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Best Chest Workout Routines

Updated on December 28, 2014

Building Chest Size And Strength

Building size and strength in the chest muscles is a big deal to any guy who's into weight training. Thick and powerful looking pecs top off a muscular physique nicely and will lead to a lot of attention. Chest exercises such as the bench press are also among the most enjoyable and popular weight training exercises to do so most weight trainers aren't going to avoid performing them like they may with some of the major leg or back exercises. If you train with a lot of intensity and stick with it, you will build bigger and stronger pectoral muscles in no time. All it will take is following the best chest workout routines to gain this size and strength.

Chest Workout Routines

It takes doing the right exercises to build muscle mass and strength for the best chest workout routines. Bench presses, incline presses, decline presses, dips, dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers, and push-ups are among the best exercises for building size in the pecs. You should stick with lifting free weights for the most part, since using them will force you to work the smaller muscles that help stabilize and balance the weight. Most weight training machines force you to lift in one plane of motion and the stabilizing muscles don't need to work as much. Only use machines towards the end of your chest workouts.

When you first start doing the best chest workout routines you need to learn the proper exercise form on all of the major chest exercises. Trying to lift too much weight before you can handle without cheating will cause you to develop bad habits that will be hard to break later on. If you cheat, you could end up injuring yourself. As long as you use proper lifting form on your chest exercises you'll eventually get the gains you want without having to cheat.

Another thing you need to do when you follow the best chest workout routines is to start them off with the major exercises like bench presses or incline presses. If you're a beginning weight trainer, the majority of your chest workout routines should be made up of the compound exercises with very isolation movements. Isolation chest exercises such as flyes shouldn't be done as much until you actually build some size in the pecs.

The level of intensity you train with is a major factor if you want to build chest size and strength. If you don't try to use more weight or do more reps on your chest exercises nothing's going to change. High intensity weight training will force the muscles to adapt - which will lead to growth.

Many beginning weight trainers want to build their pecs so bad that they end up overtraining when they start following a chest workout routine. This can be the kiss of death when it comes to building size and strength in the pecs. You need to train hard enough to get a growth response, then let the muscles rest - which is the time that they actually grow. If your chest is still sore from it's last workout, take another day off. You'll be able to train with more intensity if your muscles are fully recovered.

Best Chest Workout Routine Exercises

There are certain exercises that should be part of the best chest workout routines if you want to build size and strength in the pecs. These include compound exerises that involve multiple muscles and exercises that isolate the chest.

The most popular compound chest exercise is the flat bench press, though the incline version may actually be better for build muscle shape in the pecs. You can also perform decline bench presses for separation between your lower pecs and abs. Any version of the bench press can be performed with barbells and dumbbells.

Dips can be an excellent chest exercise when you perform them on dip bars. They are a superior alternative to decline bench presses since you'll be moving your body through space when you do them. If you built a decent amount of strength you should try wearing a belt that you can add weight to when you do dips.

The best exercises for isolating the pecs are flyes and their various forms. These include dumbbell flyes, cable flyes, machine flyes, and cable crossovers. On any one of these exercises it's important to get a deep stretch and strong contraction on every rep.

The good ol' push-up is another great exercise for your chest. You can do them to warm up or finish off a chest weight training workout. In fact, you can just do push-ups to get a chest workout if you don't have weights at home or a gym membership.

Proper Chest Exercise Form

One major key to building chest muscle mass and strength from the best pectoral workout routines is to perform all of the exercises you do properly. Nothing will lead to an injury quicker than using sloppy form when you weight train. You'll also target the muscles much better when you use proper form.

The bench press is easily the most popular of the major chest exercises. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most abused exercises when it comes to proper form. To perform it properly you lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor, then pull your shoulder blades inward to pop your pectoral muscles out. This will focus the resistance more on your chest muscles. Keeping a natural arch in your lower back is fine, but you should never raise your rear end off the bench to get some cheat reps. You also need to lower the weight in a slow, controlled manner - dropping the weight on your chest to get a bounce off of it isn't the safest thing to be doing, and it won't be working your muscles properly anyway.

When you do flye and crossover exercises for your pecs you need to get to a deep stretch with your arms out to your sides and very slighty bent. You then use your chest muscles to raise your arms until they are over or in front of your body - depending on which exercise you're doing. At the end of rep, you need to contract the muscles hard.

Best Chest Workout Routine For Beginners

2-3 sets of bench press

2-3 sets of incline bench press

1-2 sets of weighted dips or decline bench press

1-2 sets of flat or incline dumbbell bench presses

1-2 sets of flyes or cable crossovers

Splitting Your Routine

After you've been weight training for a while, you'll likely get to the point where you feel the need to do more work for your chest during each workout. This is the perfect time to split up your routine into 3 separate workouts. A popular way to do this is known as a push-pull routine. A push-pull routine calls for the upper body muscles that push weight to be trained together, the upper body muscles that pull weight to be trained together, and the leg muscles to be trained together. This means that you would train the chest followed by the shoulders and triceps during the same workout.

