The Best Chest Workout Routine For Mass

Chest Muscles 2Maybe you are a newbie to lifting weights and building muscle and you have no clue where to begin.

Maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum and you’re a gym rat whose always “lifted weights” but never followed any specific program.

No matter what your situation is, the information we are going to cover will ensure that you take another big step in your journey toward putting lean mass on your chest.

With this workout routine, you will build a chest that is chiseled, broader, stronger and one that will make the ladies swoon.

To effectively build impressive chest muscles, there are several keys:

Lift weights and lift them with intensity
Lift heavy
Perform the right chest exercises
Keep chest workouts short, high quality, and infrequent (maximal results with minimal amount of work)
Perform chest workouts that are progressive
Allow efficient recovery time (vital)

1) Lift Weights And Lift Them With Intensity

Let’s take a moment to define what intensity is NOT. Intensity has nothing to do with the duration of a workout. It also has nothing to do with the frequency in which you workout.

You might hear someone at a gym state that they worked out their chest out everyday this week and that it was really intense. It really wasn’t, I’d consider this over-training.

The problem with intensity is that it is often completely subjective. For instance, you might have seen workout routines that claim to be the “most killer routine” ever. How is this measured?  What standard of measure proves that one workout is more intense than another.

To gain muscle, you need a better way to measure the intensity of each exercise. Probably the best way to do this is to ensure progressive overload (I’ll touch on this later).

2) Lift Heavy

When looking to put on some mass on your chest, you need to make sure the stress is above the threshold of what your muscles can currently handle.

If you lift light weights all the time, sure, you’ll burn some calories and get a little bit stronger but soon your body will adapt and progress will come to a screeching halt. Remember, our muscles do not want to work any harder than they have to.

Like most teenagers, think of your muscles as being lazy. Your muscles would prefer to sleep and only wake up in only extreme emergencies. When your muscles are put to use, only the necessary amount of muscle fibers needed to get the job done will be used.

This means that we need to perform chest exercises that are extremely demanding. This is of course while maintaining safety and avoiding injury.

So what is the best way to utilize every single muscle fiber in an exercise. You need to lift weights that are HEAVY!

Heavy weights will use all of a muscle’s capacity by calling on every fiber during the performance of an exercise.

3) Perform the Right Chest Exercises

When I walk into a gym, I see a lot of guys performing the same chest exercises day in and day out with no variation.

The chest is actually comprised of two main muscles, the Pectoralis Major which sits on the front of the rib cage and the Pectoralis Minor which is located under the Pectoralis Major.

Here are some quick points on both:

Pectoralis Major

  • Located on the front of the rib cage
  • Also known as pecs
  • They originate on the breastbone on the center of the chest
  • They attach to the humerus which is near the shoulder joint
  • Main function is to bring humerus across the chest

Pectoralis Minor

  • Located under the pecs
  • They attach to the coracoid process of the scapula
  • They originate on the middle rips
  • Main function is to move the shoulders forward

Pectoralis Major And MinorThere really is no upper, middle and lower chest. Only the Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor exist.

Once you understand that basic chest physiology and how they help that area of the body move, it is easier to see which exercises will be the most beneficial towards building a beefy, chiseled chest.

Here are my favorite exercises for building chest mass (I’ll organize them into a workout shortly):

✔ Bench Press (both barbell and dumbbell)
✔ Incline barbell bench press
✔ Dips
✔ Dumbbell flyes
✔ Cable flyes

4) Keep Workouts Short, High Quality, And Infrequent

Your goal should be to maximize your chest-building results while minimizing the amount of work you have to do. There is also an inverse relationship between the length of the workout (also known as volume) and intensity.

In general, when the volume is high, the intensity of the workout is low. The higher the intensity of the workout, the shorter its length tends to be.

Basically, it is difficult if not impossible to train hard and long simultaneously.

Unfortunately, just about every fitness magazine will preach you need tons of sets and high volume to grow you chest. In reality, training too often and performing workouts that are too long will sabotage your success.

Keep workouts short and infrequent. This will help you make sure you’ve had enough time to recover between workouts.

5) Perform Workouts That Are Progressive

So what does a good chest workout for mass look like. Well, for one, you want the workout and program that will let you see progress.

The best way to do this is with a routine where you try and improve from workout to workout.

