great chest workout

The Best Workouts for a Stronger Chest

Every Monday you find that your routine starts with chest and you are pumped up about it. You reach the gym, full of vigour and energy, to find that all the chest machines are already taken. Every machine has 4-5 guys hovering around it, waiting impatiently for their turn. You join in and have an incomplete, unsatisfactory workout.

Your workout has been the same for the past few months that you have been working out – 3-4 sets of bench press, incline bench or dumbbell press, flat flyes and/or 3-4 20-rep pec-deck flyes. And now you have hit a plateau. Your weight refuses to budge, your measurements remain the same and you are losing confidence after every workout, especially when you are facing yourself in the mirror.

That fear is done because today you will learn a new way of hitting your Pectoralis muscles hard and get it to grow big.

For that, you must know the chest musculature.


There are two major muscles of the chest:

  1. Pectoralis Major: the biggest muscle of your chest
  2. Pectoralis Minor: just below the pec major

There are other minor muscles that act synergistically along with these two pectoralis muscles.

Working the chest from different angles ensures overall development of all these muscles and gets you an aesthetically shaped chest that is just ‘perfect’.


Since you are looking at the size and shape of the chest muscles, you need to focus on hypertrophy. This means usually that the rep range is going to be 8-12. Here we are going to consider rep range to be 5-12 considering that for different people, the hypertrophy ranges are different and so the workout would invoke different responses. Moreover, you have been doing the 8-12 range for quite some time now, and you are reading this article because you have literally stopped growing!!

The weights you use must be 75-90% of your 1RM (1 Rep Maximum). So for that,you must know your 1 RM – the maximum weight that you can move for one rep.


These are the exercises that you must know and do in this routine.

Barbell Bench Press

  • Main muscle worked: Chest
  • Other muscles: Chest
  • Type: Compound  Level


Starting Position: Lie back on a flat bench. Using a medium width grip that creates a 90-degree angle lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked.

  • From the starting position, breathe in and begin coming down slowly until the bar touches your middle chest muscle. Go slow, bringing the bar down should take twice the time as compared to raising it.
  • Pause and push the bar back to the starting position, as you breathe out. Use your chest muscles to push the bar. 
  • Repeat.


            Barbell Bench press: 3 Warm-up sets of 10-12 reps

            Barbell Bench Press: 3 Working Sets of 8, 6, 5 reps          


  • Main muscle Worked: Chest
  • Other muscles: Shoulder, Triceps
  • Type: Compound  Level

Lie down on an incline dumbbell press on your back and hold two dumbbells in both your palms atop your thighs.

  • Starting Position: Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders, so that the palms of your hands are facing away from you.
  • Keep the dumbbells in control and push them with your chest.
  • Lock your arms at the top, hold for a second and then start lowering the weight slowly.
  • Repeat. When you complete the set, put the dumbbell back on your thighs, then gently to the floor.

REPS& SETS:  4 Working sets of 10, 8, 6, 5 reps          


A heavy-duty chest workout is just not possible without discussing pushups.

  • Main muscle Worked: Chest
  • Other muscles: Shoulder, Triceps
  • Type: Compound  Level

Starting Position: Plaster your hands firmly on the ground, directly under shoulders. Put your toes firmly on the floor and keep your whole body straight, without any tension.

  1. Begin to lower your body, till your chest touches the ground, at no point, your hands should move.
  2. Now, exhale and slowly push back to the starting position.

REPS & SETS: 3 working sets till failure

  1. Do this every 5-6 days a week, for 6-8 weeks for the best results.
  2. Keep your elbows in, at an angle of 20-30 degrees relative to your body. This is the most “Natural” position your body is in, and this allows for the maximum weight to be moved.
  3. Keep your shoulder blades pinched. To do so, try puffing up your chest away from the bench, while your back is still in contact with it.
  4. Keep your back a bit more than its natural arch. Arching it a lot would lead to stress in the lumbar region, and arching it too little would result in less force generated.
  5. Try touching the chest with your bar at every rep. If you have any shoulder issues and are not able to do so, stop about an inch from touching the chest, not more.
  6. You can rotate the dumbbells a little bit towards the hammer position in the lowering portion of the incline dumbbell press. This would ensure deeper movement and better focus on the chest muscles rather than on the shoulder (Deltoid) muscles.
  7. You can alternate between either push-ups or the dips. For example, if on day 1 you have done push-ups, on day 5 you can do parallel bar dips.
  8. Failure sets mean that you perform the exercise set till you cannot do even 1 more rep.
  9. Try to finish the workout within 50 minutes, to get the maximum possible gains.
  10. Increase the weights in small increments, like 3-5 pounds, when you are reaching your last set.
  11. STRETCH after every set, to facilitate proper growth of muscles by expanding the fascia (a tissue sheet covering the muscles).
  12. Give 48-72 hours of rest before you do the next chest workout, to ensure complete recovery. A recovered muscle performs better and thus grows faster.


  1. Do not use smith machine bench press as an alternative. It recruits less muscle fibres overall and it is against the natural movement of the joints involved.
  2. Do not flare your elbows. Many people flare it to almost 90%. This is less effective as it recruits more of your shoulder deltoid muscles and is detrimental to your shoulder joint.
  3. Do not compromise your form just to push the weights that are heavy and unmanageable. This would lead to uneven development and increases injury risks. 
  4. If the weight is heavy, just reduce it a bit and do with proper form.
  5. Do not stop the program within 2-3 weeks. It takes at least a month to gain noticeable changes. Try to do it for 6-8 weeks for maximum gains.

 Remember, Rome was not built in a day, neither in two weeks. Give it the time it deserves. Be smart and avoid Monday to work out your chest. Instead, try doing it on Tuesday and Friday, or Wednesday and Saturdays. This way you can avoid the long queues near the bench press station and ensure effective, undisturbed and satisfying workout

Follow this routine with the right nutrition plan, and you will soon be filling out your shirts with barrel chests that you have always yearned for.