If it’s not bicep curls, it’s the bench press.

The two areas that guy’s tend to focus most of their attention to in the gym.

And although it’s important to build biceps and a nice, well-proportioned chest. The way to achieve this is unlike how most guys are going about doing this — endless cable machine and high-rep workouts.

A small chest is a common challenge for most guys. Why? Because in day-to-day life, no demands are placed on the chest muscles. Which is why they need to be directly trained.

But how?

Bench press, bench press, bench press!

Yes! Cable machines won’t cut it. They just won’t. Not if they are the centre of your chest muscle building universe.

And forget about burning out on high reps with cable flies. That is how you will guarantee being stuck in a rut, wondering why you’ve made little to no progress in building a chest to be proud of.

The “secret sauce” to an outstanding chest

Getting your daily protein requirements and getting enough calories according to your goals. That’s point one.

Secondly, emphasizing heavy bench pressing that is 5 to 7 repetitions per set, at no more than 8 sets per workout.

How much weight should you start your bench press at? Whatever weight necessary to push a minimum of 5 reps and a maximum of 7 reps.

As a beginner, you need to trial-and-error the weight.

How do you progress? Easy. When you hit 7 reps, increase the weight on the bar by 2.5 kg or 5 pounds. Aim to progress once per week. After 6 to 8 weeks, progression will slow down and the weight on the bar may need to be reduced to 1.25 kg or 2 pounds, week after week.

Don’t be dismayed if you make no progress across 1 to 2 weeks. Like weight loss (fat loss,) progression is never linear.

Make sure you give your chest muscles 3 minutes rest between sets. Not 60 seconds. No drop sets. A full 3 minutes of rest. This will allow your muscles to recover enough to exert maximum force in the proceeding set.

Key Points

  • Always full range of motion. There are no shortage of guys that do bench press at half range of motion. Where the bar goes halfway down to touching their chest. There is no way you will build an impressive chest if you do that. Half reps = half the potential results.
  • Bench press is your friend. It is nerve-racking if you’ve never bench pressed before. Get someone to show you how to bench correctly. It will take a few sessions but it is worth it.

What I’ve been doing

  • Incline and flat bench press twice per week, with barbells or dumbbells
  • Usually two days rest between chest training sessions
  • 3 minutes rest between sets
  • 5–7 reps per set

Exercise Selection

The following exercises are clickable links to watch the demonstration video.

The exercise choice is not that flattering, and it doesn’t need to be. Keep it simple. This list is all you need to choose from to build an outstanding chest.

You can alternate between dumbbell and barbell variations, incline or decline.

You can also include the decline bench press but I do not recommend it. Why? It reduces the range of motion compared to the flat or incline bench press. Which is why you should avoid it. Whenever range of motion is reduced on any exercise, the effectiveness of that exercise is reduced and your results will be lackluster.

So you can program your “chest” day by selecting any two exercises from the above list. You can combine 1 barbell with 1 dumbbell exercise, or 1 flat with 1 incline exercise.

The dumbbell pec fly should be your secondary or accessory exercise to the major bench press.

My Typical Chest Day

Warm-up sets come first following by the working sets of the following exercises.

  1. Inclined Barbell Bench Press

Once I complete the 3–4 warm-up sets for my chest. I jump straight into the “work” sets

4 sets @ 5 to 7 reps each (with 3 minutes rest between sets)

2. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

No need to do warm-up sets. I jump straight into the “work” sets

4 sets @ 5 to 7 reps each (with 3 minutes rest between sets)

That’s it. I may do 1 or 2 additional sets of dumbbell pec fly or dips, but not very often.

Let me know how you go!

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