A stronger chest helps you carry out intense physical tasks in your everyday life, and if you follow the right workout, you can get a well-shaped chest that enhances your physical appearance.
How long does it take to shape the chest?
While there is no set time frame given that every individual has their own pace, however, it takes almost 10 to 12 weeks to shape the chest. Since the chest is one of the bigger muscle groups, you must focus on chest days twice a week, and give at least 48 hours for the chest muscles to recover.
Ideally, you should be able to see changes after 8 weeks of steady determination and implementing the proper chest workouts. You should notice significant changes from the 10-week mark.
It is not just exercise or diet alone that will help your chest grow, but a measured combination of those elements. Take a look at what you can and should not do to ensure a shapely chest.
6 best chest workouts to focus on
The chest is made up of three muscles - Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, and Serratus Anterior. The Serratus Anterior usually gets worked on during shoulder days. Here, we focus on the best chest workouts that will help the chest muscles grow.
1) Push up (with variations)
Push-ups are the first chest exercise to begin with. One of the reasons for this is that it directly works the chest muscles without the requirement of any equipment. Additionally, it’s a good way to warm-up the muscles before moving on to more complex exercises.
There are three types of basic push-ups on the best chest workouts list that can be done:
- Incline push up
- Decline push up
- Normal push up
There are other types of push ups such as explosive push ups, in and out push ups, and others. However, these are advanced movements. It is important to perfect the basic movements before moving on to the advanced ones.
2) Flat bench press: Dumbbell or barbell
An important compound exercise for chest workouts is the flat bench press. You can use dumbbells or barbells for this movement. It works on the Pectoralis Major, a chest muscle which extends up to the upper part of the chest.
Since it’s a compound movement, it also works on the anterior and lateral deltoids (shoulders) and the triceps. You can add both dumbbell bench press and barbell bench press to your routine on alternative chest days.
3) Incline bench press
The Pectoralis Major is made up of two parts - a clavicular and a sternocostal head. These are the upper and lower pecs. The incline bench press focuses on the upper pecs and can be done using a dumbbell or a barbell.
4) Decline bench press
If you work on the upper pecs, it is important to work on the lower pecs as well. The decline bench press focuses on the lower pecs. You should add incline and decline bench press to your workout routine to ensure your entire Pectoralis Major is being worked on.
5) Cable flyes/cable crossover
This is one of the best chest workouts to open up your chest and activate the muscles. Essentially, this exercise focuses on the Sternal Head of the Pectoralis Major and is found at the bottom of the chest muscles. Additionally, it works on the Pectoralis Minor as well. Moreover, this exercise works on the shoulders, triceps, and back as well.
6) Chest dips
This is one of the best chest workouts which you can do with or without weights. Preferably, you should begin without a weight and then start adding more weight gradually as you grow stronger. Chest dips work on your Pectoralis Minor, Pectoralis Major, and even on your shoulders and triceps. This is an exercise that can be used as a warm-up or as a burnout exercise.
Tips that will enhance your chest wokouts
Knowing the best chest workouts is step 1. The next step is to know a few tips that will assist you during chest days.
1) Do partial presses during reps
You can start by doing full presses or flyes, but end the set with a few partial reps. The reason being that you never take the pressure off the chest muscle when you do partial reps. Otherwise, the weight shifts from the chest to either shoulders or triceps once you are done with the rep. You can finish the set by doing partial reps with a lighter weight for the ultimate burn.
2) Do supersets
Supersets are two exercises done back-to-back with minimum to no rest between them. Supersets help in adding more pressure to the muscles from two different exercises and help the chest muscles grow.
An example of a superset for chest days is the Dumbbell bench press coupled with dumbbell flyes. In fact, the press-flye combination is a popular choice for supersets.
3) Dips or push ups until failure
Working the chest muscles till failure means pushing yourself to the point where another rep is impossible. This forces the muscles to grow back thicker and stronger to be able to take on that extra rep next time. However, exercising until failure is often done at the end of a workout. You do not want to tire your muscles too much before compound movements or exercises that require you to lift heavy.
Things to keep in mind when trying to grow the chest muscles
You cannot grow muscles if you only focus on the exercises you're doing. Here are a few things you must remember to ensure you are working towards a well-shaped chest:
- Always warm-up
- Lift heavy when you can
- Focus on the negatives (when the weight goes back to the neutral position)
- Have a muscle-mind connection
- Take ample rest between sets and between two chest days.