Big chests are a symbol of power and strength. Some of the most powerful animals to walk the earth all sport broad, muscular chests: think of gorillas, lions, or even kangaroos. We caught up with Charles Glass, the godfather of bodybuilding, for an insane chest workout. Here is the ultimate guide to getting a big chest with maximum gains and destruction!
I love training chest. It's fun and challenging and I love getting a little stronger from workout to workout. Little progress = big motivation!
~ Troy Adashun
If you are doing chest workouts a few times a week with no apparent gains in sight, there might be a few things you are missing out on. The key to hypertrophy in your chest is to understand the different parts you need to target and to activate those groups. To get a bigger chest, the most critical areas are not just the pectoralis major - the pec-deck.
There are a few additional muscles that support the pecs. Put together they create a broad, strong, and well-defined chest.
The target muscles for a strapping chest are:
Structuring your workouts to include each muscle group is key to gains. It only makes sense to change your routine around including an exercise that you find easy towards the end of your workout to reap the benefits fully. Working out at your weakest is key to hypertrophy; you will feel your muscles better and become more in tune with how your muscles are functioning while they are growing. Aim to work your chest 2 -3 times a week with adequate rest time between sessions.
When a muscle group is activated and warmed up, you are less likely to get injured and can get the most out of your workout. Try adding a quick full-body dynamic stretch to warm up before your chest session; the warm-up ensures your body is firing on all cylinders. Less risk of injury means you are going to be performing in top shape for longer.
Here are a few exercises to add to get the best warm-up.
Once you have warmed up, you can get straight into your workout.
Tip: try some Svend presses after your chest workout session and see how well you do for a little extra pump.
5 of the best chest exercises
The top 5 exercises to include in your workout for a chest bigger than King Kong. According to the legend Charles Glass these are the kings of the chest muscles.
#1 Flat bench press with elevated feet superset
Pectoralis major, triceps, anterior deltoid
6-8 (increase weight each set)
Like the traditional bench press, however, with your feet elevated. The elevation helps your upper body isolate and place a greater emphasis on recruiting the upper body muscles. This exercise creates greater muscular activation in all the right places.
You can elevate your feet into the air or place your feet flat on the bench. Keep them flat on the bench the first few times you try this to get the hang of it and perfect your form.
Elevate and gain:
- 1Lying down on a flat bench, make sure that your neck and head are properly supported.
- 2Position yourself underneath the bar. The bar should be in line with your chest. Place your hands on the barbell, slightly wider than your shoulder-width, keep your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle. Grip the bar, palms facing forward.
- 3Raise your feet into the air. If this is not comfortable hard place them flat on the bench beneath you.
- 4Exhale, engage and keep your core tight, and push the barbell off the rack and upwards. You should feel your pecks engage. Straighten your arms out, and focus on the squeeze in your chest.
- 5Inhale and slowly bring the barbell to your chest. A way to check that you are performing this properly is to make sure that you take twice as long to bring the barbell to your chest as it does to push it upwards, to really feel the burn.
- 6Exhale and drive the barbell up to the starting position.
- 7Repeat for 6 - 8 reps, adding more weight on each set.
- 8Lower your feet and place them flat on the floor for the remaining sets.
- 9Rest for 90 seconds between sets, and continue for five sets
#2 INCLINE BENCH PRESS
Lower pecs, triceps, biceps, anterior deltoid
8-10 (increase weight each set)
From the bottom to the top, the incline bench press works at developing the upper section of the pecs. The incline press relieves pressure on your rotator cuffs.
Straight up business:
- 1Lying on an incline bench, grip the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- 2Lifting the bar from the rack and holding it above you as you exhale.
- 3Engage your core, inhaling as you lower the bar towards your chest. Keep your elbows neatly tucked in by your sides at a 45-degree angle.
- 4Hold for 2-3 seconds.
- 5Exhaling, begin pressing it back up to the start. Hold for a count.
- 6Repeat for 8-10 reps.
- 7Increase the weight load after each set.
- 8Rest for 90 seconds between sets, and continue for five sets
#3 DECLINE BENCH PRESS
Lower pecs, triceps, biceps, anterior deltoid
8-10 (increase weight each set)
Easing up on lower back stress, this decline press is perfect for working the pec muscles' sternal head, the lower pecs. The bench should be on a 15 - 30 degree decline.
The angle of the bench isolates the lower pecs for a chiseled chest if you pair it with traditional flat bench presses and incline bench presses.
Turn that press upside down:
- 1Ensure your feet are secured at the end of the bench.
- 2Lying down with your eyes underneath the barbell.
- 3Grip the bar with palms facing outwards, place your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- 4Begin straightening your arms to lift the barbell from the rack. Move it to your shoulders, keeping your elbows in mind.
- 5Inhale and slowly lower the barbell until it touches your mid-chest
- 6Bring your elbows down to a 45-degree angle from your body. Pause for 2 - 3 full seconds.
- 7Exhale, lifting the barbell to starting position, locking your elbows. Pause for 2 - 3 seconds.
- 8Repeat for 6-8 reps.
- 9Increase the weight load after each set,
- 10Rest for 90 seconds between sets, continuing for 5 sets.
#4 INCLINE BENCH WITH MACHINE
Upper pecs, triceps, anterior deltoid
The incline machine press is perfect for the upper chest, similar to the motion you would use while performing a dumbbell fly. The angle isolates the upper part of the chest muscles for a fuller upper chest.
- 1Sitting on the end of the incline press machine, the incline should be set at 45-degrees. Settle back; the handles should be slightly below shoulder height.
- 2Position your palms on the upper part of the handles.
- 3Inhaling, bring your shoulder blades together on the bench, spreading the chest.
