When it comes to building a bigger chest, many men (and women) focus on the wrong aspects of lifting. One of the primary mistakes many are making is the fact that they’re focusing on lifting too heavy, rather than the right amount of reps.
This is a classic mistake. Yes, you want to increase strength while trying to build a huge chest. But, if your primary goal is increasing the size (hypertrophy), then you’re going to focus primarily on making sure you do enough reps, rather than trying to lift too heavier a weight. And, that’s just the starting point!
Think of it this way. When it comes to building a bigger chest, there are many chest building tips you can focus on which will help but only to a certain extent. Focus on living in the 10 to 12 rep range, rather than the 5 to 8 rep range.
So, let’s highlight a few of the best exercises to help you build a huge chest, and some chest building tips (dos and don’ts) to help you on your way towards reaching your goal.
Best Exercises for Building a Huge Chest
Some exercises are going to be far greater than others for helping you increase the size of your chest. These are a few exercises every bodybuilder has to throw into the mix if they want to see a huge chest at the end of the day.
There’s no way around it, the bench press is the primary exercise everyone focuses on when it comes to building a bigger chest. And, it’s obvious why. It works both the upper and lower chest muscles and allows you to place stress on the muscle group to increase it. Bench pressing is the ultimate muscle builder. Focus on a wider grip and use your first set as a warm up. You can do
- 3 to 4 sets
- The first set is your warm up, about 20 presses
- Sets 2 and 3 you can do 10 to 12 reps
- Set 4 is 10 to 12 reps
Set a primary goal of fatiguing the muscle instead of just counting down.
Incline & Decline Dumbbell Presses
Both incline and decline dumbbell presses are great for working the chest. With incline, you can work the upper chest and decline focus on the lower chest muscles. Similarly, to bench pressing, you’re working to fatigue the muscles. You can do 2 to 3 sets of each, focusing. You’re not going to get as many reps, as working these muscles independently doesn’t allow for max force. Focus on 10 to 15 reps, or until failure with these presses.
Starting out keep the weight the same, as you progress try different techniques to keep your body guessing, like pyramiding, drop sets, super sets and to keep from getting stale and bored. For the first set (or first two) try to knock out 10 to 12 reps, and for the final set, push until failure.
Make sure form is correct, and that your elbows never drop below the shoulders. Also, make sure you squeeze the pecs throughout, as this will allow for full muscle contraction.
Flat dumbbell flies are also great for building chest size. The reason being is that you’re working more muscle fibers across the chest than you do with other press exercises. Here you’ll do 2 sets. Similar to incline and decline presses, choose one weight for both sets. For the first set, do 10 to 15 reps, and the second, complete as much reps as possible until failure.
Focus on deep movement and stretching out the fibers, also focus on slow and controlled movements. Make sure your fly doesn’t come down below the flat position (the flat bench) as this can lead to injury. The form still important!
Push-ups are excellent for building chest size. Pick a number and go for it! Say you start with 50 push-ups. Try to complete the 50 in as few sets as possible. Over time, build this number up, and focus on pushing through until failure. The fewer sets you can complete the push-ups in, the more you’re going to build the muscle size.
You can also incorporate different types of push-ups including
- Staggered push-ups
- Weighted (place a dumbbell on your back or wear a weighted vest)
- Diamond, wide stance, etc.
Mix things up, and focus on working through until failure. Push more and allow your muscles to burn. This will result in greater chest size as you build your strength as well.
Focus on Repetitions
When it comes to performing these exercises to develop a huge chest you need to focus on more reps and less weight. It’s not power training. Your primary focus shouldn’t be benching 500 pounds for one rep. Instead, you want to bring that weight down say to 250 (obviously everyone is different), for 10 to 12 reps.
Hypertrophy is only achieved with more reps. It’s the process of pumping more blood to the area, increasing circulation, in turn, increasing the size of the muscle. Our primary goal here is hypertrophy, so you have to train this way to see the results. When trying to build a bigger chest, focus on more repetition, consider 3 to 4 sets of each exercise, and keep the weight down. You’ll see far greater results this way.
Do’s & Don’ts
So, now we’ll focus on the best chest building tips, regarding things you should and shouldn’t be doing, as you’re training for a larger size.
There are many tactics you can implement to help increase chest size, some things you need to do include
- Fuel the body; try to eat protein (25 to 30 g) pre- and post-workout. Lifting weights requires fuel, especially if you’re focused on compound exercises and larger muscle groups like the chest.
- Rest. Many people believe it’s a matter of going all out, all the time. This isn’t the case. If you want to increase the size of your chest, while preventing tears and injuries, give it 3 to 4 days between your chest workouts at the gym.
- Isolate the chest when working out. You’re not doing isolation exercises; you’re doing compound exercises; but you want to focus on isolating the chest muscles to help you build size
- Train with intensity and focus; if you’re going at it halfway, expect halfway results in the process.
- Have patience. Especially if you’re older. A 20-year old is going to put on mass a little faster than a 45-year-old. Your body isn’t built overnight.
What should you avoid doing as you’re trying to build a bigger chest? Consider some of these things
- Don’t focus on how much. Remember, you’re not training like a powerlifter, instead, focus on training as a bodybuilder. Try to live in higher-rep, less weight when pressing, pushing, benching, and performing other chest exercises
- Think you’ll grow in a couple of weeks. On average, men can put on up to two pounds of muscle mass within a month. If you think you’re putting on 20 pounds of muscle, all in your chest, in 1-month, you’re going to fail miserably
- Don’t count calories. If you’re eating 1200 calories, working your chest twice a week, legs, shoulders, and back the other days, you’re not going to see the results. Your body needs fuel, regularly in the form of lean protein – so feed it!
- Avoid lifting the weight yourself. If you’re maxing out, you’re in the world of the powerlifter again. There’s no way you’re achieving max muscle contraction in the target muscle if you’re trying to bench press 500 pounds (and you weigh 180 pounds). It’s better to have a spotter help push the weight, and focus on more (reps), and decreasing the weight so you can fully contract the chest muscles
- Don’t perform isolation exercises, instead, focus on compound movements.
In summing up, Train with a weight you can move for 10 to 12 reps. Lifting too heavy a weight in the low rep ranges will lead to strength, but not necessarily muscle size.
Also, lifting too heavy can lead to injury. Train like a bodybuilder not a powerlifter.
Make sure you are taking in enough good calories to sustain your workouts and you are getting enough rest for growth.
Follow these tips and soon you’ll be walking around with a huge chest.