Curiosity about life in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
The Best Science Based Chest Workout
(Are You Maximising Your Chest Growth?)
The pectoral muscles AKA the chest muscles is one, if not one of the main muscle group for any guy who's looking to build muscle at the gym. To build an aesthetic pair of pecs, we have to focus on not only building muscle mass or also ensuring symmetry of the chest muscles to prevent muscle imbalances. In this post, we are going to share with you the best exercises to build a well-developed and symmetrical pair of pecs.
Understanding The Anatomy
Before we dive straight into the exercises, we must understand how our chest muscles created so that we can effectively target each part of the chest with each exercises emphasising on a certain part of the pec.

Upper Chest:
Muscle Fiber - Runs upward along the chest
Best Activated - Exercises where arms are moving upwards

Middle Chest:
Muscle Fiber - Runs horizontally along the chest
Best Activated - Exercises where arms are moving perpendicularly upwards from chest

Lower Chest:
Muscle Fiber - Runs downwards along the chest
Best Activated - Exercises where arms are moving downwards

Mind-Muscle Connection
It is important for you to form a strong mind-muscle connection with your chest. This is to prevent other secondary muscles like your triceps and biceps doing all the work for you in a chest exercise with minimal effort from the chest and reducing your chest muscle development.

Some helpful cues to "tell" your mind to focus on your chest is to pull your shoulders backwards and depress your traps (lower your shoulders) before starting any chest exercises.

And when you are performing the exercise, don't just think of forcefully pushing the weight up with your arms but rather think of bringing your biceps together during the every rep.
Exercise 1: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
It is highly recommended to start off with this upper chest exercise because the upper chest is often neglected in most people when it comes to hypertrophy (muscle growth) training.

Benefit 1: Allows greater range of motion for pecs - More hypertrophy. Range of motion is indeed a key factor when it comes to maximising muscle growth as proven in studies here and here.

Benefit 2: The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press has also been proven to be the best chest exercise at activating the upper chest by a study by Bret Contreras here

Benefit 3: Last but not least, using dumbbells would prevent muscle imbalance since each side of the chest is trained with an equal amount of weight using dumbbells

In terms of the angle of the incline bench, you should aim for between 30 degrees to 45 degrees to minimise the front delts being activated and maximising the upper chest activation. Try out a few sets for each angle to test your preference.
Exercise 2: Barbell (or Dumbbell) Bench Press
The Barbell Bench Press is undoubtedly a staple when it comes to building and activating your chest muscles.

The Barbell Bench Press focused on the middle chest and helps build overall chest thickness.

It has been shown in several studies (here and here) to be the best exercise at activating the chest and lift the most weight in.

Nevertheless due to the difference in anatomy and not everyone having the exact same anatomy, another viable option is the Dumbbell Bench Press which has been proven here to have similar chest activation has the Barbell Bench Press with less triceps activation which may be better if you find your triceps being activated too much during Barbell Bench Press.

Another benefit is the greater range of motion using dumbbells as compared to barbell which will limit the range of motion as you bring the barbell to your chest. As mentioned earlier, range of motion is proven to be a factor when it comes to maximising hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Exercise 3: Chest Dips
The Chest Dips is found to be the best exercise when it comes to activating your lower chest as shown in the study by Bret Contreras here, due to the shoulders being in a extended position.

One thing to note for chest dips is tuck in your elbows to prevent flaring out and to progressively add more weight to your dips in order to progress overload and ensure continuous lower chest development. Do remember to lean forward to target your chest more.

Exercise 4: High To Low Cable Crossovers
This last exercise is going to place more emphasis on the middle and lower chest and proven in a study here that it is as effective as the bench press at activating the chest.

Another great benefit of using cable crossovers is that you are able to cross your hands past each other at the bottom of the movement to allow greater horizontal abduction at the shoulders which will better activate the chest.

Full Workout List
1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 6 - 10

2. Barbell Or Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 6 - 10

3. Chest Dips
Sets: 3
Reps: 8 - 12

4. High To Low Cable Crossovers
Sets: 3
Reps: 12 - 15
All in all, the workout list given is only a rough guide and you should be starting off with the exercise that is your greatest weakness in order to prevent muscle imbalances such as a strong and developed upper chest and a weak and less developed lower chest.

If you're looking for a more detailed strategy to optimise your muscle growth with a step-by-step blueprint for your diet as well as a complete workout routine with exact exercises, reps and rest time for each of the workout splits mentioned earlier, be sure to check out our eBook The Gainz Manual + 30 Day Meal Plan which is essentially a fitness guide to educate everything you need to know about training and nutrition as well as a diet & training plan prepared for you to execute easily.

You can take a look at the table of contents of the eBook as well as the reviews by users of our eBook by clicking the link here
Other Blog Posts
Made on