Chest Workouts For Men - Top 3 Chest Exercises For Mass

Chest Workouts For Men – Top 3 Chest Exercises For Mass

Without a doubt, a big shelf-like chest is the primary goal for many male trainees, which is why we’ve decided to dedicate an article on this exact topic – Chest workouts for men.

arnold chest

If this doesn’t motivate you to get a bigger chest, then we’re not quite sure what else will!

Having a big chest that is in proportion with the rest of the body, will without a doubt, make your physique look completely different.

And so, let’s jump right into this, by first disecting the pectoral musculature and what zones we can target.

Chest anatomy

pectoral anatomy

Now, there are underlying stabilizing chest muscles, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll showcase the muscles that actually SHOW on the surface of your chest.

Pec major – Clavicular head

The clavicular head of the pectoral musculature is located in the upper chest portion.

It is a commonly lacking body part for many trainees, because it requires a different angle of work, which trainees often ignore.

We can activate the clavicular portion of the chest via incline pressing/fly movements.


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Now, we must note that the more incline we go on those pressing movements, the more we activate the upper chest.

However, as the incline angle increases, we also activate the shoulders more.

This is exactly why, optimal upper chest work is achieved at about a 45-degree incline angle or slightly more than that.

Pec major – Sternal head

The sternal head of the pectoral musculature makes up the majority of the middle, lower and inner portions of the chest.

As you can see on the image above, it is the bigger portion of the chest.

We can target the different zones of the sternal head under a variety of angles.

Inner pecs

We can target the inner part of the chest, mainly by movements where you cross the mid line of your body with your arms.

The lower & mid parts of the sternal head can be targeted with horizontal & decline movements.

As we lower the angle to a more decline one, we start utilizing the lower portion of the chest more.

Outer pecs

We can target the outer sweep of the chest with exercises like dips and cable crossovers.

This is the part of the pectoral musculature that gives you a fuller look, especially from the side view (side chest)

Let’s start he chest workouts for men, with a workout, which you can do in the comfort of your home.

Chest workouts for men at home

If you are just getting started on training, then it would be good to consider the fact that in the very beginning, you should develop basic levels of pushing strength.

In doing so, you will be able to use heavier weights once you transition to a gym and on top of that, the pushing exercises will feel more natural

Push-ups

push-up

Sets: 5

Reps: 15,12,12,12,10

Rest times: 60-90 seconds between sets

Targets: Mid & lower pecs, front deltoids

A classic bodyweight exercise to target the chest – Does anything else beat this? Probably not.

Let’s see the execution steps:

Execution

  • Get down on the ground in a push up position, with hands placed wider than shoulder width, feet together and torso straight
  • Look down and let your body go down slowly, until the chest slightly touches the ground
  • Push up explosively, without locking out the elbows up top

Incline push-ups

incline push-up

Sets: 3

Reps: 15+

Rest times: 60-90 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper chest, front deltoids

When it comes to targeting the upper portion of the pecs, gym junkies usually go for incline pushing movements, such as barbell bench presses, or fly movements.

With bodyweigh however, we can use a pad for incline elevation. Rest assured that such an elevation will make the movement significantly easier, which is why we work in the 15+ rep range.

Execution:

  • Set up a box or a pad on the ground
  • Get in a push-up position, where your hands are placed wider than shoulder width, feet are together and torso is straight
  • Look down, avoid dropping your hips down (maintain core tight)
  • Go down slowly in a controlled manner, until your chest touches the box/pad slightly
  • Push up explosively, without locking out the elbows

Note that a slow eccentric portion of the movement will get you better chest pumps here!

Decline push-ups

decline push-up

Sets: 3

Reps: 12+

Rest times: 60 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower chest, front deltoids

The lower portion of the chest is usually best targeted with parallel bar chest dips.

However, for beginners, we have picked decline push-ups to really focus on gaining pushing strength, before we move on to more complex exercises

Execution:

  • Setup the same pad/box as you did in the previous exercise
  • This time, elevate your feet on it and get in the same push-up position with hands on the ground
  • Elevate your hips so that they are not hanging
  • Look down, then let the body go down slowly, until you are close to the ground
  • Push up, without locking out the elbows

Chest workout plan

Now, it won’t be long before you are past the beginner stage and the exercises above feel like a routine.

