Workouts to Build Chest Muscle

Developing a strong upper body requires building up and sculpting the chest muscles, which include the pectoralis major and minor muscles. These muscles can be trained with various pressing and pushing exercises as well as a few other types of movements that will increase strength and muscle size.

Barbell Bench Press

This exercise requires much stability to balance the barbell while building strength. Load the barbell with the desired amount of weight to achieve your set and rep goals. Choosing a weight where you fatigue between 8 to 12 repetitions may be ideal for helping you build muscle. Amount of volume through sets is also something to consider. Usually, volume is increased through number of sets to achieve hypertrophy training goals.

Lay flat on the bench with your hands gripping the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Inhale as you lower the barbell down slowly for at least a 2 to 3 second count. Exhale while you press the weight back to starting position. Repeat for your goal rep range.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Dumbbells will provide for an increased range of motion on this exercise and also require an additional amount of stability through the shoulder joints.

An incline of approximately 30 degrees is ideal for working the the chest muscles. The more the incline of the bench increases from that point, the more demand is placed on the shoulder muscles.

Lay flat on the bench and raise the dumbbells to starting position straight above the shoulders. Lower the weight down as you let your elbows bend to about 90 degrees to form a right angle. Press the weights back up to starting position, being sure to not lock your elbows. Repeat for goal rep range and sets. This may include a protocol of 3 sets or more of 8 to 12 reps to build muscle.

Cable Chest Flys

Using a cable machine or universal cable system, this exercise can typically be performed seated or standing.

Grab a cable handle with each hand and begin with palms facing each other. Keep elbows about shoulder height and level with your hands. Maintain just a small bend in the elbow throughout the entire exercise. Lower the weight back slowly as your elbows move back and you feel a stretch through the chest. Contract strongly through the chest muscles as you reach the handles back to the starting position. Imagining you are reaching around a big barrel in the front of your body will help you focus on keeping proper form.

About this Author

Tommy Mack is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and golden gloves and pro level boxer. Mack holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science and since 2006 has authored health and fitness articles for various publications including Exercise.com and “Michigan Sports and Fitness.”