Because my pecs have become something of a Davey Wavey trademark, it’s no surprise that I get a number of emails about chest workouts. More specifically, most guys write asking for tips to increase their chest size. It’s a common goal and the game plan necessary to make it happen is fairly straightforward.
Here are 10 tips for getting a bigger chest.
- Bench press. Tried and true, there is no better exercise for building up your chest than the bench press. You can do bench press exercises with either dumbbells or a barbell – and each have their own advantage. With dumbbells, you’re able to work through a great range of motion. But with a barbell, you’re able to press heavier amounts of weight. Since heavier loads will result in bigger gains, I recommend using the barbell – though it’s fine to use either or both.
- Low reps, heavy weight. Doing a lower number of repetitions at a heavy weight is best suited for increases in size. I usually target 8 repetitions. On the last repetition, your muscles should feel fatigued. If you can do more than 12 repetitions without feeling fatigued, then the weight is definitely too light.
- Do at least four sets. It’s true that you get a ton of benefits from performing only one set, but if you’re looking for maximized results, the additional sets are important. I do four sets on the bench press, then four sets each on the incline and decline bench press.
- Only train your chest once or twice per week. Since I train different muscle groups each day, I usually only work my chest once per week. Sometimes twice. I don’t train my chest often, but when I do, it’s a quality workout and that’s what matters.
- Increase the amount of resistance or number of repetitions. If you did 6 repetitions at 180 pounds last week, try for 7 repetitions at the same weight this week. Or if you did 8 repetitions of 150 pounds last week, go for 7 or 8 repetitions at 160 pounds this week. You need to overload your muscles to increase their size.
- Keep a log. Because the exact number of repetitions and amount of resistance can be difficult to remember, bring a notebook and log your progress. When you go in for your next workout, you’ll know exactly where you were last week – and exactly where you want to be this week.
- Try drop sets. Once a month, really mix things up by doing a drop set or two. To perform a drop set, select an amount of resistance that will result in muscle failure after 8 – 12 reps. While you’ve reached relative failure, you haven’t reached absolute failure; quickly decrease the amount of weight by about 15% and continue. After 8 or so reps, you’ll hit failure again. Reduce the resistance by another 15% and continue. Keep going. It’s a great way to build size.
- Don’t overtrain. More isn’t better and your muscles need time to rebuild and recover. Don’t train your chest more than twice a week.
- Eat right. Ensure that you’re eating enough calories and getting the required amount of protein to support muscle growth.
- Keep good form. While the occasional cheat is acceptable, the majority of your bench presses should demonstrate proper technique. Most people cheat by not lowering the bar fully to their chest before pressing it back up. Ensure that you’re getting a full range of motion.
Building a bigger chest isn’t rocket science – but it does take a little know-how and some real effort and dedication. And if you have any other chest-building tips, share them in the comments below.