To grow a big, wide chest you need to challenge your pecs in ways they have not been challenged before. Which is why doing three sets of ten barbell bench press every Monday and little else is never going to be enough to build impressive pecs.
So if you’re struggling to add chest size, try this six-move session that targets your chest muscles from a variety of angles and through different rep ranges to hit as many muscle fibres as possible. Do the moves in order, and prioritise proper form throughout.
Expert tip This session starts with two moves done as straight sets. Go as heavy as you can while maintaining good form. This will get your chest muscles firing hard, which means you can then work them even harder with the final four moves, which are split into two supersets, to increase the muscles’ workload while minimising rest to fatigue as many muscle fibres as possible.
Any good chest workout in the gym should involve a variety of exercises that hit your muscles from different angles and challenge them in different ways. In other words, if your chest training is based entirely around the barbell bench press, you’re selling your pecs short (even if the bench press is one of the best chest exercises you can do).
This six-move chest workout is a great way to mix up your training. It’s one to do in the gym because it requires a variety of free weights, a weights bench that can be set on an incline, and a cable machine. As well as hitting the chest from different angles, the workout also uses different rep ranges to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible. If you do just one chest workout in the gym this week, make it this one.
How To Do This Workout
The workout is broken up into two moves done as straight sets followed by two supersets. The first superset is performed on an incline bench with dumbbells with the other done using a cable machine. A superset means you do one set of exercise A, then rest for the time specified, followed by one set of exercise B then the rest period. Then you return to exercise A and repeat that sequence until you’ve completed all the sets.
Go as heavy as you can while maintaining good form with the first two exercises. This will get your chest muscles firing hard, which means you can then work them even harder in the supersets, where you’ll be minimising rest to fatigue as many muscle fibres as possible.
Sets 5 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why A narrow grip keeps your form strict to work your chest harder.
How Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with a shoulder-width grip. Lower the bar to your chest, keeping your elbows tight to your sides, then press it back up powerfully.
Sets 5 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why It “opens up” your chest and works it through a range of motion hard to replicate.
How Lie on a flat bench holding a dumbbell with both hands above your chest. Slowly lower the weight behind your head until you feel a good stretch in your lats. Pause, then lift the weight back to the start position.
Expert tip The two moves below make up a superset, which means you’ll do all the reps of 3A, rest for 30 seconds, then do all the reps of 3B, then rest for 60 seconds. Do four total sets, then move on to the final superset of this workout.
3A Incline dumbbell bench press
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 30sec
Why It targets the upper portion of the pecs muscles.
How Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under complete control.
3B Incline dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It works your chest in isolation.
How Switch to lighter dumbbells than you used for the incline dumbbell bench press. Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weights down to the sides, then squeeze your chest to return to the start.
4A Standing cable flye
Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 30sec
Why It will build better pec width.
How Stand in the middle of a cable machine holding a D-handle in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows and your chest up, bring your hands down in an arc to meet in front of your chest. Pause, then reverse the movement to the start.
Expert tip The final two moves of the session, good form and range of motion are more important than weight, so choose a level of resistance that allows you to perform the two moves perfectly.
4B Standing cable cross-over
Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 60sec
Why It works the chest through its full range.
How Stand in the middle of a cable machine holding a D-handle in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows and your chest up, bring your hands down in an arc to meet in front of your bellybutton. Pause and hold, then reverse the movement to the start.
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Joe Warner worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, from 2008 to 2013, then returned as editor of Men’s Fitness UK from 2016 to 2019.
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