Having a muscular and shredded chest is a dream of every bodybuilder. This is because the chest is the most noticeable muscle group and plays a key role in a balanced physique.
Table of Contents
- Chest Muscles
- Importance of Pectoral Strength
- The Workouts
A strong chest has importance for the overall strength of your body. An effective chest workout comprises many angles so that you work each muscle fully.
There is a great importance of a clean diet in building a shredded chest because there is a lot of stubborn fat in the chest region.
To build a muscular chest first, you need to understand the anatomy of pecs. When you know how to target different muscles, it would be easier to focus on the weaker muscle groups.
This is the biggest muscle of your chest. It comprises two different heads; the sternal (lower head) and the clavicular (upper head).
You might hear these terms commonly as upper and lower chest by your trainer or other bodybuilders at the gym.
The sternal head is quite bigger than the clavicular head. It’s responsible mainly for three types of motions.
Shoulder Extension: Pulling your arm downwards from a position above your head. An example is doing a pullover.
Horizontal adduction: Pulling your arms across the body. Example of this
Internal Rotation: Rotation of the upper limb of the shoulders towards the midline of the chest.
The clavicular head also has three types of motions, the only difference is that it is responsible for shoulder flexion instead of extension.
Shoulder flexion is done when you lift your arms. An example is doing an incline bench press.
And, these motions are used to develop the specific pectoral exercises for targeting the specified muscle groups.
The pectoralis minor is a small muscle group but has a major role in defining the shape of the chest.
We mostly hit this muscle group while performing lower chest exercises. The primary function of pec minor is the internal and downward rotation of the scapula.
If trained properly, they give your chest a round and 3D look. When you are performing a decline cable fly, you are working on pec minor muscles.
There are plenty of upper and lower pec workouts you can perform to give your chest a defined and muscular look.
Importance of Pectoral Strength
Apart from the reality that a strong chest just looks great and makes you stand out, there are a variety of reasons why training chest is so important.
The chest muscles assist in the majority of upper body movements. You might think that for doing simple movements such as opening a door you are just using your arms but the chest muscles are helping in performing those actions.
Surprisingly, the chest muscles are also involved in the movement of the rib cage during breathing.
We spend most of the time of the day in a slouched position such as when using a mobile or laptop. This can cause tightening of your pec muscles and over time it can pull your shoulder blades forward.
Chest exercises can help you in improving the strength and flexibility of these pectoral muscles.
A good posture is important to help us function optimally in routine life as well as while performing exercises.
No doubt working on all muscle groups is needed for maintaining a better posture but as the chest is a major muscle group so it has more importance.
Improved Upper-Body Strength
Your upper body strength mainly depends upon your chest and back muscles. The pectoral muscles are involved in many different upper-body movements so they improve your overall upper-body strength.
Strong chest muscles play a major part in your ability to push a heavy object. It also helps you in performing swinging movements such as playing golf.
If you are into weight training for some time, you might have seen people training chest and triceps or chest and shoulders in a split. It is because while engaging chest muscles, you lift the weight through your triceps.
Chest exercises comprise mainly of compound movements. So, you engage a variety of muscle groups while training your chest.
Imagine how you would feel standing in a group of people with your chest sloughed, it can have an instant negative impact on your confidence.
But if your chest looks broad and you stand tall with a good posture, it will not only complement your clothes but will also boost your confidence.
Men are often insecure about the fat accumulated around their chest, it’s also known as male boobs.
If you want to wear those V-neck tees and carry yourself with confidence then you must have a well-defined chest.
The problem with most of the chest workouts is that they focus on compound exercises and mostly target the middle chest.
Especially if you are doing weight training on your own, then you would probably be doing the basic exercises that you heard from some trainers online.
Bench pressing with heavier weights or doing push-ups until failure won’t be effective unless your pec workout hits all the muscle groups of the chest.
So, we bring you the best workout for building defined pecs. This is backed up by research and has been recommended by our professional bodybuilders.
1. Barbell Bench Press
Make sure that you warm-up, before starting your workout. Warming up makes you less prone to injuries and also boosts your performance.
The first exercise that we will be doing is the barbell bench press. It’s a basic yet highly effective exercise for building upper body strength.
There are different variations for doing a bench press, but we will start with a traditional press on a flat bench.
How to Do It
- Lie on your back on a flat bench, and grip the barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Lift the bar and squeeze your chest when you reach the top position.
- Lower the bar till there is a slight gap between you and the chest.
- When lowered, your bar should be above the nipple area of the chest.
- Repeat this movement.
Reps: 15RM-12 RM-10 RM-8RM (Increase weight on each set)
- To maintain a mind-muscle connection, exhale as you reach the top and inhale while bringing the bar downwards.