- 4Exhaling, begin pressing the arms straight out; your arms should move into an inward motion.
- 5Keep the shoulder blades tight and packed. You should be pressing and abducting at the same time.
- 6Slowly returning your arms to the start as you inhale.
- 7Repeat for 6-8 reps.
- 8Increase the weight load after each set.
- 9Rest for 90 seconds between sets, continuing for 5 sets.
#5 WEIGHTED DIPS
Anterior deltoid, triceps, pectoralis minor, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae
Weighted dips are one of the best compound exercises for the upper body; they sculpt the pecs. A perfected dip will also help improve your bench press technique. Leaning forward while dipping places the focus on the chest muscles instead of the arms and shoulders.
How to dip your way to a pumped chest:
- 1Start by placing your dip belt around your waist. Attach your weight plate, ensure the weight is clipped correctly and secured.
- 2Mount the dip bar, facing inwards.
- 3Hold onto the bars as you hold your body up arm's length, keep your arms straight and elbows locked.
- 4Lean forward slightly.
- 5Inhaling, slowly start lowering your body. Your torso should be moving slightly forward; as you lower down, your elbows should flare out to the sides.
- 6As soon as you begin to feel the stretch in your chest, exhale and start pushing yourself back up to start.
- 7Repeat for 8 - 10 reps.
- 8Increase the weight after each set
- 9Rest for 90 seconds between sets, continuing for 3 - 5 sets.
Additional exercises for total chest destruction
Alongside Charles Glass's top five, these exercises are just as good at building your chest. If you are on the path of building gains, try adding a few other exercises, for example:
Dumbbell bench press
Isolated training of pectoral muscles and triceps
Another variation of a bench press that supports equilibrium between each side of the chest and strength across both sides of the chest. This exercise is ideal for anyone who is not confident with barbell bench presses or wants to improve both sides of their chest.
The dumbbells allow for the entire chest to be worked out and to be worked insolation.
- 1Lying on a flat bench, grip a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them with arms bent outwards, the weights on each side of your shoulder.
- 2Face your palms outward as you would in a traditional bench press with a barbell.
- 3For rotator cuff injuries or shoulder problems, turn your palms to face each other in a neutral grip.
- 4Inhale and press the weights above your chest by extending your elbows until your arms are straightened.
- 5Slowly bring the weights down past your shoulders.
- 6Don't touch them at the top once they are at the top, squeeze and hold. Keep your feet firm and flat on the floor and bent at 90-degrees.
Incline dumbbell bench press
Upper pectoralis, trapezius, triceps
Balance, this exercise is all about restoring balance to the chest area. A dumbbell exercise is perfect for restoring balance and equalizing muscles in the chest. If you are in recovery from a rotator cuff injury or a chest injury on one side, in particular, this is the best alternative to an incline bench press.
You will improve your chest gains and equalize them for an even spread of strength across the chest. Set the incline to between 30 - 40 degrees.
- 1Sitting on the edge of an incline bench with your dumbbells ready at your feet.
- 2Grip the dumbbells in a neutral - palms facing in - grip.
- 3Pick up the dumbbells off the floor using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Place them on your hip crease and lower your upper body down onto the incline bench.
- 4Once you are in position, inhale and press the dumbbell to lockout at the top.
- 5As you exhale, begin to lower the dumbbells to level with your chest slowly.
- 6Engage the pecs and push the dumbbells back up to the starting position as you inhale.
Flat dumbbell fly
Pectorals, triceps, and shoulders
The king of sternum growth: the dumbbell fly. This exercise is the king of creating the beautiful 'chest separation' between the pecs. The dumbbell fly targets every part of the pecs with a focus on the sternal fibers. You don't have to lift as heavy as you would in a traditional bench press. This makes it an excellent alternative to the benches when they are full.
- 1Lie flat on the bench or on the floor. Keep your back flat and firmly pressed into the bench.
- 2Gently pick up a dumbbell in each hand.
- 3Hold the weights above your chest, palms facing each other, then lower the weights in an arc out to each side of your body as far as you can.
- 4Engaging your pectoral muscles, slowly reverse the movement, raising the dumbbells above your chest, squeeze your pecs as you reach the top. Don't touch the dumbbells together; squeeze before they are too close together.
- 5Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout, and don't arch your back.
Seated machine chest press
Sternal Pectoralis, Clavicular Pectoralis, Deltoids, Triceps, Latissimus dorsi
This is a versatile exercise that you can add to your workouts if you are not comfortable with a barbell bench press or if your spotter is not available for the session. Another benefit is that this machine is excellent for anyone with any injuries or rehabilitation after an injury.
- 1Adjust the seat. The handles should be at chest height.
- 2Seated with your back firmly against the backrest. Grab the handles in a pronated - overhand- grip.
- 3Firmly plant your feet flat on the ground.
- 4Exhaling press your arms out in front of you until fully extended.
- 5Inhale, and slowly return to start. You should feel a slight stretching in the chest area.
- 6Repeat for 10 - 15 reps.
- 7Increase the weight after each set.
Planning your workouts is crucial to better gains. A bigger chest doesn't mean you need to spend half your life in the gym training like a psychopath. Your health, fitness, and satisfaction will benefit from a well-planned out approach to your workouts. Try to hit the gym 2 to 3 times a week, focusing just on your chest. Remember, recovery is just as important as getting your training in. A lack of rest and recovery can lead to further injury.
Don't be afraid to set some goals and track your improvement over 3 weeks. Make sure you hydrate, eat correctly and track your workouts. What works for your body might be super-setting, while your buddy might benefit from 3 sessions of hardcore lifting a week.
By The Way, Here’s me going through this entire chest workout on Youtube!