need the answer to.

With that in mind, this section will further boost your knowledge and help tie together what we’ve covered in this guide in the most practical way possible so that you can start making immediate changes.

Let’s get on with the show.

Q: How to build chest muscles / how to get pecs?

A: First things first, go to freedieting.com and use their daily calorie total calculator. Answer all of the questions honestly. From there, add 500 to your total, then head to the nutrient ratio calculator and select the “moderate” option as this is a great one size fits all nutrient split.

Now you’re ready to build a chest.

Confused? Don’t be - gaining muscle in any area requires nutritional discipline first and foremost and the creation of a calorie surplus to ensure you have enough extra resources to build it.

From there, quite genuinely - you can follow either the “one size fits all” chest program plus a separate focus on the upper and lower chest on rotation every three weeks, or you can split your training across the three angles listed (inner, upper and middle chest) if you’ve got a little experience on a similar three week rotation.

These sessions combined with sensible nutrition will get you the results you need.

Q: How to get a bigger chest?

A: The answer to this question is quite simple. Bluntly put, if you want to get a bigger chest then don’t waste a minute of your time in the gym.

You should focus on developing your foundations first and foremost by using the mass building routine and developing your chest from every angle first with heavy compound movements then implementing some of the more isolation (fly) heavy routines for one month every two months to give your chest a break from the intensity / carve more detail.

Simple is always better when it comes to the developmental phase of any muscle group, as many of the leading pros and training knowledge banks know all too well.

To recap: two months mass building with a focus on compound (multi-joint) movements, followed by one month with some isolation integration.

Repeat the pattern over the course of your first serious year of focusing on an area to establish some well-rooted foundations for further detail work later down the line.

Q: How to work out my pecs?

A: In order to fully target and train your pecs you’re going to have to develop a strong mind-body connection.

Without this vital connection, you’ll simply go through the motions of every exercise you perform rather than actually tearing directly into the fibers of your chest.

Arnold Schwarzenegger knew that this was an absolutely vital part of training, and he cited it as being one of the most important skills for any aspiring bodybuilder to develop. This is going to be the difference between simply performing an exercise, and legitimately making it effective.

First, learn precisely where you should feel an exercise, and then set about “searching” for it with every rep you perform.

Q: How many sets for chest is ideal?

A: As with many questions, there’s not one set answer for this question.

In general, you’re going to want to perform between 3-5 sets per exercise for growth. With that said, no two workouts should ever be the same and set count is one variable that should always be adjusted.

Did you perform four sets on an exercise the last time you did it? Perform five this time. Was it three last time? Four this time.

Keep it varied - all set counts are valid. There’s no wrong number - just make sure you don’t drop below three as a rule of thumb to ensure you stimulate the fibers in the chest adequately.

Q: How to get pecs fast?

A: The fastest route to creating an amazingly balanced natural chest is first to ensure your nutrition is on point (as discussed above) from day one and secondly to follow a well-balanced routine.

That’s it. One of the most important elements needed to develop any muscle group is to understand that there are no shortcuts, and “fast” is a word that you should remove from your vocabulary.

Q: How to build my lower chest / how to work my lower chest?

A: If you’ve read this far, you already know that the “lower” chest you thought existed is actually simply the sternocostal head of your pec major muscle.

With that in mind, you should follow the lower chest routine found in this guide if you want to ensure you’re following the most balanced and well-crafted lower chest routine. Your lower chest is going to develop thick and fast with the inclusion of compound decline presses.

Q: How to build my upper chest / how to work my lower chest?

A: In a similar fashion to your lower chest, your upper chest requires the direct stimulation of the muscle fibers in the clavicular head of the pec major muscle as well as the involvement of the serratus anterior muscle.

In order to target these areas, look no further than the upper chest routine contained in this guide. In general, always include incline pressing movements in order to develop this area thick and fast.

Q: How to build my inner chest / how to work my inner chest?

A: Your inner chest responds well to pressing movements that place the pressure on the inside of the chest wall like close grip bench presses and the “squeeze” press mentioned in the inner chest exercises section.

Flat dumbbell fly movements as well as the middle position cable fly (as mentioned in the inner chest exercise section) will also target this area effectively.

Q: How to build chest mass?

A: Again this one is all about diet first, and using the big compound bench and dumbbell pressing movements as part of your routine regularly if you want to see your overall mass develop fast.

