Getting a bigger, more fully developed chest isn’t just about lifting weights or lifting more weights. To truly bulk up your chest, you need to construct a specific workout plan that has you in the gym on a strict schedule. There are a wide range of exercises to choose from, but you’ll need to follow one of several set structures for each exercise to optimize mass gain. You’ll also need to eat a diet that is rich in protein.
Your chest is comprised of one major muscle group: the pectorals. This muscle group is comprised of several muscles that work in conjunction to facilitate multiple planes of motion in your upper body. The process of building up the chest is the same as it is for any muscle group: Use compound exercises that thoroughly engage all muscles in the target group, use progressively heavier weight over time, lift near your maximum weight capacity, and give that muscle group enough time to recover following each workout.
Chest to Impress
Numerous exercises will help you develop a bigger chest. Your routine should begin with the flat bench press. Tudor Bompa, author of "Serious Strength Training," recommends using a half-pyramid or a full-pyramid set system. Begin with a heavy yet manageable weight for eight reps. Add 5 or 10 pounds, do six reps, then continue adding weight and reducing reps until you get to two. For a full-pyramid set, work your way back to eight by reversing the pattern. In addition to the flat bench press, perform sets of incline and decline bench presses, chest flyes and dumbbell chest presses. Finish off each chest workout with a couple of sets of 20 chest dips.
Determining how often to work out your chest is crucial to successfully building lean muscle mass in your pectorals. Generally, this schedule will depend on when and how you work out other muscle groups in your body. You don’t want to focus just on the chest. You won’t achieve the gains you want if you don’t also target the other muscle groups in the upper body. If you do a total-body workout for each training session, work out your chest three times each week. If you split up your routine, Bill Pearl, author of "Getting Stronger," recommends focusing two training sessions on your chest, and using multiple exercises to target each segment of the pectorals.
Building bulk takes time and discipline. It won’t happen overnight or in a matter of a few weeks. Stick to your workout schedule, increase the weights in your exercises as you acclimate to them, and change up the order of your exercises every four to six weeks. For example, for four weeks, begin with bench presses, then chest flyes, decline presses, dumbbell chest presses, incline bench presses and dips. After four weeks, begin with dumbbell chest presses, then do incline bench presses, chest flyes, flat bench presses, decline bench presses and close with dips. Keep your body guessing to consistently maximize muscle gains.