Do you want to build a huge chest without resorting to gimmick exercises and goofy training programs? Well, you’re in luck. We have for you five simple yet highly effective exercises for developing those beefy slabs of muscle where your man-boobs are — or hopefully, once were. Here’s the ultimate old-school chest workout for mass.
But what do we mean by simple? What we’re talking about are exercises everyone first learns how to do, but probably doesn’t do right.
You see, the pectoral muscles aren’t very complicated in how they work; they contract when you push stuff away from your body. So, why would you perform countless exercises just to get the same contraction?
Especially when the basics are more than adequate at getting the job done. Makes sense, right? Okay, let’s jump right into it and kick back to the old-school.
Exercise 1: Barbell Bench Press
The grandfather of all chest exercises – the bench press. This is the one exercise even non-gym goers know how to do. Or at least, they think they do.
There’s a lot more to properly performing the bench press than simply lying back and pushing the bar away from you; you need the right technique — a thing most guys never learn.
Without the right technique, you’re more likely to get injured, lessen the propensity to achieve muscle gains, and won’t be able to move as much weight.
Therefore, it’s important to learn how to properly perform the exercise before attempting to lift any kind of significant weight. Try not to do any of this dumb stuff.
The video below teaches you the right way to perform the flat bench press.
Now, don’t just jump into a set of heavy bench presses after learning correct form; you first need to do a few warm-up sets to get the juices flowing. This warm-up will stimulate the blood circulation and prepare your muscles for working sets. Try the routine below.
Warm-up Sets and Reps
- Using just the bar, perform two sets of 15 reps.
- Increase the weight by 25% of your one-rep-max.
- Perform another 12-15 reps.
Now that you’re all warmed up and ready to go, it’s time to get into the real working sets. Just one more thing, though: It should be noted that the standard bench press with basic rep ranges doesn’t work the pecs all that well for many guys. So, to get the most out of the flat bench press, try performing in a pyramid scheme to completely fatigue your pecs.
Bench Press Working Reps
- Take no more than two minutes of rest between sets
- First set: start with a weight that you can lift for 12 reps with good form
- Second set: increase the weight by 20 lbs and try for ten reps
- Third set: increase the weight again by another 20 lbs and go for eight reps
- Fourth set: increase the weight by 20 lbs for six reps
- Fifth set: increase the weight by 20 lbs for four reps
- Sixth set: increase the weight one last time by 20 lbs and perform one rep
- Seventh set: decrease the weight by 20 lbs and perform four reps
- Eight set: decrease the weight by 20 lbs and perform six reps
- Ninth set: decrease the weight by 20 lbs and perform eight reps
- Tenth set: decrease the weight by 20 lbs and perform ten reps
- Final set: decrease the weight by 20 lbs and perform 12 reps
After performing this pyramid, you should feel like you just got hit by a bus. Oh, but you’re not done yet. You’re just getting started. Check out our guide to bench press grip variations to target that chest from all angles.
Exercise 2: Incline Barbell Bench Press
If you really want to develop chest thickness, you can’t leave out the incline barbell bench press. But after killing yourself on the previous pyramid set, your chest muscles will be too fatigued to go heavy on this exercise. But once again, it’s important to learn how to do things with correct form.
For these sets, choose a weight that is 70% of what you’d normally lift on this movement. You’re going to be doing five sets of six-to-eight reps with two-minute rest periods in-between sets. Here’s what you need to look for while doing this exercise:
- Maintain proper form throughout the lift
- Explode upward on the concentric (pushing) part of the lift
- Squeeze your pecs as hard as you can for a few seconds at the top of the lift
- Focus on taking it slow on the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement
Exercise 3: Dumbbell Flyes
Flyes are a very effective chest exercise because they allow you to use a wider range of motion. Instead of just an up-and-down movement, you get a greater stretch on the downward part, then you can contract the pecs much harder at the top of the lift.
This is great for building chest definition, as well as helping to strengthen the shoulders, rhomboids, and biceps stabilizer muscles. All of which attribute to an overall strength increase.
So, for this exercise you’ll need to perform five sets of 8-12 reps, making sure to rest for two minutes in between sets. And remember, form is key for maximizing your gains.
Exercise 4: Close-Grip Bench Press
Your chest should be absolutely trashed by this point in the workout. This is why you’ll be moving back over to the bench.
You see, the close-grip bench press mainly engages the triceps and inner chest. So, even if your pecs are burnt out, you can still push some decent weight due to your triceps taking on the brunt of the effort.
For this exercise, make sure to choose a weight you can handle with proper form. You’re going to perform five sets of six-to-eight reps in total.
Again, take a two-minute break between sets. If your form starts to break down before you can finish one, lower the weight and try again. Your arms will most likely feel like limp noodles after the final rep.
Exercise 5: Cable Flyes
To bring this whole workout home, you’re going to perform the only chest exercise you probably can handle at this point. Why this workout ends with the cable fly instead of the dumbbell fly is for three reasons:
- It’s easier to handle when your muscles are extremely fatigued
- It keeps constant tension on your chest throughout the lift, so you don’t have to go as heavy
- You can hit different parts of the chest by adjusting the height and changing the angles of the pulleys
As the finisher, this exercise should completely burn out your chest muscles. To get the most out of it, you’re going to be doing drop sets on this exercise.
So, perform 12 reps, then drop the weight and perform another 12 reps. Take a 90-second rest, then repeat the two previous sets — giving you a total of 48 reps.
Nutrition and Supplements for Success
Bro, you can’t just blast through workouts on just drive alone. If you’re ever going to build a chest stacked with lean muscle mass you’re going to need to get your diet and supplementation on point.
Not one single guy on this planet can build muscle without three essential things – working hard, getting his protein, and having healthy testosterone levels shooting through the roof.
So, make sure to get your 1.4 – 2.0 g of protein per lb of body weight every single day . Any less is falling under the amount suggested by the International Society of Sports Nutrition for maintaining and building muscle.
Plus, you gotta get those androgens under control. Testosterone plays a powerful part in the building and maintenance of strong muscle . After all, it’s what makes us alpha males in the god damn first place. A premium testosterone booster like TestoFuel can help to keep your masculine hormones firing on all cylinders. It’s safe, rigorously tested, and proven work. Steer clear of anything containing proprietary blends – if they won’t declare it, you shouldn’t take it.
Finally, SpotMeBro suggests employing the use of a high-quality pre-workout to kickstart your workouts. Training sessions as brutal on the body, but those like the one above is bound to achieve results. With a good pre-workout, even the toughest routines become possible. We always go for 4Gauge due it’s all natural ingredient content and effective microdose of creatine. Plus, there’s not a shady proprietary blend in sight.
Good luck out there, bro. We’ll be seeing you soon with a chest broader than Arnie, The Hulk, and King Kong combined.
- Jäger, R., Kerksick, C., Campbell, B., Cribb, P., Wells, S., Skwiat, T., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Ferrando, A., Arent, S., Smith-Ryan, A., Stout, J., Arciero, P., Ormsbee, M., Taylor, L., Wilborn, C., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Willoughby, D., Hoffman, J., Krzykowski, J. and Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1).
- Griggs, R., Kingston, W., Jozefowicz, R., Herr, B., Forbes, G. and Halliday, D. (1989). Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis. Journal of Applied Physiology, 66(1), pp.498-503.
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[Edited & Updated due popular demand 2018]