The quest to build a bigger chest is never-ending, especially if you think that journey involves spending countless hours upping the weight and volume on the bench press.
As a beginner lifter, you probably aren't going to be able to build a chest like Arnold Schwarzenegger right away, but you can make chest day a day that you'll look forward to each week. Along with a growth-focused approach to nutrition and supplementation, this is what you'll need to do to see a bigger chest in the mirror.
Know Your Chest to Grow Your Chest
Though the chest is made up of one single mass of muscle, I find it responds to being trained in three parts: upper, middle, and lower. All three parts respond to the best chest exercises, but from slightly different angles.
The upper chest muscles are best stimulated by exercises done at a 30-45-degree incline. For example, the incline barbell and dumbbell bench press or incline dumbbell flyes and cable cross-overs are excellent upper chest exercises.
The middle chest muscles are best stimulated by exercises done on a flat bench. That means flat barbell and dumbbell bench presses or flat dumbbell flyes as well as push-ups, which I like to include as a finisher on chest day.
The lower chest muscles are best stimulated by exercises done on a 30-45-degree decline. Exercises include the decline barbell and dumbbell bench press, decline dumbbell flyes, and dips.
All areas of the chest respond best in the low (4-6) or moderate (8-12) rep ranges. I rarely include higher reps for beginner lifters and I believe the heavier weight helps build a more solid foundation.
I also find that free weights should be your entire focus in the beginning, especially if your chest is a weak point for you. So if you're training to get a bigger chest at home, you can follow this program with a barbell, some dumbbells, and an elevated flat surface for dips.
How to Use These Workouts
Perform one chest workout per week, preferably on a Monday or Tuesday. You can do a little light triceps work afterward, but you don't have to. They'll get plenty of work during the presses in your chest workout, then again later in the week.
Perform Workout 1 for 4-6 weeks, trying to increase your weight each workout. Then move to Workout 2 and repeat the process until you get through Workout 5. Once you're through Workout 5, you can start over at Workout 1 confident that you're bigger and stronger than you were before.
While you're on this program, use Bodybuilding.com's macronutrient calculator to make sure you're eating enough calories, protein, carbs, and fats to support your goal of muscle gains. To grow your chest, you must be in a caloric surplus, meaning that you are eating more calories than you burn.
Along with protein, a couple of key supplements to consider with these workouts are:
- Creatine monohydrate: to help build muscle and strength
- Pre-workout: to fight fatigue and help give wicked chest pumps!
Have any doubt about how to perform a movement? Click on the exercise name in the workout table, or search in the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database.