Chest Building 101

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Dumbbell Chest

Anatomy of the Chest

Let’s start off by explaining the anatomy of the chest. It’s not very complicated and not much to it. Once you understand how the chest works, you will find it easier to visualize your chest workouts.

The chest is made up of two muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.

The pecs are found attached to the humerus of the arm, right near where the shoulder joint is. They then run across the front of the body and originate on the breastbone (picture a chicken breast). The pectoralis major is attached to the front of the body on the rib cage. The pectoralis minor is found underneath the pectoralis major. It originates on the ribs and attaches up to the scapula, specifically at the coracoid process

The pectoralis major brings the humerus across the body while the pectoralis minor moves the shoulders forward. Together, you get the bench press movement.

Like I said before, once you understand how everything works it makes it much easier to visualize the muscle fibers contracting during each set. When you have a good mind-muscle connection you get more out of each rep. Too many people try to load on a weight that they can’t handle and end up using more accessory muscles rather than the chest alone. That’s fine if you are trying to impress chicks, but in terms of results it’s not efficient.
Cable Crossovers

Different Parts of the Chest

When hitting the chest you have 3 different areas that you want to hit hard with compound movements. You have the upper chest, mid chest, and lower chest.
The Upper Chest
The upper chest is something that some gym rats forget about. The best exercise for hitting the upper chest is incline barbell presses. For this you want to have the bench on an incline where you can specifically feel it working your upper chest. Different people feel the exercise at different angles (45 degrees works for most people)—but the best thing to do is try different angles to see what works for you. If you feel the exercise more towards the middle of your chest then you have the angle too low and it will feel more like a flat bench press. On the flip side, if you feel the exercise more in your shoulders, then you have the angle too high and you need to decrease the angle.
The Mid Chest
The mid chest is hit with the famous exercise—the bench press. Everyone does it in the gym (unless you are injured, have a disability, or simply have no idea what you are doing in the gym). Too many people are in the gym trying to impress everyone with how much they can bench, yet more than half of them are doing the exercise incorrectly in which they can cause serious injury to themselves. The famous saying, “What do you bench?” is said around the gym more than any other saying—I cringe at the sound of it. Not because I don’t care what they bench, but because I know that person is one of the many that I mentioned above that are probably executing the exercise incorrectly. So let me say it once and get it over with… It’s not how much weight you can lift, leave your ego at the door—concentrate on feeling the weight and using the correct form. Another exercise that involves no weights that hits the mid-chest is the pushup. These are great for if you can’t get to the gym or you want to pump up a little bit.
The Lower Chest
The lower chest I believe is the most neglected portion of the chest. When you look at the best chests in bodybuilding you notice from top to bottom the chest is fully developed and full. If someone neglects the lower portion of their chest you will notice fullness in the upper half but below mid-chest they will be flat and without the roundness at the bottom portion. Doing decline presses as well as dips can develop the lower chest.

Different Chest Exercises

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Decline Barbell Bench Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Flyes
  • Decline Bench Dumbbell Flyes
  • Flat Dumbbell Press on the Stability Ball
  • Flat Dumbbell Fly on the Stability Ball
  • Flat Cable Machine Fly on the Stability Ball
  • Smith Machine Flat Bench Press
  • Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
  • Smith Machine Decline Bench Press
  • Machine Fly
  • Pec Deck
  • Cable Machine Flat Bench Fly
  • Cable Machine Incline Bench Fly
  • Cable Machine Decline Bench Fly
  • Bodyweight Pushups (different hand positions available)
  • Weighted Pushups (different hand positions available)
  • Bodyweight Incline Pushups on the Stability Ball (different hand positions available)
  • Bodyweight Dips
  • Assisted Dips
  • Weighted Dips
  • Pullovers

Chest Workout

Mass Building Chest Workouts

Here you will find numerous workouts that you can try in the gym. Give them a shot and see which works best for you. Remember, not all exercises or workouts will work for everyone, each person’s muscles respond differently to the stimulation of a workout; therefore, you will need to play with different exercises and different rep ranges.

Workout #1

Incline Barbell Bench Press 3×8-12
Flat Barbell Bench Press 3×8-12
Decline Barbell Bench Press 3×8-12
Incline Bench Dumbbell Fly 3×15
Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly 3×15

Workout #2

Incline Dumbbell Press 3×8-12
Flat Dumbbell Press 3×8-12
Decline Dumbbell Press 3×8-12
Incline Cable Fly 3×15
Flat Cable Fly 3×15

Workout #3

Incline Dumbbell Press 3×8-12
Flat Barbell Bench Press 3×8-12
Dips 3×8-12
Incline Dumbbell Fly 3×15
Machine Fly 3×15

Workout #4 – Bodyweight Workout

Bodyweight Incline Pushup on Stability Ball 5×8-12
Bodyweight Pushup 5×8-12
Bodyweight Dips 5×8-12

Workout #5 – Smith Machine Workout

Smith Machine Incline Bench Press 5×8-12
Smith Machine Flat Bench Press 5×8-12
Smith Machine Decline Bench Press 5×8-12
Chest Pose

Conclusion

When it comes down to it you want to focus on the mind-muscle connection. You should really feel each rep and feel the muscle working. If you don’t feel an exercise in your chest, then you are probably doing it wrong or are using a weight that you can’t handle and are using more than just your chest.

Most of all have fun with your workouts. If you aren’t having fun, then what’s the point? Utilize what you learned in this course and see where it takes you. Good luck and see you at graduation!

Photography By:

Pink Elephant Photography
Jimmy Murtaugh