If you’re in need of a new chest workout, the following are going to fit the bill perfectly. Choosing the pec workout routine will really influence your overall physique because the chest is typically what most people notice first when you approach them.
A chest gives off a strong, masculine vibe and while having a proper V-taper with broad shoulders and a wide back is definitely going to add to the effect, a developed chest is where it all begins. Trying to get the perfect body? Check out our aesthetic workout for the ultimate routine.
And let’s face it, what guy doesn’t like training chest? It’s ranked as the favorite for most. So let’s get to it and show you some of the best upper chest exercises as well as lower chest exercises that you can add to your workout routine.
If you want to see optimal results from your chest workout, you’ll want to work chest two to three times per week, allowing for a day of rest between sessions. Frequency is a key factor in muscle growth and development, so don’t think one session per week is enough. Crank that frequency up and you’ll dial in your results.
Dumbbell Bench Press
The first exercise you’ll be doing is a dumbbell bench press. This is a core exercise that should form the foundation of just about any chest workout routine as it allows you to go heavy, push your chest to the max, and develop the strength that will precede muscle growth. Check out our great bench press exercises for more ideas to build muscle and strength.
Aim to do three sets of this exercise, taking the reps down to the 4-6 rep range, illustrating the fact that you are going to be using heavier weights on these exercises.
Your rest time should come in at around 120 seconds, which is longer than I often recommend but remember, we’re going for maximum overload here. The more weight you pile on the muscles, the more rest time they’ll need between sets to fully recover.
What I want you to really focus on with this exercise is the eccentric portion. Most guys put all the emphasis on simply getting the weight up and while that’s great, they’re missing out on half the exercise. You need to push the weight up but then control it on the way down. This way you’ll optimize the total time under tension and the strength progression you see. You can create greater muscle tears on the eccentric portion so it’s a shame to miss out on this element.
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The next exercise you’ll go into is the dumbbell pullover and with this one, you’ll be performing what I like to call an anabolic drop set.
This entails performing your typical set for 8-10 reps and then dropping the weight by around 30%. You can take 10-15 seconds to rest after the initial set while dropping the weight and setting up again. After this, you’ll want to perform another 8-10 reps and then take approximately 120 seconds rest.
In order to receive maximum results from this one, you’ll want to ensure that you are reaching failure on each and every set you do. Remember that if you reach failure on one set, when you drop the weight, you’ll be able to squeeze more out of that muscle now that the weight is less. So failure doesn’t mean total failure as if the weight changes, you can do more.
Remember to keep the mind-muscle connection of this exercise strong. As fatigue builds, it’s easy to let form go thus reducing the overall results you’ll see.
You’ll be hitting incline push-ups next during the workout, giving your muscles a break from the heavyweight and instead, focusing on time under tension.
Push-ups are a classic chest exercise and are great for doing between those heavy lifts to give your body a breather, while still keeping the intensity high. This will also help to keep the level of metabolic stress higher during this workout session.
You’ll want to do 30 seconds time under tension and then rest for 30-40 seconds before repeating a second time through. As you advance, try and work up to doing 60 seconds total time under tension and you’ll get a chest pump like you’ve never had before.
Incline Hex Press
The incline hex press is a great exercise to do to change things up from the typical dumbbell or barbell incline press and will shock your muscles to keep them responding.
The key to this exercise is making sure that you squeeze and activate your upper chest as hard as possible, which will allow you to use a lighter weight while still achieving a solid stress on the muscle tissue.
Sit in an incline press and then take two plate weights and place them together. Squeeze with both hands, pressed together in the center of the body and then press the weight up and down over the chest. As you do this, keep squeezing the entire time, making sure the upper chest is contracted.
You’ll do two sets of this for a T30 set (meaning 30 seconds time under tension) and resting for 30-40 seconds between sets. Keeping the rest periods lower while the rep range is taken higher on this move will also help bring out the best growth hormone response, which will further help with gaining mass and burning body fat at the same time.
You might be tempted to go heavier on this exercise than you should but remember, you want all the muscles to rest except the upper chest. The more weight you bring into the picture, the more total muscle activation you’re likely to get in your other muscle groups as well, so this will be less than ideal. You don’t want to turn this into an anterior shoulder exercise and if your weight gets too heavy, you very much will.
Cable Scissor Crosses
This exercise is a very basic movement but one that will get your chest feeling it and delivers an inane muscle pump. Adding at least a few good pump movements to every chest workout is a great way to ensure you’re always getting an influx of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to those muscles while they’re working.
For this one, you’ll want to stand between two cable pulleys and grab both handles with your hands. Bring them down so that you’re in a slight forward lean and the hands are crossed in front of each other. The elbows should be straightened but not fully locked in this position.
Now you’re going to want to move the hands up and to the sides, going up only until they are almost in line with the rest of the body. You don’t want to let them go back too much or this will take the tension off the chest, reducing the benefits of this exercise.
Use a slow and controlled movement pattern, thinking of squeezing the chest the entire way through and alternate the arm that crosses in front with each rep.
You’ll perform two sets of this exercise, doing a T30 set and resting for 30-40 seconds between each set.
