beginners chest workouts

by Jason Stallworth

November 23, 2019

If you’re new to bodybuilding or just started lifting weights, there’s no doubt that you want to build a big chest. It’s that one muscle that stands out among the rest!

In this post, I’m going to give you 3 mass building beginner’s chest workouts. But that’s only the beginning.

You’re also going to learn…

  • The biggest mistake beginner’s make with chest
  • The best sequence of chest exercises for mass gains
  • Big bench press VS big chest (how you can achieve both!)
  • Tips on making these workouts effective

Are you ready to build a massive chest?

Building Your Chest from All Angles

incline dumbbell flyes for defining and shaping your chest

The biggest mistake beginners make it assuming that doing heavy bench press is all they need to build a big chest. Bench press will indeed help you get stronger. but to build muscle mass, it takes a deeper approach.

So before we dive into your workouts, it’s good to let’s talk about the basic parts of your chest muscles. And once you understand this, it will be easier for you to see how the exercises you’ll be doing target the different areas of your chest.

The main muscle in your chest is called the pectoralis major. In simple terms, this is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Upper chest
  2. Middle chest
  3. Lower chest

To truly build a bodybuilder shaped chest, you need to work this muscle from a variety of angles and using different exercises. And I’m going to show you exactly how to do that in the 3 workouts below.

Remember, your goal isn’t to just build a big chest. It’s to build a big and symmetrical chest.

After you finish this article, read this next to learn more about building mass and definition in your chest: How to Define and Shape Your Chest: Hitting Chest from All Angles Workout.
*a new tab will open so you don’t lose this page!

Exercise Order for Mass Gains

bench press 315

Before we get into the workout, I want you to understand 3 simple rules regarding the sequence of exercises for mass gains.

If you don’t follow these 3 rules, you’re prone to limiting your gains. So…folow them!

  1. Start your workout with a compound exercise first
  2. Go heavy with lower reps on that first exercise
  3. For every exercise after, start increasing the reps (you’ll see how this is done in the workouts below)

This is the #1 formula for beginners who want to get jacked and huge, fast (I say ‘fast’ loosely…be patient and consistent as making gains takes time).

The main compound exercises for chest are:

  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press

You could argue that dumbbell presses belong in this category. But dumbbells require more balance and you can’t lift as much weight (collectively) with dumbbells as you can with the barbell.

All other exercises fall into the category of isolation exercises for chest. These are movements like…

  • Dumbbell flyes
  • Cable flyes (crossovers)
  • Dumbbell pullovers

Now let’s get to your chest workouts…

Chest Workouts for Mass

You’re going to be sticking with basic chest exercises. This is not only perfect for beginners, but it’s also great for anyone who wants to build a big chest.

The only thing you will do differently as you become more seasoned is you can add another exercise or two to the workouts. For now, your training volume will be moderate.

Here are a few things you’ll want to do prior to your chest workout:

  • Prime your chest muscles with 2-3 sets of pushups. But do not burn out or go to failure on these. Just do enough to get your blood flowing (you could actually do this from home before you even get to the gym).
  • Make sure you eat a meal that consists of 20-30 grams of protein and 20-30 grams of complex, slow-digesting carbs (like oatmeal); this will give you sustainable energy during your workout.
  • Make sure you’re mentally focused. Watch or listen to something motivational before your workout or on your way to the gym.
    *I give you more tips on this at the end of this post.

Chest Workout 1: Basic Mass Gains

This is the most basic yet extremely effective chest workout for beginners. You’re only doing 3 simple chest exercises. And all of these exercises will help you build the most mass.

ExerciseSets x Reps
Bench Press3 x 6
Incline Bench Press3 x 8
Dumbbell Flyes3 x 10

I wrote an entire program for beginner’s bodybuilding so make sure you read that next: Bodybuilding for Beginners: Complete Workout and Guide to Getting Started

Chest Workout 2: Mass and Strength Gains

If you want to quickly increase your bench press and gain muscle mass, this is your workout. This will help you gain both mass and strength.

As you would expect, you’re starting with heavy bench press and doing more sets. Your goal is to work up to your max weight. After bench press, you’ll revert back to the basic bodybuilding style of training.

