pec dec flyes chest exercises

How to Define and Shape Your Chest: Hitting Chest from All Angles Workout

Have you been training chest hard only to see minimal results? Do you want to know how to add more size, define and shape to your chest

In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how you can build a superior chest.

You’ll also get 3 different chest workouts that will hit your chest from all angles.

Why You Should  Hit Your Chest From All Angles

Let’s go over the basic anatomy of your chest, first. There are 2 core parts to the pectoral muscle:

  1. Pectoralis Major – This is the ‘bulk’ (no pun intended) of your chest muscle, often referred to as the fan-shaped part of this chest. Think of Arnold!
  2. Pectoralis Minor – These are stabilizing muscles under your pectoralis major.

There are other muscles and tissue that connect and work with your chest muscles, but I’m going to simplify all of this below

For us gym rats, we think of chest as the 3 parts below. I’ve also included the types of exercises we do for them…

  • Upper Chest – Incline bench press, incline dumbbell press/flyes
  • Mid-Chest (or just ‘chest’) – Bench (flat) press, dumbbell press/flyes 
  • Lower Chest – Decline bench press, decline dumbbell press/flyes, dips 

2 Basic Chest Development Tips

  1. Some will perform decline chest exercises in an attempt to burn fat in that area (this is where dudes tend to hold fat). This is a MYTH! Only more activity and watching what goes into your mouth will solve that problem.
  2. Many lack upper chest development, so it’s important to do plenty of incline chest exercises in your workouts. I believe it was Jay Cutler than once said you can’t have too much upper chest (I remember reading this from an old Flex or Muscular Development magazine…can’t recall which one).

How to Truly Define and Shape Your Chest

incline dumbbell flyes for defining and shaping your chest

Now, normally when people think of defining and shaping any muscle, especially chest, they think of light weights with high reps. But that’s not necessarily true.

  • Adding shape to your chest requires adding size to your pecs.
  • That’s where the heavy lifting with compound exercises come in.
  • In fact, you’ll start every chest workout below with a compound exercise, going heavy.
  • Build the foundation, then chisel it. 

But it doesn’t stop there. To define your chest muscles, you also need a variety of exercises, including those that isolate your chest more like flyes. And you’ll also want to add more reps. All of the workouts below will follow this model. 

So you’ll be training for mass and definition in the same workout. It’s really a two-for-one deal, which isn’t a bad deal for your chest! 

Chest Workout 1: All Angles

This first chest workout is going to focus equally (for the most part) on hitting all angles of your chest. You’ll start out with your basic heavy bench press in, which is your foundation for strength and mass. 

Your reps will gradually increase with each exercise that follows. This will help pump more blood into your chest muscles and will define and shape your chest. 

Exercise Sets x Reps
Bench Press 4 x 6
Incline Dumbbell Press 4 x 8
Decline Bench Press 4 x 10
Cable Crossovers 3 x 12

Chest Workout 2: Focus on Upper Chest

Remember what part of the chest many lack development in? Yep, upper chest! Build upper chest is going to really accentuate your entire upper body. 

In this workout, you’ll start out with heavy incline bench press. This may seem a little strange if you’re used to starting with flat bench, then going to decline. And yes, starting with incline will zap your strength a little on the flat bench. So just be prepared for that.

You’ll also notice the format of this workout as a slight difference from Chest Workout 1 above. 

  • Chest Workout 1: Press, Press, Press, Flye
  • Chest Workout 2: Press, Press, Flye, Press

The reason for this is because your final exercise is going to be another incline movement (you start and finish with an incline chest exercise). 

And there’s a caveat to that final exercise – it’s gonna be a unilateral incline dumbbell press. This is where you keep one arm extended, holding that dumbbell up while bringing the opposite arm down towards your chest. You then repeat with the other arm (keep alternating). 

Trust me when I tell you that this will build a MASSIVE UPPER CHEST!

Exercise Sets x Reps
Incline Bench Press 4 x 6
Dumbbell Press 4 x 8
Decline Dumbbell Flyes 4 x 12
Unilateral Incline Dumbbell Press 4 x 10

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

Chest Workout 3: Focus on Lower Chest

I recommend focusing on your lower chest about once a month, or every 3rd or 4th chest workout. Again, I would rather see you focus on the upper chest than anything else.

However, you don’t want to completely neglect your lower chest (which you won’t with any 3 of these chest workouts I’m giving you because they all incline some sort of decline movement).  

Like Chest Workout 2, you’ll start and finish with an exercise that targets your lower chest. In fact, you’re ending with 2 lower chest exercises. Dips also target your lower. You do high rep sets as listed below or add weight by using a belt with a chain. 

Also, one of the main benefits of focusing on lower chest is you can typically handle more weight on decline bench press. Getting your muscles used to pushing heavier weights, in general, can help increase your normal (flat) bench press and everything else! 

Remember, lower chest exercises aren’t going to necessarily burn fat around your lower chest. If that’s your goal, then increase your overall activity and read my post: Meal Plans for Getting Shredded.

Exercise Sets x Reps
Decline Bench Press 4 x 6
Incline Bench Press 4 x 8
Dumbbell Press 3 x 12
Lower Cable Crossovers 3 x 12
Dips 3 x 12-20+

Special Notes for Decline Bench

I want to make a special note for the decline bench press. I see a lot of folks going super heavy on these because you can move more weight on decline than flat bench. Because of that, many will put decline towards the beginning of their chest workout in order to press more weight.

**Yes, I know…Chest Workout 3 has you doing a decline bench first! 

However, building, shaping and defining your chest isn’t necessarily about moving a ton of weight. It’s just one component. 

The reason I bring this up is that whether you do decline press in the beginning, middle, or end of your chest workout, I want you to do this…

  • Really concentrate on forcing your chest muscles to do the work.
  • Don’t just go through the motions moving the weigh aimlessly from point A to B. 
  • Control the weight on the descent back to the starting position (also known as the negative).

Decline bench press (and decline dumbbell press) can really add substantial shape to your chest if you put more focus on each and every rep. And building more muscle tissue around that area will indeed help your physique. 

So when you perform decline bench press, tap into your mind-muscle connection and visualize your chest growing and becoming more defined throughout every single rep. 

High and Low Reps for Chest

Another important aspect of building and shaping your chest is combining both high and low reps in your workout. This allows for 2 things to happen:

  1. Build more dense muscle mass in your chest
  2. Define and shape that muscle mass

That’s why all 3 chest workouts above have you starting with those heavy compound pressing exercises with lower reps, and gradually increasing the reps every exercise thereafter. 

Actually, I recommend that you follow this method for all muscle groups! 

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Chest Day Tip

In my experience, Mondays seem to be International Chest Day (hey, this should be a world holiday!).

Because of this, I’ve historically trained chest on Tuesday. There’s less chance that the bench presses are taken. So I would encourage you to train chest any day but Monday!

I also hope that you try these chest workouts. You could even alternate them every chest day to mix things up.

Or if you train chest twice a week (like I recommend for legs), do the first workout I gave you on your first chest day, and choose another for your second chest day.

Train with Passion,


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