The Best Chest Workouts for Men to Build a Bigger Chest

strong shirtless man in a gym working on his chest

Want to build a bigger chest? Maybe you’re already stacked, and you want a shredded chest? Or perhaps you’re just in it to learn how to make your pecs jump. No matter your goal, you need a detailed workout; a blueprint for impressive chest muscles. Let’s review the top goals for targeting your chest, and the best chest workouts for men.

Get Big: Chest Workouts for Mass

The foundation of muscle growth is based on bringing the muscle to complete fatigue or the point where you can no longer complete the exercise.

It’s tempting to perform one giant chest-crushing workout per week, but we recommend targeting your chest twice per week, splitting the total volume – sets and repetitions – between two workouts. Here’s why:

Twice-a-week chest workouts allow you to push yourself harder. If you attempt to perform too many total sets in one workout, you’ll hit a point of burnout and your chest won’t be able to push the same weight plates. Splitting up the workouts gives you a chance to go all-out for the entirety of the workout.

Hitting your chest twice per week is also a safer way to build mass since you have a lower risk of overtraining and under-recovery. In other words, you don’t have to worry about pushing your chest muscles to the point of strain, and you’ll have plenty of time to rest, eat healthy, and supplement to promote healing.

Acute Variables for Building Mass

Each fitness goal has a specific set of acute variables or the numbers behind your workout: sets, reps, weight used, etc.

When it comes to getting your chest as swole as possible, you want to begin by using heavy weight, high sets, and low repetitions. Then move into moderately-heavy weight, medium sets, and slightly higher reps. Finally, you’ll end with a burnout set (more on this below). In general, the heavier the weight you use, the fewer reps you perform.

      • Sets: 3 to 5
      • Repetitions: 4 to 15
      • Weight to Use: 65% to 85% of your one-repetition maximum
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 2 seconds lifting the weight
        • 0 seconds pausing
        • 2 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

Chest Exercises for Building Mass

As for the type of chest exercises for men that you should use, you’ll want to start with the barbell bench press. This is where you can load up those plates and go all out. After this, you should switch to dumbbells as they ensure that each side of the chest is doing its part. Dumbbells are the best way to correct muscle strength imbalances.

Chest Workouts for Mass

Give yourself at least two days of rest in between each workout. For example, perform Workout A on Monday and Workout B on Thursday.

On the last set of the final exercise, perform as many repetitions as you can with good form. Once you reach failure, lower the weight and do one more set with as many reps as possible.

Workout A

      • Push-Ups: Warm-Up: 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions
      • Incline Bench Barbell Press: 5 x 4 – 6
      • Dumbbell Chest Fly: 3 x 8 – 10
      • Cable Crossover: 3 x 10 – 12
      • Single Arm Dumbbell Press: 1 x 8 – 10 and 1 x Failure (do as many as you can)

Workout B

      • Push-Ups: Warm-Up: 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions
      • Flat Bench Barbell Press: 5 x 4 – 6
      • Dumbbell Pullover: 3 x 8 – 10
      • Low Cable Crossover: 3 x 10 – 12
      • Plyometric Push-Ups: 1 x 8 – 10 and 1 x Failure (do as many as you can)

Ripped and Shredded: Chest Workouts for Definition

Keeping chest muscle size while increasing the definition and vascularity or visible veins is a balancing act between muscle building exercises and increased energy expenditure. In other words, you want to continue pushing yourself to muscular fatigue (as described above), while you increase the emphasis on cardiovascular exercise.

The best way to do this is two-fold: First, we’ll start incorporating the techniques of super sets and drop sets into your workouts. Second, we’ll continue with twice-a-week workouts, ensuring maximum muscular fatigue without risking overtraining.

Acute Variables for Definition

When your goal is to get a ripped chest, you’ll want to use a moderate amount of sets, higher repetitions, and lighter (but not too light) weights.

      • Sets: 3 to 5
      • Repetitions: 8 to 20
      • Weight to Use: 50% to 75% of your one-repetition maximum
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 2 seconds lifting the weight
        • 1 seconds pausing
        • 3 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 45 to 90 seconds

Chest Exercises for Definition

Chest workouts with dumbbells are the ideal way to focus on definition and getting shredded. With the emphasis on muscle fatigue and performing multiple exercises back to back with super sets and drop sets, you need to be able to move quickly and safely. Dumbbells allow you to do this. What’s more, dumbbells help to correct any imbalance in muscle size, shape, or strength.
Chest Workouts for Definition

As mentioned above, chest workouts for definition are going to be split over two days per week using the super setting and drop setting techniques.