ExerciseSets x Reps
Bench Press5 x 6, 3, 3, 3, 1
Incline Dumbbell Press2 x 8
Dumbbell Flyes2 x 10
Dumbbell Pullovers2 x 10

This workout method is also known as powerbuilding, which I have an educational post on that here: Powerbuilding Workouts: How To Get Bigger And Stronger.

Chest Workout 3: Beginner Bodybuilding

If you want to jump right into bodybuilding, this will be the perfect chest workout for you. As always, you’ll follow the rule of starting out with a compound exercise. In this case, it will be the incline bench press.

You’ll also notice a couple more differences with this workout…

  • More overall volume (sets and reps)
  • You’re alternating presses with flyes

More volume is effective at pumping more blood into your muscles, which is required for gaining muscle mass and definition. Alternating presses with flyes (rather than saving flyes for the end of the workout) will also give you a better pump.

ExerciseSets x Reps
Incline Bench Press3 x 6
Cable Flyes (Crossovers)3 x 10
Dumbbell Press3 x 8-10
Incline Dumbbell Flyes3 x 10

The reason you start this bodybuilding workout with incline bench press is that building your upper chest is crucial to the overall shape of your chest. It’s also a compound exercise that allows you to lift more weight.

You can read more about building your upper chest in my post: Upper Chest Workout: How to Build a Bodybuilder Chest.

How to Make Your Chest Workouts More Effective

chest exercises: cable flyes crossovers

You’ve got the workouts and concepts to build a big chest. Now let’s cover some things that you may have not thought about. And these tips are going to help you pack on even more mass.

Stretching (After Workouts)

Let’s be honest with ourselves. As a beginner, you just want to lift weights and get big. So things like stretching may seem like a waste of time.

The good news is all it takes is a few minutes of stretching your chest muscles after your workout.

Here’s a simple stretching routine you can do after each chest workout:

  • Place one hand behind your head and lean that elbow against a wall (or exercise machine that’s tall)
  • Gradually lean forward, stretching your chest muscles and hold for about 20 seconds
  • Similar to the above, extend your arm and place your hand behind the corner of a wall or grab the end of a tall workout machine and stretch your chest for 20 seconds
  • Repeat this routine 2-3 times

This stretching routine only takes a few minutes, so don’t skip this important step after your workouts.

There’s more benefits to stretching than building muscle. It’s also directly related to our overall health.

If you’re interested in taking your stretching routine to the next level and prolonging health, check out Unlock Your Hip Flexors.

Post Workout Meal

Post-workout meals are the most crucial element of gaining muscle mass. This holds true for every workout, not just chest.

You don’t have to overcomplicate this. The best and most convenient post-workout meal is a simple protein shake with some carbs.

Here’s my typical post-workout shake recipe for mass gains:

  • 10 ounces of almond milk
  • 1-2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 serving of natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 serving of frozen dark berries
  • 1 serving of kale

*Many bodybuilders use whey protein powders. I have 2 brands I’ve used over the years that seem to be good quality, for me anyway. You can read about those here: My Top 2 Whey Protein Powders

Proper Mindset for Massive Chest Growth

Lastly, I want to encourage you to get into the right mindset before you go to the gym. This is crucial because whatever is going on in your mind is going to impact your workout, which will affect your gains (or lack of if you have the wrong mindset!).

Here are a few things you can do…

  • Take some deep breaths before the gym and clear your mind. Try breathing in deep, holding it for 10 seconds and slowly breath out, all through your nose. Do this 2-3 times.
  • Listen to or watch something motivational and inspiring before the gym.
  • On the way to the gym, and during your workout listen to metal music to pump you up!

*Listen to the albums Heavy Metal Workout and Heavy Metal Workout II during your workouts. These are instrumental metal albums written specifically for bodybuilders!

Heavy Metal Workout is more of a classuc, chunk metal album with a lot of powerful riffs

Heavy Metal Workout II is faster, and more aggressive almost like instrumental death metal.

By now you’re probably ready to hit the gym and train chest. Just pick one of the 3 beginner’s chest workouts above and follow the tips I gave you. You’ll be on your way to building a massive chest.

I hope you enjoyed this and hope that it helps you. If so, please share this post!

Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,

Jason

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