So often we are told to use the largest range of motion possible on our exercises but in some cases, actually using a smaller range of motion proves to be very beneficial.
Cable High To Low
The next exercise is somewhat similar to the last but is hitting the chest from a different angle, so it will evoke a different training response. When it comes to training just about any muscle, variety is key. If you’re always attacking the muscle from the same angle, you aren’t ever really giving the muscle a reason to go. By changing things, you force it to respond by growing stronger and larger.
This exercise has you in a more bent over position from the past so you are pressing down rather than pulling down. Your palms will face in and you’ll adopt a greater bend in the elbows when doing this exercise.
For this exercise, you’ll be doing a T30 protocol as well, keeping the muscle under constant tension for 30 seconds before resting. You’ll keep your rest period short at just 30-40 seconds for each set.
Cable Low To High
Move to the cable machine to do some cable low to high sets. This exercise reverses the position you’re using with the cables and now rather than pushing down, you’re pulling up. As you might imagine, that is going to change the nature of the stress being placed on the chest, putting more emphasis on the upper chest instead of the lower.
You’ll do two sets using a T30 protocol and again resting for the 30-40 seconds between sets.
As you do each rep, you’ll want to alternate which arm is crossing in front of the other so both sides get worked equally.
Dumbbell Chest Flex
The dumbbell chest flex should be done for two sets and you should utilize 45 seconds of rest between each set.
You’ll primarily be focusing on upper chest activation on this exercise, so think of squeezing that muscle hard as you raise the dumbbells up towards the ceiling.
This exercise should be done in a slow and controlled manner, so as to avoid momentum from carrying you through the exercise.
You won’t count reps here, but instead, use a time under tension concept. Try and perform as many sets as you can in 30 seconds if you’re an intermediate or 45 seconds if you consider yourself advanced.
Dumbbell Fly Into Hex Press On The Ground
Now we’re doing a joint exercise combining two movements in one. By doing this exercise on the ground, you’ll limit your range of motion to help save your shoulder joints. Many guys go too far down, placing undue stress on the tendons and ligaments.
Do your dumbbell fly, focusing on activating the inner chest muscles and then with the palms facing each other, press the dumbbells down to the chest and directly back up again.
As you press up, you want to really think of driving the weight upwards by squeezing the chest muscles together. Don’t think of pressing through the arms, think of pressing through that chest.
You’ll do two sets of this exercise, resting 75 seconds between each set and doing 8-10 reps per exercise. You can alternate each exercise as you go. So do one fly followed by one hex press followed by one fly, and so on.
As you do this, remember to never lock out the elbows at the top of the move as this can also lead to additional joint pain.
Dumbbell Around The World
If you want to learn how to get a big chest, this is one of the best must-do moves to get into a dumbbell chest workout. Dumbbell around the world are going to work the chest muscle from all angles, something that many miss out on in their workout sessions.
Because you are working the shoulder joint through the entire range of motion here in a circular motion, you’ll be using lighter weights. Leave your ego at the door, guys. Don’t be ashamed if you’re only using 10 lb. dumbbells for this one. That’s normal and natural.
You’ll do two sets of this exercise, taking 45 seconds of rest between each set and aiming to do it for a total of 45 seconds under tension.
This exercise will gain you a feeling of activation like you probably haven’t felt before, so prepare for that. It’s not your typical exercise and you’ll pick up on this right away. When you push through it though and feel those muscles working, you’ll get a great burn and the soreness you get the next day will help you know that your DB only chest workout is working.
Incline Isolation Into Slow Motion Superset
Now we move onto an incline isolation press with a slow-motion superset. This exercise is great because it’ll work each arm on its own, allowing you to divert your entire focus to that arm only. Then you combine this with a slow-motion superset to really add more time under tension, which will make your chest muscles explode as you see the best pump of your life.
You’ll also get extra training gains here because you’re working every single muscle fiber deep within the chest as the superset pushes you to your limits.
You’ll perform two sets total, resting for 75 seconds between sets. You are to do 8-10 reps for each exercise. So do 8-10 reps on the right arm, pressing it up, and then 8-10 reps for the second arm, pressing it up. Once that’s finished, you’ll do a standard dumbbell press but using a slower tempo than normal. Take two seconds to lower the weight and 2-4 seconds to raise back up. Slow and controlled is the name of your game here.
Incline Inner Chest Press
The incline inner chest press is excellent for ramping up activation on that inner and upper chest thanks to being on an incline and the position of the hands and dumbbells. Hold those weights close together and press that weight up slowly and in a controlled manner.
Aim for two sets with 45 seconds rest in between and keep a total time under tension of around 30 or 45 seconds depending on your skill level.
Once you think you’d had just about enough for your chest, try adding in one last finisher: decline push-ups. You should be so fatigued by this point that there’s no need to bother with adding weight.
Just focus on keeping the movement nice and controlled on the way up and down and squeezing the chest on every rep. The decline angle of this will help put more emphasis on the upper chest rather than the lower, so it’s a great upper chest movement to maximize fatigue.
If you found these chest workouts helpful, make sure you visit our other workouts for more ideas!
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
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