This is EXACTLY when it’s time for you to take the next step and add the extra resistance that weighted workouts provide.

You can’t however go in the gym and start doing what you “think” is good.

Knowing what you are doing before you start doing it is of prime importance.

Here are our best recommendations for creating your OWN plan of action when it comes to chest development:

Look at your body objectively

Often times, we sugarcoat our weak body parts and neglect them. Strip the ego away and take a look at your physique.

Is your chest lacking? If so, which part of it is less developed? Is it the upper, lower or mid portion?

In many cases, it is the upper portion of the chest, as we mentioned above.

Once you have acknowledged which part is behind, prioritize it.

The priority principle implies placing that part first in the training split and first in the workout.

On top of that, we throw in a good amount of quality volume and in no time, that lacking part WILL come up.

And so, unified chest workouts for men won’t cut it, which is why you need to adjust those workouts to your OWN body.

Appropriate training split

As we mentioned, you can’t just go crazy on your workouts.

Specifically for the chest workouts, we have a couple of recommendations.

First off, avoid training shoulders the day BEFORE your chest day.

Shoulders are one of the synergists that play a vital role in all pushing movements and specifically the incline ones.

Secondly, do the same for triceps – The triceps are synergistic to the chest and the shoulders.

If you smash your delts & triceps the day before chest day, odds are, your chest workout will be suboptimal.

Ultimately, we’d advise you to either train those 3 (Chest, shoulders & triceps) in the same day (push workout), or, train them in the days after chest day.

Good rest times

We usually recommend beginners to start off with 3 full body workouts every week.

However, if you’ve done bodyweight exercises and have fundamental strength & strength endurance, you can go for a push, pull & legs split.

This is a 3 day split with a rest on day four. This allows for OPTIMAL recovery in-between the separate workouts.

We generally consider that 72-96 hours of rest, before training the same muscle group again is optimal.

This is considered to be the time frame, during which the muscle fibers, energetic reserves & central nervous system manage to recover and supercomepnsate in preparation for a bigger load.

And so, if you do chest on international chest day (monday), you can feel free to smash it again on either wednesday or thursday.

Note that if you don’t feel recovered, you can feel free to take another day off and blast an optimal workout after that.

So you see, if you’re looking for the BEST chest workouts for men, it’s not just the exercise selection!

Now that we have all those points in check, let’s take a look at our most effective chest workout routine.

Best chest workout routine

This specific training routine is designed for people who have the commonly lacking upper chest.

The workout is focused around two parts

  1. Bodybuilding intensity work (65~85% of max. strength capabilities), where we use heavy, compound movements
  2. Lower intensity, higher repetition isolated work, where we use cables to squeeze the last bits of energy out of the chest.

Now let us show you some good chest workouts for MEN!

Incline dumbbell bench press

incline dumbbell bench press

Sets: 5

Reps: 15,12,10,10,8

Rest times: 60 seconds between first two sets, 80 seconds between last 3 sets

Targets: Upper chest, front deltoids

Usually many people would rely on a barbell to target their chest, but for this specific exercise, we’re using dumbbells.

In the beginning of your weight training, it is normal to experience disbalances in both sides of the body.

That is, strength disbalances, as well as muscular development ones.

With dumbbells, each side of the body works unilaterally, meaning that the weaker side will eventually catch up.

For this first exercise, we start with two light-weight, warm-up sets of 15 and 12 repetitions, followed by substantially heavier 3 working sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Execution:

  • Set up an incline bench to a 45-degree angle
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit down on the bench with the dumbbells on your legs
  • Lay back comfortably with your head rested
  • Keep the dumbbells above your body and bend elbows slightly (out of lockout)
  • Let the dumbbells go down to the outer side of your upper pecs slowly
  • Push up explosively, without locking out the elbow

Note – Not only will triceps/shoulder training before chest day hinder your chest workout, but the ELBOW lockout might do that too.

By locking out the elbow, we contract the triceps, which usually reach fatigue before the chest does.

This simply means that if the triceps fail before the chest, there is still work left for the chest, which can’t be done due to the synergistic groups failing.