A super set is when you perform an exercise for the prescribed repetitions, then immediately jump into another exercise with no break in between. Super-set pairs of exercises are listed with the same letter (e.g., AA, BB, etc.).

A drop set is when you perform an exercise for a certain number of reps, but instead of switching exercises, you lower the weight and perform the same number of reps. You do this several times, taking the muscle to complete failure.

Workout A

      • Push-Ups: Warm-Up: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
      • A: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 x 5 – 8
      • A: Cable Crossover: 3 x 10 – 12
      • B: Decline Barbell Bench Press: 3 x 5 – 8
      • B: Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 10 – 12
      • Drop Set: Low Cable Fly: 5 x 8 (perform 8 repetitions, lower the weight by 5 pounds and perform 8 more. Repeat for a total of 5 sets)

Workout B

      • Push-Ups: Warm-Up: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
      • A: Half-Kneeling Cable Chest Press: 3 x 6 – 8
      • A: Single Arm Cable Crossover: 3 x 10
      • B: Chest Press Machine: 3 x 10 – 15
      • B: Plyometric Push-ups: 3 x 5
      • Drop Set: Flat Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 x 8 (perform 8 repetitions, lower the weight by 5 lbs. and perform 8 more. Repeat for a total of 5 sets)

Build a Foundation: Best Chest Workouts for Beginners

When you’re just starting out in the weight room, it’s essential that you walk before you run. Beginner chest workouts for men should be a combination of bodyweight exercises and machines along with an occasional dumbbell-based exercise.

Before your ego starts whining about how you should ditch the beginner routine and jump into benching 350 pounds, listen up: Learning the basics is the key to having a healthy long-term relationship with your weight room; one that doesn’t end in injury.

Bodyweight exercises and machines help you to learn proper technique while promoting the development of neuromuscular connections. In other words, all of your muscle groups will learn to work together, supporting each other for more complicated movements.

Acute Variables for the Beginner’s Chest Workout

Similar to those training for definition, beginners should use a moderate amount of sets, higher repetitions, and lighter weights. The biggest difference is the amount of time spent lifting and lowering the weight. Since you’re learning the foundations of fitness, you want to take it slow…very slow.

Another key difference is resting time: Your central nervous system is going to need a bit more time to jump back into the workout so you should rest longer.

      • Sets: 3 to 5
      • Repetitions: 8 to 20
      • Weight to Use: 50% to 75% of your one-repetition maximum
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 3 seconds lifting the weight
        • 1 seconds pausing
        • 3 to 4 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 90 to 120 seconds

Chest Exercises for Beginners

As mentioned above, the chest exercises for beginners should be a combination of primarily bodyweight exercises with some machine and dumbbell-based exercises thrown in. The idea is to hammer on the basics of weightlifting; those movements that will help you build muscle, power, and strength while burning fat simultaneously.

Chest Workouts for Beginners

There are no special training techniques or burnout strategies here. We want you to focus on mastering the form and execution of each chest exercise. Remember to take it slow during your lifting tempo. Focus on the chest muscle as you work and try to build a strong mind-to-muscle connection.

Also, as a beginner, be sure that you have a solid workout program for your entire body, not just your chest.

      • Push-Ups: 3 sets of 8 to 20 repetitions (perform as many as you can within this repetition range)
      • Flat Bench Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 – 10
      • Machine Fly: 2 x 12 – 15
      • Single-Arm Machine Chest Press: 2 x 8 – 10

Upper Chest Workout

Have you been following a static chest routine that hasn’t incorporated the incline? Muscle development is all about variety. If you’ve been focusing on flat bench exercises, and you want well-rounded and balanced chest muscles, it’s time to target the upper chest.

Acute Variables for the Upper Chest

For this upper chest workout for men, we’re going to focus on building mass and strength at the same time. Getting a bigger upper chest will make your frame balanced, and the more strength you develop, the more you can lift. It’s the cycle of fitness life.

In order to build mass and strength simultaneously, we’re going to use the 5 x 5 system. You can find a more straightforward way of lifting. You will perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions for each exercise. The trick is that you use a weight heavy enough so you can’t perform any more than those 5 repetitions.