Let’s get something straight, lifting light weights at a slow speed is pretty much good for burning calories and that’s it. Light weight repetitions, performed slowly, will do nothing for building muscle since there is no overload or intensity and no reason for the muscle to grow.

To build mass on your chest (or any muscles for that matter) it is important that you subject them to stresses that they unaccustomed to. In doing so, your muscles will have to adapt and cope with the added stress by growing.

6) Recovery Time Is Vital

Recovery is a subject that is poorly understood. I see a lot of guys in the gym  working their chest almost daily in hopes of growing. They are over-training and setting themselves up for injuries and disappointment at the lack of progress.

Take the following to heart:

Staying out of the gym and allowing your body to recover will be much more effective at helping you build muscle than any amount of money you can spend on supplements or amount of time you can spend in the gym.

After an exhausting chest workout where you’ve induced trauma to the muscles (yes that’s what weight training does), you need to set your primary focus to recovering through proper nutrition, hydration and adequate sleep (at least 7 hours each night).

Here is a calculation I follow to really hit home how important recovery is:

2% Workout + 25% Diet + 44% Lifestyle + 29% Sleep = 168 hours in the week

How is the above equation calculated:

Training/workout = 3 hours total in a week/168 hours in a week = 0.017 = 2%

Diet = 6 meals a day x 1 hour sitting (includes prep time) x 7 days a week = 42 hours / 168 hours in a week = 0.25 => 25%

Sleep = 7 hours each night x 7 days = 49 hours / 168 hours in a week = 0.291 => 29%

Lifestyle = remainder of the time = 100%-2%-25%-29% = 44%

The categories of sleep, lifestyle, and diet can all be put under the recovery category so that the formula can be simplified to this:

2% Workout + 98% Recovery = 100% Results

Finally … The Chest Workout Routine To Maximize Muscle Growth

I am going to be straight up with you, strength training is hard work. This isn’t a quick fix and it will take time and this workout is about building a habit that will build a strong, muscular chest through consistency and over time.

The Workout

Early on, you should perform this workout 1 time a week. Here are the major points of the workout:

You’ll alternate weeks between a Heavy week and Moderate week

► The goal of a Moderate week is to do higher reps (8-12), which means the weight will be a tad lighter (more moderate).  Rest periods between sets should be reduced. The 8-12 rep range is the hypertrophy range, geared for muscular growth.

► The goal of a Heavy week is to go heavy. The rep ranges can be anywhere from 1 rep to 5 reps. You’ll mix it up.By doing lower rep ranges, you’ll get stronger. So the lower rep range shock your CNS or central nervous system. By getting stronger, you’ll be able to lift heavier and heavier lifts will equate to a more muscular chest.

► Reps to failure means you perform reps until you can’t do another as in you “fail” to do the next one.

► Always utilize a spotter!

IMPORTANT:  It is vital that you warm-up properly when doing a chest workout routine aimed at building mass. You should NOT do set after set of 10 reps, slowly building up weight. You’ll be too fatigued once you hit the heavy (the work sets) chest lifts.

Here is what an incorrect chest warm-up look like:

100 lbs x 10 reps
135 lbs x 10 reps
155 lbs x 10 reps
185 lbs x 10 reps
225 lbs x 10 reps (1st real working set)

By the time you hit the first working set at 225lbs, you’ll have a really tough time hitting all the required reps. Instead, a proper warm-up should look like this:

100 lbs x 10 reps
135 lbs x 5 reps
155 lbs x 3 reps
185 lbs x 2 reps
220 lbs x 1 rep (this set primes your cns for the heavy lifts)
225 lbs x 10 reps

With the above warm-up, you’ll have a much greater change at hitting all the reps required as you will not have pre-exhausted your chest.

Moderate Chest Workout – Week A – (Hypertrophy Aimed)

Dumbbell chest presses (3 sets of 10-12 reps)
Incline bench press (3 sets of  10 reps)
Cable flyes (3 sets of 12 reps)
Body weight dips to failure

Heavy Chest Workout – Week B – (Strength Aimed)

Barbell bench press (5 sets of 1-5 reps)
Incline bench press (3 sets of 5 reps)
Weighted dips (2 sets of 5 reps)
Dumbbell flyes (2 sets of 8-10 reps)

As you can see, you are basically alternating between weeks where you do a “moderate” chest workout and a “heavy” chest workout.

