How to Get a Big Chest
7 Steps to Building a Big Muscular Chest
Most people into weightlifting, especially when starting out, want a BIG chest. After all, there’s research indicating having a bigger chest aids in attracting sexual partners.
After all, some guys actually get pectoral implants. Implants aren’t for me. I’d rather build my big chest the old fashioned way … “push iron”.
It’s really interesting to note the variety of muscular chest development among bodybuilders.
Some chests are flatter and broad, some are deep, some have amazing lower chest development with an undercut and some have large, expansive and deep barrel chests (with not a ton of definition).
Yes, your build and the way you pectorals develop plays a role to be sure. However, there are tips for working out that can improve your weaker chest areas.
How to Get a Big Chest Table of Contents
- Develop Two Commonly Underdeveloped Chest (Pectoral) Areas
- Use Progressive Loading
- Hit all Parts of Your Chest (or focus on underdeveloped parts)
- Include Different Movements, Positioning & Grips (presses, pullovers, dips and crossover movements)
- Chest Blasts
- Rep Volume for a Big Chest
- 22 Chest Exercises (and the part they target) – mix up exercises over time
STEP 1. Two Common Underdeveloped Chest Areas – And What You Can do About It
A. Inner chest; and
B. Upper chest.
Admittedly, these two areas are harder to develop. By this I mean that they don’t develop as naturally from doing the usual chest workout compound exercises such as barbell bench press and dumbbell bench press.
However, you can slightly tweak the way you do flat bench press and flat DB press to target your inner chest.
A. Inner Chest: How to target your inner chest for a deeper, bigger, more defined chest
1. The Barbell Hand Squeeze
The best technique I’ve done is with barbell presses squeeze your hands together. Let me clarify. I don’t mean fold your hands together. Place your hands on the barbell as you usually would, but contract your chest muscles so you’re squeezing your hands together. This is an isometric exercise while lifting weights (it’s really good).
What this does is it contracts your inner pectoral muscles and activates them as part of the lift. This way you work out your inner chest muscles and foster inner chest development.
2. Pronating Dumbbell Presses
Another method for developing inner chest is supinating dumbbell presses.
At the starting point, where dumbbells are lowered, hold them in a hammer grip. The dumbbells will be parallel to your torso.
As you push the weight up, twist the dumbbells in a pronating motion (inward motion) so that at the top of the lift, the dumbbells are lined up as if they were a barbell (traditional dumbbell lift).
What this motion does trigger the inner chest muscles via the pronating twisting motion during the lift.
3. Flyes and Crossovers
I do flyes and cable crossovers. I prefer cable because the tension remains more consistent through the motion, but flyes have their advantages as well (stabilizing effort).
Flyes and crossovers, when you focus on contracting the inner chest muscle, will target your inner chest and foster inner chest growth.
B. Upper Chest
Upper chest is ignored quite a bit and I’m not sure why.
As far as I’m concerned, most people who lack chest development, do so to their upper chest. I know my upper chest has historically been one of my least-developed pectoral areas.
The fact is a more developed upper chest gives your chest depth and appears much bigger. If you want your chest to show through t-shirts or simply want more depth to your chest, spend some time working out your upper chest.
Flat presses work your upper chest somewhat, but incline presses are better. Incline presses really aren’t revealing anything new. The point is that if you lack upper chest development, you might want to tweak your chest workouts so that there is more emphasis on upper chest.
For example, instead of starting off with bench press, start your chest workout with incline barbell press. This way you attack your upper chest at the point in your workout when you have the most energy.
What degree of incline is best?
I like about 45 degree incline. This is not very steep. I avoid going too steep to that I focus on my chest muscles and less on my shoulders.
Isometric Inner Chest Exercise
You can certainly include isometric exercises targeting your inner chest. Any time you hold a weight or DB at chest height, while standing, with arms extended straight out, you’ll be contracting your inner chest muscles a great deal. It’s a great way to end a chest workout for extra “inner-chest” targeting.
STEP 2. Progressively Load Your Chest Workouts for a Big Chest
I hope this isn’t anything new. It’s a universal bodybuilding principle. But, if you’re new to weightlifting, you may not have heard about progressive loading (or overloading). It’s a fancy term for increasing load to your workouts in the long term.
