To achieve optimum muscle mass gains from your chest training, you need a good chest workout routine; but you need to execute the routine in an effective way, by implementing correct technique while maintaining intensity.
Training With Focus And Intensity
Concentration is key when you’re in the gym.
If you’re serious about getting results from your training sessions – get into the habit of focusing your mind on what you are doing. This will make a big difference to the quality of your workouts.
- what exercises you plan to do
- the order in which you will do them
- how much recovery time you will take between sets
- when to take in water to rehydrate your body
- when to eat your protein bar, banana, etc. for that energy boost. Get distracted and you may experience fatigue and lethargy during your workout – because you forgot to eat or drink fluids at the right time.
Have you pre-prepared the equipment you will use before starting a set?
Imagine you’re going to do a superset: a set of flat bench cable flyes followed immediately by a set of incline barbell presses. Have you got the barbell pre-loaded with the required weight, and the bench set at the correct angle, so you can jump right on it as soon as you’ve finished the first set?
When training your chest, always try to maintain a high intensity during the main working sets. Train with a weight that is challenging, and don’t spend too long resting between sets. You want to keep the chest pumped and engaged.
If you allow your chest muscles to rest and cool down for several minutes between sets – you’re not working them at a high intensity and you will also have lost the “pump” in your pecs.
Don’t count the Reps
During a set, focus your mind on each and every rep, but you don’t have to count them.
Instead, make a mental connection with your chest muscles – how they are feeling/responding to the stress put on them on each rep you perform.
- Instead of focusing on the exact number of reps you intend to do per set, think more generally in terms of low reps, medium reps or high reps.
- By counting the number of reps, you can lose focus. Concentrate on engaging your chest muscles to complete the exercise, minimizing the use of your arm muscles, and always with proper controlled form.
Chest Workout Routine For Men
A good chest workout routine that will build mass on your pecs will include the following:
- Chest warm-up exercises
- At least one isolation exercise
- At least one multi-joint pressing exercise using free weights
- A “chest-pump” exercise to complete the workout routine
Before the ‘main event’, begin with some warm-up exercises. You need to get the blood flowing in the chest muscles, and activating your muscle fibers so they will be ready to do the serious work later on.
Remember, don’t spend too much time on this part of your chest work-out.
- 2-3 sets of push ups – change the position of the hands from shoulder-width apart to a narrow position as to hit the outer and inner pecs.
- Variation: While lying in the push-up start position, raise one leg up in the air behind you, keeping it straight and then start your push-ups. Do 4-6 reps, lower your leg and repeat with your other leg raised.
Flat Bench Cable Flys
If you have access to a cable/pulley station then place a flat bench in the centre of the station, bringing the pulleys with their handles down to floor level and select a relatively light weight on both weight stacks.
- Starting Position: Lie down on the bench, face up, grab both cable handles and bring the handles together directly above the middle of your chest.
- Keeping your elbows bent at around a ninety degree angle, let your arms come down until your elbows lie in the same plane as your chest; feel the stretch in your pecs, and in a controlled manner, bring your hands back up together to the starting position again. Your arms will move in an arc-like motion for the duration of each rep.
- Do a couple of sets with a high number of reps, until you feel a slight burn in the pecs.
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flys
- An alternative to flat bench cable flyes, execute these with exactly the same technique but using light dumbbells. Perform a couple of sets with a high number of reps.
You should feel that you have “engaged” your chest. Now that your pectoral muscles are warmed up and have good blood flow in them, you are ready to begin the main working sets.
2. MAIN WORKOUT
#Isolation Exercise: Flat-Bench Cable Flys or Dumbbell flys
What is a chest isolation exercise?
It’s when the chest muscles work in isolation – without recruiting the triceps or shoulder muscle groups. You’ve already done these in the warm-up, but also include then in the main part of your routine.
- Use a heavier weight than in the warm-up and keep the reps low to medium. Quality is key here, not quantity.
- Allow a deep stretch when the weight is lowered and keep your hands loose.
- The pecs must do the work – not the arms via the hands – so pay attention to how your pecs are engaging.
When you do these, focus more on moving your elbows towards each other rather than the hands.
Think about it … your elbows are nearer to the chest muscles than your hands are.
