To grow a big, wide chest you need to challenge your pecs in ways they have not been challenged before. Which is why doing three sets of ten barbell bench press every Monday and little else is never going to be enough to build impressive pecs.
So if you’re struggling to add chest size, try this six-move session that targets your chest muscles from a variety of angles and through different rep ranges to hit as many muscle fibres as possible. Do the moves in order, and prioritise proper form throughout.
Expert tip This session starts with two moves done as straight sets. Go as heavy as you can while maintaining good form. This will get your chest muscles firing hard, which means you can then work them even harder with the final four moves, which are split into two supersets, to increase the muscles’ workload while minimising rest to fatigue as many muscle fibres as possible.
1 Close-grip bench press
Sets 5 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why A narrow grip keeps your form strict to work your chest harder.
How Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with a shoulder-width grip. Lower the bar to your chest, keeping your elbows tight to your sides, then press it back up powerfully.
2 Dumbbell pull-over
Sets 5 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why It “opens up” your chest and works it through a range of motion hard to replicate.
How Lie on a flat bench holding a dumbbell with both hands above your chest. Slowly lower the weight behind your head until you feel a good stretch in your lats. Pause, then lift the weight back to the start position.
Expert tip The two moves below make up a superset, which means you’ll do all the reps of 3A, rest for 30 seconds, then do all the reps of 3B, then rest for 60 seconds. You’ll need to use lighter dumbbells for 3B than for 3A. Do four total sets, then move on to the final superset of this workout.
3A Incline dumbbell bench press
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 30sec
Why It targets the upper portion of the pecs muscles.
How Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under complete control.
3B Incline dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It works your chest in isolation.
How Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weights down to the sides, then squeeze your chest to return to the start.
Expert tip The final two moves of the session, below, are another superset, so follow the same pattern as you did for moves 3A and 3B. For these two moves good form and range of motion are more important than weight, so choose a level of resistance that allows you to perform the two moves perfectly.
4A Standing cable flye
Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 30sec
Why It will build better pec width.
How Stand in the middle of a cable machine holding a D-handle in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows and your chest up, bring your hands down in an arc to meet in front of your chest. Pause, then reverse the movement to the start.
4B Standing cable cross-over
Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 60sec
Why It works the chest through its full range.
How Stand in the middle of a cable machine holding a D-handle in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows and your chest up, bring your hands down in an arc to meet in front of your bellybutton. Pause and hold, then reverse the movement to the start.