The main problem with almost every chest workout routine is that it only focuses on the middle portion of the chest with basic exercises like the barbell bench press and dumbbell fly.
An impressive chest has developed every section of the pectorals – most importantly the upper chest (pectoralis major).
Developing a chiseled upper chest will set you apart with your physique and will give people the illusion that your chest is bigger than it really is.
It will make you look awesome in V-neck’s, and also put your bench press numbers through the roof – a double win!
Another problem is that some people are under the impression that big chests are built with pec flys, machines, and high reps: not the case. In this article we will discuss what actually works.
Developing The Upper Chest for Maximum Aesthetics & Strength
Having a really well developed chest starts with your mindset to training. Most lifters simply think that they want a “big chest”, but to get a full chest you have to develop each section of your pectorals.
This is the difference between having an aesthetic physique and not.
If your lower chest is too big and you have a very undeveloped upper chest, it may give off the illusion that you have “man boobs” instead of chiseled pectoral muscles.
Developing both pec major and pec minor will have a dramatic effect on aesthetics & strength. Take a strategic approach to chest training for maximum development of all sections.
The Forgotten Chest Muscle
Your upper chest is actually a separate muscle called the “clavicular pectoralis.” The best chest workouts put just as much emphasis on this section of the chest as the middle to lower portions. This is what creates aesthetics!
The tricky part about having a well-developed chest is that it takes much longer to build the clavicular pectoralis.
In fact – if you don’t know what you’re doing you could spend 10 plus years in the gym and never develop the clavicular pectoralis.
So, do you want to have the ultimate aesthetic chest with the strength to back it up? Let’s first dive into the 3 rules of training that you MUST follow to achieve this.
Ultimate Chest Development Laws & Best Chest Exercise Selections
1 HEAVY PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
Since your pectorals are a large muscle group you need to train them with heavy resistance and progressive overload.
What this means is that you have to lift heavy in the 3-8-rep range for the majority of your chest exercises.
Despite what the guru’s and bodybuilding magazines say, this is how you build mass.
The best exercises include the dumbbell bench press, barbell bench press, dumbbell incline bench press, and the barbell incline bench press.
If you don’t put a heavy load on your pecs, you will not stimulate maximum hypertrophy and growth.
It’s no secret that you absolutely have to be bench pressing and performing the chest related compound movements close to your 1 rep max.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that you should make sure that 80 percent of your compound sets are done at 70-80+ percent of your 1 rep max.
So if your bench press max is 300 lbs (more on increasing your bench press here), you will want to make sure you are doing sets of 210-240 lbs at minimum.
“Repping out” and chasing the “pump” in the 15-20 rep range may feel good, but the pump is short lived, and it won’t translate into maximal muscle growth.
Save it for the end of your workout and focus most of your efforts on training heavy.
If you’ve spent years solely chasing the pump, you will experience a serious surge in gains by switching to this training methodology.
2 BIG BASIC LIFTS = AESTHETICS, STRENGTH, POWER.
The biggest mistake that many people make with their chest workouts is that they don’t focus on big, compound lifts.
How many of your chest days involve pec dec machines & 100’s of pec flyes?
Here’s the truth: these exercises are most effective at the end of your workout to add in some extra volume. They should never be the core focus of your chest day.
You will never build thick muscle and strength with the pec dec machine.
This is the problem with so many training routines, stick with the proven basic lifts that work.
If you want your chest to grow, stick with the big three: barbell & dumbbell bench press, barbell & dumbell incline press, heavy dips.
No machines, no pec decs, at least not until you’ve put in the work on the heavy presses.
Sorry guys, this is the key to full chest development. Here is why we skip out on decline bench presses.
3 FULL CHEST DEVELOPMENT
The most important rule to having a fully developed chest is that you must work the upper chest just as much as your lower chest.
Since your upper chest muscles are the most stubborn for growth they will need just as much attention.
Not to mention, if your bench press has been plateaued for a while, hitting your upper chest hard may be exactly what you need to break through it.
Most people focus 90-95% of their chest workout on the lower-mid pectoral muscle development without even knowing it. It should actually be closer to 50-50.
The best chest workouts will grow the upper and lower sections equally.
Chest Workout of Perfection Routine
1 Barbell Bench Press
Sets: 4, Reps: 5-8, Rest Time: 90-180 Seconds
2 Dumbbell Incline Press
Sets: 4, Reps: 8-12, Rest Time: 90 Seconds
3 Barbell Incline Bench Press
Sets: 4, Reps: 6-10, Rest Time: 90 Seconds
4 Weighted Dips (Chest Version)
Sets: 4, Reps: 8-12, Rest Time: 2 Minutes
5 Flat Dumbbell Press
Sets: 4, Reps: 10-12, Rest Time: 1 Minute
That’s it! No drop-sets, super-sets, tri-sets, pre-exhaustion sets, or anything like that. Just proven exercises that actually build muscle.
Sure, these training principles can be added in for increased intensity every so often, but they should never be a primary focus.
Don’t go to failure every set, leave 2-3 reps in the tank, save your max effort set for the last set of each exercise.
So for example if you can bench press 225 for 5 reps, do 205-210 for 4 sets of 5, then 225 for your last set of 5.