Posted on May 18, 2018 by Josh Puttock

The chest workout – for many it’s a day to look forward to, for others it can be the opposite. Especially when you feel you maybe aren’t getting the results you desire.

This article will go over the basics of a chest workout, whether your goal is to beef up, improve endurance or get over a much-hated plateau in training and results.

Just remember that the chest works better when the synergist muscles are also making gains in strength and endurance. So, the triceps, biceps and back muscles should not be neglected!

For hypertrophy

Incline barbell chest press

  • 4 sets of 8 Reps 75-80% 1RM

Decline dumbbell bench press

  • 4 sets of 6-8 Reps 75-80% 1RM

Flat bench dumbbell press

  • 3 Sets of 8-10 reps 75-80% 1RM

Chest dip

  • 3 Sets of 8-10 Reps (60% 1RM if performing with additional weight)

Dumbbell fly

  • 3 Sets of 10-12 reps

As you might see, dumbbell exercises are seen as very important here. They have a reputation for getting results when looking for mass gains in the chest area, after all. Try and keep rest times around 2-3 minutes between sets.

For endurance

Cable standing fly

  • 3 sets of 12-15 60-75% 1RM

Alternating chest press (lever loaded machine)

  • 3 Sets of 12-15 60-75% 1RM

Flat bench dumbbell press

  • 4 Sets of 10-12 60-75% 1RM

Chest dips

  • 3 sets to failure

Standard push up

  • 4 sets to failure

These sets will push, as they should if you are seeking to increase the efficiency of the muscles in your chest area. Be aware, if you haven’t done endurance-based chest workouts before (most haven’t) then ease yourself into this over a few sessions. Keep the rest times between 45 seconds to 2 minutes.

For strength

Flat barbell bench press

  • 3 sets of 5-6 80-85% of 1RM
  • 1 set to failure (choose one at 85% of 1RM)

Incline bench press

  • 3 Sets of 5-6 80-85% of 1RM
  • 1 set to failure (Choose one at 85% of 1RM)

Chest dip

  • 3 sets of 5-6 80-85% of 1RM
  • 1 to failure (Choose one at 85% of 1RM)

Incline dumbbell fly

  • 3 sets of 8-10 (75-80% of 1RM)

For strength training it will be less reps and less sets but you will be training within 80-85% of your 1RM. This means the rest times can be anywhere between 2-5 minutes between sets, especially before the last extra set.

Speaking of the last set, choose one exercise from the three to do each session until failure. This is to ensure that you aren’t just getting efficient at pushing a certain weight, but you are going that extra set to push yourself for PB’s and try to avoid the dreaded strength plateau.

Remember these are just chest workouts that will guarantee one thing, and that is to work your chest muscles depending on your broad fitness goals. But as said before, your chest gets the best results when working in tandem with its synergist muscles (triceps, biceps, deltoids and lats) which should not be neglected.

Additionally, exercises like the face pull and also rear delt fly should be incorporated into your routine at some point to help structural balance, injury prevention and correct postural issues. Furthermore, we should all recognise that a strong chest needs a strong back to accompany it!

By David Gordon, Gym and Spa Operative