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Chest Building Routines
And The Best Chest Exercises To Increase Bulk
Article care of

A large thick chest is generally one of the primary goals of any weight trainer or bodybuilder.  Visit any gym anywhere in the world and one of the most used, if not the most used pieces of equipment will be the Bench Press.  Why?  Because everyone wants a massive chest.  Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger and you get the picture!

But how do we achieve a massive chest?  What are the best chest workouts or chest building routines?  What are the best chest exercises to increase bulk?  These are the perennial questions asked by many gym junkies.  Well let me answer for you. 

To understand how to build a massive chest you must first understand what muscles comprise the chest and how to target them specifically.  I guarantee you there is no point going out and doing chest building routines comprising of 10 sets of barbell bench press every second day.  Aside from obviously overtraining, you are only targeting one area of the chest and therefore other areas will remain underdeveloped and you will end up having an abnormal looking chest. 

In building a strong, powerful chest we target a number of muscles: the Pectoralis Major (being the primary muscle), the Pectoralis Minor, and to a lesser degree the Serratus Anterior, the Intercostals and the Front Deltoids.

The primary and most visible muscle of the chest is the Pectoralis Major.  It is a thick muscle in a triangular fan shape across the entire chest area.  The Pectoralis Major is connected to the skeleton at three different points, the sternum, the clavicle (collar bone) and the shoulder (armpit).  

The Pectoralis Major itself is divided into two distinct sections, the Clavicular section which is the upper portion of the muscle connected to the Clavicle, and the Sternal which is the lower section of the muscle connected to the Sternum.  Whilst they are connected in two different areas, they still form part of the SAME muscle.  

There is a common misconception that the upper pec (Clavicular section) is the Pectoralis Major and the lower pec (Sternal section) is the Pectoralis Minor.  This is not the case. 

The Pectoralis Minor is a smaller triangular shaped muscle actually situated underneath the Pectoralis Major and is not generally visible.  However this muscle is trained in conjunction with the Pectoralis Major and when it grows it can help to push the Pectoralis Major out to give the appearance of a bigger chest. 

The Serratus Anterior are smaller muscles that cover the side of the chest wall and around the ribs.  These can sometimes be mistaken for Lats (back muscles).  Their primary role is to help pull the shoulder and back muscles forward.  Think of the pushing or punching movement and that is where they are functional.  The Intercostals are smaller muscles again which are positioned between the ribs and assist in pulling the ribs together. 

The Front Deltoid (Front of the Shoulder) whilst not a muscle of the chest is still utilised in many chest building routines and when toned correctly can help to provide greater definition to the upper chest. 

Now as stated above, the Pectoralis Major is the primary chest muscle and given its unique design, it has muscle fibres that run in several different directions.  You cannot train all these muscle fibres effectively using just one exercise.  You also need to train the other surrounding muscles.    By hitting the muscles from different angles you will achieve maximum growth in the shortest time possible.  So that is why you need to perform a number of different chest exercises to increase bulk, as part of your chest building routine. 

The best chest exercises to increase bulk, strength and mass are Compound exercises and those used primarily for shaping and toning are Isolation exercises. 

Compound exercises involve the use of more than one muscle group through different joints in order to perform the exercise movement.  Isolation exercises effectively isolate the working muscle and only involve movement though one joint.
Each have their place in chest building routines, it just depends on what you want to achieve. 

If you are someone looking at primarily building a super strong chest and increasing your bench press then you want to be targeting primarily compound exercises with heavy weights and low reps of 4 to 8.  This will also give you mass gains but you may suffer from a lack of definition. 

If you are looking at building a large well defined chest then you will want a mix of compound and isolation exercises using medium-heavy weights and a medium rep range of 8 to 12.  This will give you good muscle size and tone but your strength levels won’t be as high.  As I said, you just have to weigh up what you want to achieve. 

Compound chest exercises to increase bulk include the bench press (and variations of), pushups, and dips.  While Isolation exercises include flyes, pec dec, cable crossover and dumbbell pullover. 

There are other exercises out there but these are just some of the most common. 

When designing chest building routines, as I said previously, you need to attack the muscles from different angles with different exercises.  If you focus on hitting your Pectoralis Major from 3 different angles you will not only train all sections of the muscle fully but you will also train the surrounding complimentary muscles and achieve the fastest muscle growth and development. 

Here is one of my original chest building routines designed to attack the Pec muscles from 3 different angles using the incline bench press, the dumbbell bench press and the decline bench press.  I also provide toning using lateral flyes: 


Sets and target reps


Incline Bench Press

3- 12, 10, 8


Dumbbell Bench Press

3- 12, 10, 8


Lateral Flye

2- 12, 10


Decline Bench Press

2- 12, 10


As a note, the best chest exercises to increase bulk are compound exercises performed with Dumbbells.  This is because it allows each side of the body to work independently through the full range of movement.  However limits on the dumbbell weight range at your gym or home or old injury may mean you are unable to use dumbbells all the time.  That is when a barbell bench press should be used. 

The above chest building routine will provide you with a solid base on which to develop a thick powerful chest.  I would recommend you use a workout log to record your progress so you know what you have to beat each time you set foot in the gym.  Then when you exceed the target reps by one, i.e. you perform 13, 11, 9 it is time to increase the weights. 

Now Go Out There And Train For Gain! 

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