So use this technique with a nice slow controlled movement. When your hands do come together, squeeze your pecs hard – you will really feel them burn!
Your goal is to increase the size of your pecs by gaining lean muscle, so you need to incorporate techniques that will stimulate the muscle beyond what it is accustomed to.
The best chest workout routine for mass would have to be one that includes “supersets”.
A superset is when you perform one set of an exercise and immediately follow it with another set of a different exercise that targets the same muscle group.
Compared to a single set exercises, supersets will stress your pectorals much more. Also extra muscle fibers will be recruited during the execution of the second set.
Over a period of training your chest will gain muscle mass.
Use an isolation exercise to pre-exhaust the pectoral muscles before you perform a pressing exercise like dumbbell press or bench press. This will really bring some intensity to your chest workout as your pecs will already be fatigued before you start with your pressing movements.
PRESSING EXERCISE USING FREE WEIGHTS
The best chest workout plan will always include pressing movements using free weights i.e. dumbbells and/or barbells. These form the main part of your chest workout routine for mass gains.
Incline Dumbbell Presses
These are one of the best exercises for upper chest:
- Sit on an incline bench with an angle of no more than 50 degrees – any higher and too much emphasis will be placed on the deltoids. Keep your elbows bent and grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip.
- From this starting position – extend the arms vertically, bringing the dumbbells together, but keep a very slight bend in your elbows.
- Squeeze your pecs at the top position but don’t keep the dumbbells together for too long – this keeps the tension on the pecs. Keeping the dumbbells moving at a controlled pace, prevents your pecs from resting during the set.
- Keep your chest pushed out and your shoulders back, you may even allow your lower back to arch slightly to achieve this position. If you’re concerned about your lower back, then keep it flush against the bench until you improve your lower back strength.
- To build mass, keep the reps low and use a heavy weight. Perform 3-4 sets resting for a couple of minutes between each set.
Flat Bench Press
You need to push yourself with these, but focus on quality reps.
Try to avoid ‘ego bench-pressing’ – where you pile on the weight because it looks good to other gym users. So go ahead and put some challenging weight on the barbell, but not so much that your form suffers.
- Lie face up on the bench, with your feet flat on the floor. Grab the barbell with your hands at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- To minimize the contribution of the shoulder muscles during bench-pressing – grab the bar and lift your upper body off the bench, retract your shoulder-blades and keep them there while you lower yourself down onto the bench.
- Now you are in perfect position to start your set, with your shoulder-blades pulled in, your chest muscles will now do the majority of the work.
- Slowly lower the bar to the chest while inhaling and then extend the arms at the end of the rep, exhaling as you go. Keep the elbows slightly bent as to keep the tension your pecs. Repeat.
To BUILD MASS:
- Low reps, heavy weight, but with good controlled form. You can vary the width of the hands to work different parts of the chest muscle.
- Close-grip will work the inner pecs more whereas a wider grip will focus more the outer pecs. Mix it up to achieve a full chest workout.
3. FINISH WITH A CHEST-PUMP
Finish your routine with exercises such as pec-deck flyes and cable crossovers.
These will really contract your pectorals and stretch the connective tissue known as fascia that surrounds muscles in the body. Pumping the muscles will increase blood flow to them, as well as increasing the flow of nutrients.
Pec Deck Flys
- Sit at the pec deck machine; make sure your wrists and forearms are relaxed. Inhale and bring the elbows together.
- Aim for a really good squeeze at the end of each rep, holding the position for 1-2 seconds.
- Slowly let your arms move outwards again until you feel a deep stretch in the pecs.
- Perform several reps, with light to medium weight.
Cable Crossover Flys
- Stand in the middle of the cable/pulley machine; grab the handles and step forward with your torso while leaning forwards, elbows bent, and your chest in a stretched position.
- Squeeze the arms together – focusing on bringing your elbows together rather than your wrists. This technique will put more tension on your pecs. Keep your hands as loose as you can.
- Aim to do several reps as to pump the muscles really good.
- If you vary the height at which the hands come together, you will work the chest at different angles, and bring all the fibers of the pectoralis major into play.
- A variation of this is to allow the wrists to cross over each other instead of bringing them together.