So now comes the decision on what weights to start at. If you’ve never done any prior weight lifting, I suggest you start lighter. You’ll progress in strength fast as the weight goes up and you’ll stay highly motivated. The typical weightlifting bar is 45 lbs.

Here is an example of how the moderate and heavy workouts might looks like through two weeks:

Moderate Chest Workout #1

Dumbbell chest presses:  30′s x 12 reps, x 10 reps, x 10 reps
Incline Bench press: 45 lbs x 10 reps, x 10 reps, x 10 reps
Cable flyes 60 lbs x 12 reps, x 12 reps, x 12 reps
Body weight dips to failure:   13 reps, 11 reps

Heavy Chest Workout #1

Barbell bench press:  135 lbs x 1, 125 x 2, 115 x 5, 115 x 5, 115 x 5
Incline bench press:  100 lbs x 5 x 3 sets
Weighted dips: body weight + 10 x 5 reps x 2 sets
Dumbbell flyes  20s x 10, 20s x 10

Moderate Chest Workout #2

Dumbbell chest presses:  32.5′s x 10 reps, x 10 reps, x 10 reps
Incline Bench press: 50 lbs x 10 reps, x 10 reps, x 10 reps
Cable flyes 62.5 lbs x 12 reps, x 12 reps, x 12 reps
Body weight dips to failure:   13 reps, 12 reps

Heavy Chest Workout #2

Barbell bench press:  135 lbs x 2, 125 x 3, 120 x 5, 115 x 5, 115 x 5
Incline bench press:  100 lbs x 5 x 3 sets
Weighted dips: body weight + 12.5 x 5 reps x 2 sets
Dumbbell flyes  20s x 10, 22.5s x 10

Notice how the progression is occurring. Starting out light is highly recommended.

One of the main reasons is that at the lighter weight you can work on proper form. You’ll also be rewarded by being able to achieve all sets and reps at the lighter weight, keeping you highly motivated while using this chest workout routine.

Once you do hit the heavier weights, you will likely have to deal with a plateau (where you can’t do the full number of reps or sets). In this case, retry the workout again a few more times.

If by the third or fourth workout, you still can’t achieve the full reps and sets, lighten your weights by 25% and build up again, using proper form.

Oh, for me as the workouts became more difficult, I changed from performing the chest workout every 7 days to every 8 days.  This extra day gave me more recovery time and I felt much fresher when it came to lifting heavy.

Here is a visual of the exercises, in case you didn’t know what they were:

Barbell Bench PressBarbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Chest PressDumbbell Chest Press

Incline Bench PressIncline Bench Press


Cable FlyesCable Flyes

Dumbbell FlyesDumbbell Flyes


I guarantee you that if you do this program with consistency and put for the intensity and hard work you will see rather quick dividends.

You’ll see a broader chest and even more mass in the shoulders and triceps. Your upper body will be much stronger as well. Stick with this program for the next six months and you’ll be the envy of the others in the weight room.

If you’d like some help putting together a full body workout that will ensure you  maximize growth in the most efficient way possible, please take a look at the No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program.

This 29 week program will maximize your muscle growth and help you build a strong, muscular body that you can be proud of.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley Poole April 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Great tips!!!!

Mike June 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hi there, as a beginner with weights I would like to clarify how much weight you suggest for these exercises.

When you state for the Moderate Chest Workout #1:
-Dumbbell chest presses: 30′s x 12 reps etc, is that 30lbs per dumbbell or overall for both(15 each)?
-Incline Bench press: 45 lbs, is that 45lbs per side or total(22.5 each side)?

I am very new to this and want to make sure I understand it right.

Thank you so much, I look forward to your reply.


cecil June 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

-Dumbbell chest presses: 30′s x 12 reps etc, is that 30lbs per dumbbell or overall for both(15 each)?

That’s 30lbs per dumbbell

-Incline Bench press: 45 lbs, is that 45lbs per side or total(22.5 each side)?

That’s 45lbs total.

The important thing to understand is that these are just general guidelines. When we say 12 reps, use the weight that you can do for 12 reps. It can be 30lbs or 40lbs. It varies from person to person.

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