- Keep your feet back towards your hips and keep them flat on the ground.
- Arch your back just a little bit. It will help you maintaining a neutral spine.
- While lifting heavy, always have a spotter.
2. Incline Super Set: Upper Chest Exercises
The upper chest takes time for development. Growth of the muscles in this region might be plateaued after some time if you are not being creative with your workouts.
We will be doing a superset by combining the incline bench press and dumbbell fly. Through incline bench press, we will target the clavicular region via the shoulder flexion.
Dumbbell flyes will also hit the clavicular region through horizontal abduction.
2.1 Incline Barbell Bench Press
How to Do It
- Set up the bench to an incline angle of 45 degrees, your seat height should be adjusted so that your eyes are under the bar.
- Grip the bar with your hands slightly apart.
- Lift the bar and squeeze your chest at the top.
- Lower the bar, it should come down to your clavicular bone but not touch it.
- Repeat this movement.
Reps: 15 RM - 12 RM - 10 RM - 8 RM (Increase weight on each set)
- While lifting, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull them towards your waist.
- Arch your back a little while keeping your shoulders and hip in contact with the bench.
- There should be an angle of about 75 degrees relative to your torso when you lower the bar.
2.2 Pec-Deck Exercise
You will find the pec-deck machine at every other gym in your neighborhood. This provides you a simple and effective workout for hitting the major chest muscles.
This exercise primarily works on pec major. The best part is that you can easily adjust the weight according to strength.
If you want to try going a little heavier than you can do it without a spotter in the case of the pec-deck machine. So, you can increase the intensity of a workout.
How to Do It
- Set the weight for the machine.
- You can adjust how far back the pads go according to flexibility.
- Sit on the platform and press your back firmly against the backrest.
- Grab the handles of the machine with each hand.
- Pull your arms towards your chest and feel the contraction of your pectoral muscles.
- When you bring the deck handles in front of your chest, hold this position for a while.
- Slowly release back to the starting position.
Sets: 3, 1 drop set
Reps: 15RM-12RM (Increase weight on each set)
20RM (Drop set, start with heavyweight and then drop weight gradually.)
- Exhale while pulling the handles towards your chest and inhale while releasing them.
- Don’t focus on the heavyweight, focus on the contraction of the chest.
- Don’t do more than 3 drop sets that mean only drop the weight 2 times in the last set.
Cable Crossover: Lower Chest Exercises
The decline cable crossover is one of the best exercises for building the lower chest. It effectively hits the sternal head which is found in the lower pec.
Cable crossover has many variations for hitting different chest muscles. It depends on which part of the chest you want to target.
If you are having a hard time developing lower chest then try this cable chest workout.
This exercise has a high impact and you have to put in low energy as compared to other chest exercises. Cable crossover provides a constant resistance throughout the range of motion.
How to Do It
- Attach the pulleys to the top of the cable machine and grab onto one in each hand.
- Stand in the middle of the cable stand and take one step forward.
- Lean a little forward, and there should be a slight bend in your elbows.
- Press the handles down and across your chest until they touch.
- Bring the cables back towards your body following the same path.
Reps: 15RM-12 RM-10 RM-10 RM (Increase weight on each set)
- Don’t bring the cables too far back in order to prevent excess stress on the shoulder joints
- Use elbows to press the cable against your chest.
- Avoid doing heavier weights as you won’t be able to maintain a mind-muscle connection.
The dumbbell pullover is the best finisher for your chest workout. This is an old-school chest exercise recommended and performed by all professional bodybuilders.
It also engages your back muscles and core. It is highly effective because you are causing your muscles to stretch under load. This increases the potential for muscle gain.
Reps: 12RM-12 RM-10 RM-10 RM (Increase weight on each set)
How to Do It
- Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in your hand.
- Extend the dumbbell behind your head and lower it till you feel stretch in your chest.
- Pull it back till it reaches the middle of your chest.
- Squeeze your chest as you reach that position.
- Engage your back and core muscles for stability.
- Keep your wrists strong but your hands should be relaxed.
- Try not to lift without a spotter because you can end up falling the dumbbell on your body.
Flex the Chest
Don’t think that flexing is for showing off and only pro bodybuilders can flex in the gym.
After finishing the workout, don’t forget to flex your chest muscles from all angles. This is proven to bring out the thickness and shape of your chest.
If you are a fan of vascularity then flexing after a workout can be very helpful to you.
Do a flexing session for about 5-7 minutes after your workout and you will start to feel positive changes in your chest development.
Flexing in front of a mirror will also boost your confidence and motivate you to put in more effort.