Another thing you can try is to change the amount of reps you do per set during each chest workout. This will keep your muscles guessing, which will lead to more strength and size gains. You can follow a chest workout routine where you do a "light" workout with lower weight and high reps for every set, a medium weight and reps workout, and a heavy weight and low reps workout. You should also regularly switch the exercises you do to avoid going stale.

As you get more advanced you may decide that you want to do even more sets and exercises during your chest workouts. At this point you can split your routine further so you only train one or two muscle groups per workouts. You can even decide to compete in bodybuilding or powerlifting competitions.

Best Chest Workout Routine For Experienced Lifters

Light Workout

1-2 sets of bench
1-2 sets of incline
1-2 sets of weighted dips or decline bench press
1-2 sets of flat or incline dumbbell bench press
1-2 sets of flyes or crossovers

Medium Workout

2-3 sets of bench
2-3 sets of incline
2-3 sets of declines or dips
2-3 sets of dumbbells
1-2 sets of flyes or crossovers

Heavy Workout

3-4 sets of bench
3-4 sets of incline
2-3 sets of dips or declines
2-3 sets of dumbbells
2-3 sets of flyes or crossovers

Chest Training For Bodybuilders

If The best chest workout routines for bodybuilders should be set up to gain muscle size and shape in the pecs. For the most part you'll want to use higher rep ranges on your sets and less rest in between so you get a strong pump in your pecs when you train them.

If you decide to give bodybuilding a try, you'll need to build your pectoral muscles proportionately. This means having properly proportioned pecs for the rest of your physique and have proper proportions between the lower and upper pecs. Many lifters end up building pecs that appear droopy due to benching too much on a flat bench as compared to an incline bench. If you want to compete in bodybuilding, it will be necessary to build those upper chest muscles to remedy this. In this case, the top chest workout routines should start with incline bench presses rather than flat benches. In fact, you may want to do away with flat bench chest exercises altogether - at least until your upper pecs catch up to your lower pecs.

Stretching is another important part of building your pecs for bodybuilding. When you costantly stretch your pecs before, during, and after your chest workouts you'll give the muscles more potential for growth and improved shape. You can even stretch your rib cage to make your pecs look larger. An old Arnold Schwarzenegger trick was to superset squats and dumbbell pullovers over a bench to increase the size of his rib cage due to a combination of heavy breathing from the squats and stretching from the pullovers.

If you have long arms, performing many chest exercises may put a lot of the resistance on the triceps. To remedy this you can try doing supersets of flyes followed by bench presses. The pecs will be pre-exhausted after the flyes and will get more from the bench pressing.

Another technique for getting a great pump in your pecs is to do drop sets. A drop set is a set where you lift to failure, then go to a lower weight right away and continue doing reps. Dumbbell or machine chest exercises are easier than barbell ones for perforing drop sets on since you can change the weight quicker.

Chest Training For Powerlifters

For powerlifters, the best chest workout routines should be set up to increase your one rep max on the bench press. The bench press, along with the squat and deadlift, is one of the exercises you have to max out on during a competition.

If you plan on powerlifting, you need to try to set up your routine so your one rep bench press max peaks at competition time. In the weeks leading up to the competition, increase your weights and lower the reps per set during each chest workout. If you time it right, you'll hit your peak at the right time.

One great technique for increasing your bench press strength for powerlifting competitions is to build strength where you are weakest during a bench press rep. Many lifters have the most difficulty getting the weight moving upward off of their chest. Others have trouble locking out at the top of a bench press rep. To remedy this, you can set up a bench in a squat rack and do partial reps that focus only on your weakest point of a bench press rep. If you have difficulty getting the weight off your chest, set up a bench in a rack with stoppers so that you are forced to only do the first few inches of a bench press rep. If locking out is your problem, just do reps that cover the last few inches of a rep.

The strength of your shoulders and triceps will also dictate how strong you get on the bench press. Train these muscles intensely for the best bench press possible. Include exercises for the shoulders and triceps as part of the top chest workout routines for powerlifters.

Many powerlifting competitions allow you to wear a bench shirt when you bench press. These shirts are so strong and tight that they will cause you to bench more weight than you can without one on. As the competition approaches you may want to test out how much you can lift with one on every now and then.

Final Note

Hopefully the info and advice here will help you succeed at building your chest size and power. Just remember to train hard and make regular changes without overdoing it. You'll come out of it a more muscular and confident person.

Proper Bench Press Form

Favorite Chest Exercises

What is your favorite chest exercise?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like mixing my routine. The drop sets will be a nice addition. Thanks, very informative.

    • profile image

      Weight training routines 

      8 years ago

      I also love supersetting a compound chest exercise such as a bench press or dumbbell flye with press ups or dips. This really helps to fatigue the pecs and gives them a great pump.

    • profile image

      best chest workout 

      9 years ago

      Great stuff! Thanks for it.


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