8 Best Chest Workout Routine For Building Muscle (Most Effective)

Whether you are looking for the best workout to lose weight, a routine to put on muscle or both, incorporating the best chest workout will help you achieve your goals. The main muscle in the chest is the pectoralis major, which consists of the sternal head and clavicular head muscle fibers. In order to grow these sections, you have to work the muscles from different angles. A built chest is more than just the pecs through and building up the surrounding muscles to increase your shoulder width will complete the desired look.

Chest Workout Routine: Key Takeaways

Building a strong and well-developed chest requires a routine of compound lifts and isolation exercises. Doing two chest workouts a week and consuming enough protein is the most effective way to gain muscle.

Best Chest Workout Routine

Warm Up

A good workout starts with a good warm-up. For this routine, the primary focus is to get blood flowing to the muscles of the chest and upper body. Do each movement 10 times.

  • Thoracic extension over a foam roller
  • Half kneeling thoracic rotation
  • Cat cow

Compound Lifts

Get the most out of your workout by doing compound lifts first. This way you will be able to push the most weight when you are the most energized and ready, rather than tiring yourself out with isolation movements first. Give yourself rest periods of 30-60 seconds between sets.

  1. Barbell incline bench press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps: This will target the upper chest
  2. Dumbbell bench press (flat bench): 4 sets of 6-8 reps: This will target the whole pec muscle
  3. Decline barbell bench press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps. This will target the lower chest
  4. Push-ups: 3 sets to failure

Isolation Lifts

You’ll perform many reps of these movements because each only targets one muscle; either the pectoralis major or the deltoids.

  1. Chest fly (machine version): 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  2. Dumbbell flyes (flat bench): 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  3. Standing front dumbbell raises: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  4. Standing lateral dumbbell raises: 4 sets of 8-10 reps

The Major Problems With Your Current Chest Workout 

There are many things that people do incorrectly in their workout routines that may be inhibiting their potential for gaining muscle. Here are  a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Not warming up: Your warm-up doesn’t have to take forever. Just 5 minutes of dynamic stretching can help improve blood flow for muscle activation and help prevent injury.
  2. Doing your exercises in a random order: Properly structuring your workout is essential for building muscle. Prioritizing compound lifts and ending with isolation exercises is the best way to keep volume high.
  3. Not cooling down: Incorporating recovery practices is necessary, especially if you want to do two or more workouts in the same week for a particular muscle group. Try these cool down exercises after your next workout.
  4. Going into a workout without enough energy: Make sure you know what to eat before a workout to give your body the nutrients it needs. You can also try a pre-workout for another boost of energy. Transparent Labs has done pre-workout reviews and here are some of the best pre-workouts available.

Chest Workout Tips

Bench press is a foundational exercise to hit the chest muscles. Photo: Shutterstock
  1. Start with the correct weight: You have to lift heavy weights to build muscle but be careful not to lift too much and get injured. You should be able to complete at least 6 repetitions and up to 12[1] repetitions. If you can’t do 6 reps, the weight is too heavy. If you feel like you can do more than 12, go heavier.
  2. Squeeze: Try to tighten or squeeze your chest at the end of the motion when your arms are fully extended out in front of you. Focus on that tightening throughout the movement so your body doesn’t compensate with other muscles.
  3. Have a workout buddy: Be accountable for one another by scheduling workouts with a friend. They can spot you too so you can push heavy weight safely!
  4. Track progress: Progressive overload is how we build muscle. You will want to add weight each week gradually to see progress, so make sure to keep track of the weights in a notebook or on your phone.

How To Build A Big Chest

Supplementing your workout with protein is a great way to facilitate muscle growth. Photo: Shutterstock

For optimum chest development, you want to be sure that you are doing chest training two to three times per week. In order to increase muscle mass, you need to do anywhere from six to 20 sets[2] of exercises per muscle group per week.

Protein shakes have been found to promote recovery and accelerate muscle development[3] in people who participate in resistance training. At baseline, you need to consume about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram body weight[4], and when you are regularly doing resistance training, you should aim to consume an extra 25 kg[5] of protein. Common protein powders are made from whey, casein, egg, soy or pea.


Building chest mass doesn’t have to be complicated. Warm up, do your compound lifts followed by isolation movements, get a good cool down, and drink protein. By implementing this effective chest workout regularly, you will notice definition and strength in just a few weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I do this routine? 

Aim for at least twice per week.

Are the barbell bench press and dumbbell bench press the same?

They will challenge the same muscles, but try to stick to one or the other to track your progress.

How do I build upper chest muscles?

The upper chest is targeted with any slightly upward horizontal adduction movement such as the incline bench press.