The two fundamental methods of increasing load are:
- Increase the weight you lift; and/or
- Increase the number of reps in your set.
If you lift the same weight week-in and week-out, you won’t make any real gains. Therefore, track the weight you use and reps achieved. Increase your weight once you hit or exceed your target rep volume.
STEP 3. Hit all Parts of Your Chest
Your chest (pectoral) muscles are large. There’s more than one part. There are 2 muscles (pectoral major and minor).
The parts of your chest are:
- Outer (near shoulders)
The ideal chest, is broad, has depth and lower chest development (i.e. an undercut).
You don’t need to include exercises in every chest workout that target all areas of the chest. However, over the course of several workout cycles, you do want to target all areas of the chest.
For example, at the time I published this article, I do no lower chest exercises. I’m focusing on my upper chest … meaning 2 of the 4 chest exercises I do are incline positions (incline DB presses and incline flyes).
STEP 4. Include Different Movements & Grips
There are several ways to vary your pec workouts in addition to doing different exercises.
There are 4 main movements:
- Pullovers (pulling motion targeting the chest and back)
- Dip motion
Your body positioning during a lift dictates to a large degree which part of your chest you’re working out.
You can vary your grip with barbell presses such as:
- Normal width (shoulder-width)
- Narrow (targets more of the triceps)
- Regular (palms facing your feet)
Generally, you’ll want to use a normal grip width because that hits the bulk of your chest. A wide-grip hits your outer chest a bit, but it’s an awkward lift and you won’t lift nearly as much weight.
I love incorporating narrow-grip (close-grip) presses in my tricep workout because it does work out my chest a little.
Over the course of several workout cycles, you want to include all the main movements and positioning. Most workouts can easily include 2 movements and 2 different position. Consider the following example chest workout:
- Incline barbell press
- Flat cable crossover
Those 3 exercises cover upper, middle and lower chest as well as the inner chest (if the crossovers are executed with a focus on the inner chest area).
However, those 3 exercises do not cover all movements. It’s hard (and not necessary) to design a pec workout that targets all areas of the chest and includes all movements. Instead, when changing your workout, include exercises that include movements and target your chest area that were not included in your previous workout.
Other ways to vary your chest workouts:
- Drop sets
- Negative sets
- Explosive Reps
- Supersets (same muscle or different muscles)
STEP 5. Chest Blasts
Chest blasts are second chest workouts you can include in a 4, 5 or 6 day split. They should have fewer sets, but still be a stand-alone workout.
By working out your chest twice in one week, you’ll grow it faster. This can be demanding and you may skip the blast workout perhaps every second or third week. However, I love including blasts in my workouts, especially targeting under-developed muscles.
STEP 6. Rep Volume for a Big Chest
If you’re looking to add serious mass, stick with 10 to 12 reps.
If you’re looking to increase your chest strength, do sets of 2 to 6 reps.
Even if you routinely do higher reps (10 to 15), once in a while it’s a good idea to include a low rep cycle to increase strength.
STEP 7. Chest Exercises – Mix Up Your Exercises Over Time
Obviously you need to work out your chest with pec exercises if you’re going to get a big chest. The following is a good list of chest exercises organized by movement.
- Flat BB bench press
- Incline BB press
- Decline BB press
- Flat DB press
- Incline DB press
- Decline DB press
- Flat Smith Machine Press
- Incline Smith Machine Press
- Decline Smith Machine Press
- Hammer Strength equipment (I love Hammer Strength Presses … but not all gyms have it).
- Pushups (feet on floor and elevated)
- Flat DB flyes
- Incline DB flyes
- Decline DB flyes
- Flat cable crossovers
- Incline cable crossovers
- Decline cable crossovers
- Pec Deck
- DB pullover
- BB pullover
- Around-the-Worlds with DBs
Dips: that’s about it … dips … similar to decline press except your hand positioning is in hammer position instead of palm out. Also, there are machine dips and regular dips.
That covers my article on how to get a big chest. It’s not rocket science. Oh yeah, don’t forget to eat right.
For more information checkout Natural Size Muscle Building.