The mass building, bench pressing or general “all-in-one” routine in this guide will all help you to develop mass at an accelerated rate.

Q: How to get a wider chest?

A: Interestingly enough, this dilemma starts with your back.

If you don’t have a wide upper back (and strong upper back muscles in general) then you’ll find that your shoulders roll forward, thus “hiding” your pecs and diminishing their “wingspan” in the process.

A strong and wide upper back is the key to providing the perfect foundation for your chest to develop on, then all you have to do is ensure you use a full range of motion on chest exercises (going all the way down to the bottom of every exercise is especially important) and you’ve got the winning formula for a wide chest.

Q: How long does it take to get pecs?

A: If you’re a total beginner, it’s going to take a solid 6 months of dedication in the gym plus strict nutritional adherence to see a solid set of pecs start to develop. Expect to see a big difference after the first three months.

Q: How to get square pecs / how to get a square chest?

A: If you want to get a perfectly developed set of “square” pecs, you’re going to have to target the pec muscles from every angle possible and leave nothing to chance.

This will involve using the workouts listed in this guide to ensure that (on rotation) you perform an upper, middle, lower and general chest session including fly movements for the pec minor muscles to create a chiseled set of square pecs.

Q: What is the world record for bench press?

A: The IPF bench press world record is 885 lbs. (401.5 kg) and is held by Blaine Sumner.

BLAINE SUMNER 401.5KG (885LBS) IPF BENCH PRESS WORLD RECORD 2016.

Q: What is the average bench press for a man?

A: This is going to depend entirely on your fitness level and body weight, but as a general rule of thumb: aim to bench at least 100% of your bodyweight if you’re between the age of 20-29, with your max lift decreasing by 10% every ten years.

Men’s Health provides a great reference table here.

Q: How to increase my bench press?

A: To get stronger and generally better at something, you’re going to have to specifically focus on that particular aspect of your training in isolation for some time.

You should follow the bench press workout contained in this guide and aim to increase your 3-5 rep max lifts on each exercise by 2.5kg every week.

This slow and steady progression will ensure you can advance almost indefinitely for a period of two months or more. Following this period, take a month off and focus on some split training (the different chest sections) before going back to bench specific training throughout the year in this fashion.

Q: How can I calculate my max bench press?

A: For those who want a more specific reference guide to figure out where they sit in the grand scheme of bench pressing, Muscle & Strength have an excellent table that displays your projected maximum lift capabilities depending on your current lifts.

Q: How much does a bench press bar weigh?

A: A bench press bar will typically weigh 44lbs. (20kg.)

Q: What is the world record for push ups?

A: The most push ups performed non-stop was 10,507 by Minoru Yoshida of Japan in October 1980. It has since never been beaten.

Q: How many push ups should I be able to do?

A: Typically, your max target will start at 35 from the age of 17 and will reduce every 5 years thereafter. Read this guide should you wish to research several different test methods and rep targets. They’re all effective ways to gauge your progress.

Q: How to do more push ups?

A: As with any exercise, practice makes perfect. You should aim to perform a minimum rep count to start with (say ten) and aim to increase this number by one every other day.

This may sound like slow progress, but it’ll almost guarantee that you can smash through your barriers and bring your push up count up in no time at all. It’s always better to take things inch by inch rather than trying to make huge, overambitious strides and failing.

Conclusion

You’ve had to digest a great deal of information about chest workouts, chest exercises and elements of chest training in general that you’d probably never considered before.

Other guides may be smaller and take less time to read, but they’re not going to give you the well-rounded outlook on chest training that you need in order to make the kind of advancement you’re truly looking for.

You can take this “dissected” approach to the chest area and apply it to any muscle group in your body now - this guide really is about so much more than learning how to piece together an effective chest session. It’s actually about completely changing your internal wiring.

You have the perfect workout blueprints to help you achieve any chest related goal, you know how to feel each area of the chest working, and more importantly, you’ve now got the answers and solutions to some of the most common stumbling blocks faced by millions of gym goers pursuing a bigger chest as we speak.

We’d love to hear how you feel after reading this guide, and we’d especially love to know how you’ve applied its teachings to your own training and what kind of results you’ve seen so far.

Comment below and share this article if you think it could help someone else too!

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