Decline dumbbell bench press

Decline dumbbell press

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower & outer chest

This is our second heavy, compound movement that will blast the lower & outer portion of the pecs.

Again, we use dumbbells to allow each side to work on its own!

Execution:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit down on the incline bench, tucking your legs comfortably
  • Lay back down, resting your head on the bench
  • Keep the dumbbells above your chest, with elbows out of lockout
  • Let the dumbbells go down slowly to the outer, lower portion of the chest
  • Push up without locking out the elbows

Cable crossovers

cable crossover

Sets: 2-3

Reps: 12+

Rest times: 60 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower & outer chest

“Wait… Just 3 exercises, isn’t that too little?”

Well, if you’ve used proper intensity and managed to be close to failure on the working sets of the compound movements, you won’t have much room left for quality volume.

To finish off the workout, we BLAST the chest with high-repetition cable crossovers.

This is a trademark exercise when the goal is developing the outer & lower portions of the chest in detail.

Not only will this exercise flush your pecs with blood, but it will also improve that mind-muscle connection, simply because the activation of the chest during this exercise is insane. See for yourself.

Exercise:

  • Grab both high pulleys and stand in the center of the pulley machine
  • Take a step forward for balance
  • Bend over slightly & look down
  • Keep the arms static with a bent elbow (no elbow extension or flexion)
  • Push down, contracting the chest at the bottom
  • Let go back slowly, stretching the chest

Best chest workout for mass

Now, while beginners need to work on improving symmetry (both visual & functional), there comes a point where the intensity needs to be increased.

This is where we can start implementing those heavy barbell movements to really make the fibers work.

Remember – Growing a big chest is a matter of proper progressive overload. There really are no magic tricks.

This is exactly why for this specific workout, we will stick to the basics, as they are the foundation of the best chest workouts for men.

Let’s get to it.

Flat barbell bench press

Flat barbell bench press

Sets: 5

Reps: 15,12,10,8,6

Rest times: 60 seconds between first two sets, 90 seconds between last 3 sets

Targets: Mid & lower pecs, front deltoids

The classic chest exercise – Flat barbell bench press.

This is pretty much the benchmark for pushing strength and is a part of the BIG 3 lifts (Squats, bench & deadlifts).

Again, we use the pyramid approach, where we have two warm-up sets of 15 and 12 repetitions, followed by 3 working sets of 10,8 and 6 repetitions.

As this is a more advanced workout, the 6 rep set can be done to failure or with 1-2 reps in reserve.

Execution:

  • Set up a weighted barbell on the flat bench
  • Lie down on the bench comfortably
  • Grab the barbell wider than shoulder width (If you have longer arms, get a really wide grip)
  • Keep your head rested down & un-rack the bar
  • Bend elbows out of lockout – This is your initial position
  • Let the barbell go down slowly, until it barely touches the lower portion of the chest
  • Push up explosively to the initial position, without locking the elbows

Note that if you have shoulder issues, going all the way down may become a problem for you.

If that is the case, then make sure to push back up at the point where the bar is an inch or two above your chest.

Incline barbell bench press

barbell incline bench press

Sets: 3

Reps: 10,10,8

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

Targets: Upper pecs and front delts

Now that we’ve warmed up the pushing muscle groups with the first exercise and put some solid tension on the mid & lower portion of the chest, let’s blast the upper chest.

Again, we’re using a barbell that will certainly allow us to use a pretty heavy weight, which is essential for MASS gains.

Execution:

  • Set up a weighted barbell on the incline bench
  • Lie down comfortably and rest your head back (lifting it will place tension on the neck)
  • Grab the bar wider than shoulder width and un-rack it
  • Again, the initial position is out of elbow lock-out
  • Let the bar go down slowly to the upper portion of the chest
  • Without letting it rest at the bottom completely, push up explosively to the initial position

Chest dip

parallel bar chest dip

Sets: 2-3

Reps: Until failure

Rest times: 75 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower & outer pecs, front delts

Dumbbell pushing, barbell pushing, incline, horizontal & decline movements – Did you already forget about the good ‘ol bodyweight exercises?

Well, we didn’t.

To finish this workout & annihilate the chest further, we do 2-3 sets of parallel bar chest dips until failure.

