This is the best chest workout that I know of for building mass. It’s simple, fairly quick, and you only need to do it once every 5-7 days. It is pretty intense, and you’ll be more than pumped afterwards.
Everyone in the gym seems to have a different chest routine, and many people are convinced that they’ve got that one “killer exercise” that packs on size.
The reality is, however, that your chest is made up of the same fibres as every other muscle in your body, and it responds best to the same type of basic exercises. It makes sense then that the best chest workout should be based on heavy compound movements with free weights.
The Best Chest Workout For Building Mass
Exercise #1: The Incline Barbell Bench Press
Number of sets: 3
Number of reps: 8-10
The incline bench press is an excellent compound movement that primarily targets your upper pectorals. The reps should be kept high for mass building, in the 8-10 range, and you should end your set 1-2 reps before “failure”; i.e. the point at which you can not physically lift the bar for another rep.
The angle of incline should be anywhere from 10 to 40 degrees. Any more than this and your shoulders are going to be doing a lot of the work. However, a few people do find that they can really hit the very upper fibres of the pecs at greater angles. It’s worth experimenting and finding out for yourself.
Why does it first, you ask? Well, when most people start weightlifting, there is a tendency to focus too much on the flat bench. It’s a widely popular lift, and we can tend to give it more focus and energy than it deserves.
It’s all too easy to crank out 3-4 intense sets of flat bench with your gym partner, and end up throwing the incline in as an afterthought, or even not at all.
As a result, you train your lower pecs too hard, and your upper pecs get off easy. This can lead to an unbalanced, “droopy” look. Not cool.
If you make a point of doing incline first, every workout, then you ensure that the whole pectoral gets worked equally, or even that the upper pecs get stressed slightly more. This leads to much more aesthetically pleasing chest development.
I’ve chosen the barbell over the dumbbell because the extra stabilisation that comes with the barbell allows you to really focus on lifting with your chest.
Another reason not to go with dumbbells is that as you get up to heavier weights, there is a tendency to keep the dumbbells closer to the body and lift more with the shoulder. That’s one of the little-known reasons many people find their chest development stagnating after a few months with dumbbell presses.
Exercise #2: Flat Bench Press
Number of sets: 3
Number of reps: 8-10
Ahh, probably the best-known chest exercise in the world. It certainly wouldn’t be the best chest workout without the flat bench press. Not much needs to be said here, other than lift with intensity and good form. Again, high reps and stopping short of failure are key to building mass in the chest over the long term.
To maximise your gains you’ll want to check out this article on how to bust through plateaus and increase your bench press weight.
You might also want to find about proper bench press form, and learn how to keep your shoulders healthy while you bench. The advice on form applies to the incline bench press as well.
Exercise #3: Cable Flies
Number of sets: 2
Number of reps: 10-12
To finish the best chest workout, we’ll end with cable flies. These allow you to really isolate the chest and finish off with an incredible deep burn and stretch.
Why not dumbbell flies, you ask? Well, because of the mechanics of the lift, dumbbell flies can be somewhat dangerous and put you at greater risk of a pectoral tear.
It can be hard to judge your “distance from failure” on flies, and it can be harder to drop heavy dumbbells lying flat than it is to let go of cables standing up.
I also prefer cables because they stress your chest throughout the entire range of motion, whereas dumbbells mostly stress it in the bottom third of the lift.
So that, in my opinion, is the best chest workout you can do for mass. It’s short, it is intense, and it is effective. It works well as part of a split body part weight lifting routine. Combine it with this shoulder workout for a kick-ass Chest & Shoulders day.