The Best Chest Exercises For Mass

Since Arnie’s heyday, there seems to be something almost sacred about chest day, as countless male gym-goers look to build the kind of big pecs made famous by the Austrian Oak.

A strong chest has become such a focal point of weight training that simply revealing to someone you’ve ever touched a barbell will more than likely prompt the response ‘how much do you bench?’ But there’s more to building mass on your chest than the bench press, and here we’ll look at some of the best chest exercises for mass.

 

Preparing For Your Mass Building Chest Exercises

As we mentioned in our best back exercises for mass article, there are a few prerequisites to muscle building that are important to address before we move on to the workouts.

The first is to make sure you’re eating enough – if you’re not eating at a caloric surplus then you’re not going to put on any muscle. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of protein (aim for 1g per 1lb of lean body weight) and sleeping well and you’ll find you progress far quicker.

 

Some Additional Chest Building

There are two muscles that work to make the chest function – the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, with the minor sitting underneath the major. Although the chest can essentially be considered one mass of muscle, it can (and should) be broken into three parts when it comes to training, and the lower, middle and upper sections can all be targeted through changing the angle at which the exercise is executed.

The upper chest is targeted more when using an incline bench, ideally set to 30-45 degrees. A flat bench setup can be used to train the middle chest most effectively, while a decline bench should be used to target the lower chest.

As with most size building programs, keep your reps between 10-12 reps for 3-4 sets. Chest training should ideally be based around the big compound lifts like the bench press with a few other accessory lifts thrown in for additional volume.

Beginner

 

Barbell Bench Press

  1. Set up on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulder blades together and lie back on the bench
  2. The barbell should be grasped slightly outside of shoulder-width
  3. Lift the barbell off the rack and move it to the starting position above the middle of your chest
  4. Lower the bar in a controlled manner until it just touches your chest
  5. Raise the bar back up until your arms are straight and your elbows are locked
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

This movement can also be performed on an incline or a decline bench. Incline will target the upper chest a little more, while decline will target the lower chest.

 

Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. On a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor, grab a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Starting position is the arms above the middle of the chest with palms facing forward
  3. Lower the weights by bending your elbows until they’re at a 90 degree angle, upper arms parallel to the floor
  4. Push the weight back to the starting position in a controlled manner
  5. Repeat for the desired reps

As with the traditional bench press, this movement can also be performed on an incline bench to target the upper chest or a decline bench to target the lower chest.

 

Dumbbell Fly

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie down on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor
  2. Lift the dumbbells over your chest with a slight bend in your arms – this is the starting position
  3. Lower the dumbbells either side of your chest in an arc motion, maintaining the slight bend in the arms
  4. Return the dumbbells to the starting position in a controlled fashion
  5. Repeat

This movement can also be performed on an incline or decline bench, targeting the upper and lower chest respectively.

 

Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullover

  1. Set up by lying on a flat bench with your feet on the floor and your head at the end of the bench
  2. Grab a single dumbbell and raise it over your chest, holding it with both hands
  3. Keeping your arms and elbows as straight as possible, lower the weight in an arc over your head towards the ground
  4. Return the dumbbell to the starting position above the chest in a controlled manner

 

Intermediate

 

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

  1. Lie down on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor
  2. Grasp the bar inside shoulder width, placing the hands approximately 14” apart
  3. Raise the barbell over your body and move to the starting position above the middle of your chest
  4. Lower the bar until it touches your chest lightly
  5. Push the bar back up to the starting position, with your elbows locked and arms straight
  6. Repeat for the target number reps

 

Wide Grip Bench Press

  1. Set up the same as a normal bench press – flat bench, feet on the floor
  2. Hands should be outside shoulder width, a few inches wider than your normal bench press grip
  3. Move the bar off the rack and to the starting position above the middle of the chest
  4. Lower the bar in a controlled manner until it’s just touching the chest
  5. Push the bar back up to the starting position, locking the elbows
  6. Repeat

 

Bent Arm Pullover

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your head hanging slightly over the edge, feet flat on the ground
  2. Grab the bar with a narrow grip, hands approximately 14” apart
  3. Your elbows should be kept in throughout the motion
  4. The starting position is with the arms extended over the chest
  5. Slowly lower the bar in a controlled arc over your head and towards the floor
  6. Pull the bar back up to the starting position slowly

This movement can also be performed with dumbbells if you don’t have access to a barbell

 

Chest Dips

  1. Stand between the parallel bars at the dipping station
  2. Grip the handles of the bars and set up in the starting position with the arms straight and elbows locked
  3. The elbows should remain close to the body and the nips should remain straight
  4. Lower your body forward by bending your elbows, leading with the chest as you go down
  5. Push yourself back up to the starting position

 

Cable Crossover

  1. Adjust the cable pulley machine to shoulder height
  2. Grab the handles with both hands and set up about a foot in front of the weights, one foot slightly in front of the other
  3. Bring your hands together in front of your chest at a downward angle, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows
  4. Pause for a moment as your hands meet in the middle
  5. Return to the starting position in a slow, controlled motion

 

Advanced

 

Hammer Grip Incline Bench Press

  1. Set your bench up at a 45-degree angle
  2. Grab a dumbbell with each hand and lie back on the bench with your feet flat on the ground
  3. Raise the weights to shoulder height at either side of your chest with your palms facing each other
  4. Extend the arms fully, locking out the elbows at the top of the movement
  5. Return the weights to the position outside the chest in a controlled manner
  6. Repeat

 

Wide Grip Decline Barbell Pullover

  1. Set your bench to a slight decline, with the knees slightly higher than your head and your feet on the floor
  2. Grab the bar with an extremely wide grip, with the hands close to the plates
  3. Starting position is on the upper thighs
  4. Raise the barbell up and over your head in an arc towards the floor
  5. Return the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner

 

Barbell Front Raise Pullover

  1. Lie down on a flat bench and grab the barbell with a medium grip, about 15” apart
  2. Lock your arms straight and place the barbell on your upper thighs
  3. Keep a tight core while lying flat, raise your arms in an arc over the chest and over and behind your head
  4. Return the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner

 

Incline Cable Fly

  1. Set up a bench at a 45-degree angle between the cable towers
  2. Grab the handles in both hands with the palms facing up
  3. Set up with a slight bend in the elbows, squeeze the chest and pull the cables in an arc until they meet in the middle of the chest
  4. Pause for a moment in the middle of the movement before returning to the starting position slowly

 


  • Updated May 25, 2020
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