Execution:

  • Get up on the parallel bar, supporting the body on your arms, out of elbow lockout
  • Look down, keep the body straight and feet together
  • Dip down slowly, until your upper arms are parallel to the ground
  • Push up explosively to the initial position, without locking out the elbow

Note- If you look down, your chest will contract better, due to the position of the neck. On the flipside, if you look up, the triceps will contract better.

This is also referred to as “Neck reflexes” and can be implemented in many movements for the posterior & anterior chains of the musculature.

Try it.

Lean chest workout

We’ve said in previous articles that once a trainee advances, they just have to periodize their training.

This is exactly why we made sure to go through the beginner gains stage with the bodyweight workouts, followed by intermediate/advanced workouts for MASS (Bulking period).

Now, odds are that when summer time comes, you will just WANT to get lean or shredded, to showcase the mass you’ve been working hard for.

If that’s the case, then we have some good chest workouts for men, specifically!

Incline barbell bench press

barbell incline bench press

Sets: 5

Reps: 15,12,12,12,10

Rest times: 50 seconds between all sets

Targets: Upper pecs and front delts

Now, we must note here that these compound, heavy movements must always be present in the workout, whether we’re bulking or cutting.

But specifically during a cut, they will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which in turn, will allow us ot retain that lean muscle we’ve worked hard for.

Execution:

  • Lie down on the incline bench comfortably
  • Grab the barbell wide
  • Un-rack the barbell
  • Get in the initial position with elbows out of lockout
  • Let the bar go down slowly to the upper portion of the chest
  • Push up fairly slowly, achieving an optimal contraction up top

Dumbbell flys

dumbbell chest fly

Sets: 4

Reps: 12

Rest times: 40 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower, mid & inner pecs

What are good chest workouts for men without the classical fly movements?

We need to note that the bulking period, during which we gain mass, is characterized with a compound movement dominance.

The leaning out period however, contains less compound movements and more isolated exercises.

Those are the exercises that grant peak contraction & detailed development.

Execution:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay down on the flat bench comfortably
  • Rest your head back and keep the dumbbells above your chest
  • Keep elbows slightly bent and retain that static position of the arms (No flexion or extension in the elbows)
  • Open your arms out slowly, stretching out the chest
  • Once the dumbbells are at chest line or slightly below, get the arms together to the initial position
  • Contract the chest right before the dumbbells touch & repeat the movement pattern

Note that if you have shoulder issues, this is probably not the best option for you and would be best replaced with a pec deck machine.

Cable mid fly

cable fly

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest times: 40 seconds between sets

Targets: Lower, inner & mid pecs

Ready for some high repetition, blood flushing work?

Dumbbell flys are great, but experienced trainees know how good of a pump you can get from a cable fly/crossover!

Let’s squeeze that chest.

Execution:

  • Set up the pulleys at the midline of the pulley machine (lower pulleys if the ones at your gym are not adjustable)
  • Grab both handles and take a step forward, keeping the arms behind your back with a slight bending of the elbow
  • Keep torso straight and look forward
  • Close the arms together, contracting the chest
  • Hold peak flexion, then let go to the initial position slowly

Note that when we are in a shredding period & getting lean, we are utilizing more isolated movements, more repetitions & less rest times.

This increased volume, done for less time, will grant enormous pumps.

Enormous pumps then, mean that nutrient-rich blood will be flowing to the muscles and that in turn equals muscle retention!

Conclusion

Often times when people are looking for the best chest workouts for men, they expect some magical, previously unknown of exercises.

Truth is, unified methodics & principles always work, which is why we used those to structure the workouts in this article.

Here are some keypoints & important takeaways:

  1. Beginners must focus on developing good fundamental levels of strength, preferably with bodyweight exercises.
  2. Once more advanced, a beginner can transition to a gym and utilize the basic, compound movements
  3. Furthermore, when training is periodized, the trainee must aim for heavy compound movements in the 6+ rep range, when the goal is gaining mass.
  4. Once it is summer time & the shredding period comes, intensity should be decreased slightly, repetitions should be increased, while the rest times are decreased & the focus goes more towards isolated exercises.

Now that you have this information, go ahead and demolish those pecs!

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