      • Sets: 5
      • Repetitions: 5
      • Weight to Use: 75% to 90% of your one-repetition maximum (heavy enough to get no more than 5 reps)
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 1 seconds lifting the weight
        • 0 seconds pausing
        • 3 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 90 to 120 seconds

Upper Chest Exercises

Exercising for bodybuilding Target muscles are marked in red

When you want to build your upper chest, it’s all about the incline. Sure, that might sound boring, but we’re going to keep it interesting by utilizing barbells and dumbbells along with single arm techniques. In this way, you’ll be isolating each side of the upper chest and ensuring an even work distribution.

Upper Chest Workouts

When using the 5 x 5 system, it’s essential that you select a weight that you can push up no more than five times. Go heavy and give each set everything you have.

      • Incline Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 repetitions
      • Reverse Grip Bench Press: 5 x 5
      • Incline Single-Arm Bench Press: 5 x 5
      • Incline Machine Press: 5 x 5

Lower Chest Workouts

Chances are that if weren’t giving a lot of love to your upper chest, your lower chest is suffering just as much. No different than the upper chest workouts, lower chest workouts are also essential for a symmetrical chest and overall upper body.

Acute Variables for the Lower Chest

Ever notice that you can lift a lot more during a decline bench press? For the lower chest workouts, we’re going to take advantage of this boost in strength and utilize negative training.

Negative training is when you lift 150% to 200% of your one-repetition maximum focusing on the eccentric or lowering portion of the lift. You’ll need the help of two trusty spotters who will lift the weight for you, then you take charge of the lowering portion only. For good measure, we’ll also throw in a super set at the end of the workout.

      • Sets: 1 to 5
      • Repetitions: 1 to Failure (depends on strength levels)
      • Weight to Use: 150% to 200% of your one-repetition maximum (with the exception of the super set)
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 0 seconds lifting the weight
        • 0 seconds pausing
        • 5 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 120 seconds

Lower Chest Exercises

Lower chest exercises will focus on the decline bench as this is the best way to target that portion of your chest. However, we also utilize the chest dip bars since you can target the lower chest by leaning forward.

Lower Chest Workouts

Negative training can produce incredible results in size and strength, but it’s absolutely essential that you get the help of two people you trust. In other words, find people who are stronger than you.

      • Decline Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 3 – 5 reps
      • Decline Fly: 5 x 3 – 5
      • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 x 3 – 5
      • A: Chest Dips: 1 x Failure (do as many as you can)
      • A: Decline Push-Ups: 1 x Failure

Chest Workouts at Home

chest workout on a bench

What if you can’t get to a gym for chest day? Maybe you’re traveling for business or you can’t find a gym that’s reasonably close; can you still build an impressive set of pecs at home? Absolutely.

Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, utilizing chest workouts at home can help to build muscle and strength while improving definition. Best of all, it’s a workout you can take anywhere.

Acute Variables for Chest Workouts at Home

Since you’ll only be using bodyweight exercises, you’ll want to focus on high intensity. The best way to do this is with a combination of a very slow tempo and little rest between exercises.

      • Sets: 5
      • Repetitions: 5
      • Weight to Use: Bodyweight
      • Tempo (or how quickly you lift and lower the weight):
        • 2 seconds lifting the weight
        • 1 seconds pausing
        • 4 seconds lowering the weight
      • Rest: 120 seconds (after you’ve completed the list)

Chest Exercises at Home

When all you have is floor space, the push-up is going to be your go-to exercise for the chest. Although it may seem boring at first, there are plenty of push-up variations to do that target the chest at different angles, helping you achieve a set of strong and well-rounded chest muscles.

Chest Workouts at Home

With this workout, you’ll want to complete all of the repetitions for an exercise then immediately move on to the next exercise. Only after you’ve completed the list should you take a break; this is one cycle. After your break is over, perform the list again. Complete five cycles.

      • Plyometric Push-Up: 5
      • Chest Squeeze Push-Up: 5
      • Kneeling One-Arm Push-Up: 5
      • Suspended Push-Up: 30 seconds

Want to Build an Impressive Chest? Now You Have No Excuses

Muscular man working out in gym doing exercises with dumbbells, strong male naked torso abs

Whether you want a bigger, leaner, or stronger chest, you now have an arsenal of chest workouts for men at your fingertips. No matter which workout you follow, the most important thing is consistency. You won’t see any results if you throw in the towel after a week. Try one of these workouts for at least six weeks, judge your progress, and consider switching up to a different chest workout to keep seeing better results.

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