Chest Workouts to Beef Up Lagging Pecs

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Just last week I was approached by a lifter who believed he had a lagging chest. Upon looking at his pictures, I really didn’t see anything lagging at all. But in the eyes of this gentleman, his chest was small and weak.

A classic case of bigorexia – or simply unrealistic natural expectations.

Before I dive into these chest workouts, let’s clear up a few things. If you believe that you can build thick slabs of chest-meat on the same level as Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’re wrong. In fact, for the average natural male, even optimal chest development can seem rather yawnworthy.

Related – 4 Chest Workouts for Mass and Strength

I’m not trying to discourage you here; simply ground you in reality. If you’re building strength and experiencing quality muscle gains across the board, then odds are your chest is developing just fine.

For most lifters the issue isn’t underdeveloped pecs at all. It’s having unrealistic expectations of just what your chest shape and size should be. Genetics plays a huge role with chest shape and size. Some lifters have fuller-looking chesticles, while others simply have pecs that look like paper-thin cuts of beef.

There’s not much you can do about a poor genetic shape, other than get bigger. Even then, size likely won’t make your pecs look rounded and full to the degree you desire.

It also needs to said that the typical male struggles with chest fat. Even a relatively small amount of fat can hide your chest development. You may have chest muscles that actually look reasonably full, but until you’re lean the quality size and shape remains virtually hidden.

I’m a perfect example of this. At 18% bodyfat I still carry around more chest fat than I like to admit. So while my arms and shoulders have quality leanness and vascularity, I see little to no chest separation.

So why the long and somewhat tedious lead-in before these workouts? The reason is simple. It’s a good idea to have reasonable expectations. Your genetic shape not not be so great, or your current chest fat is hiding your gains.

In either case, here’s the solution… Focus on what you can control.

What can you control? Your effort in the gym, and your body fat levels. To maximize the appearance of your chest, this is essential.

  • Build Strength – Push, and build strength over time. This is progressive overload, and it always leads to size increases.
  • Lose Fat – The more you lean out, the more prominent your chest shape and development will become.

Chest Workouts for Lagging Pecs

Chest Here’s my recommended plan of attack.

  • Major Compound Movements – Get as strong as humanly possible while learning good form. These exercises include bench press and variations.
  • Minor Chest Movements – Focus on slow and steady strength gains while keeping your tempo smooth and your form locked in. These exercises include machine press, chest dips, guillotine press, and Smith machine bench press.
  • Isolation Movements – Focus on a controlled movement and a tight chest contraction/squeeze, while also slowly getting stronger over time. These exercises include, but are not limited to, push ups, cable crossovers, flyes, and pec dec.

Exercise selection matters. We want to start each chest workout with a big hitter; a challenging compound movement. I also prefer to back this chesticle attack with a second compound movement. After this point, it’s time for some lighter work. Finish off the chest with more moderately-taxing machine and isolation lifts, and plenty of quality reps and contractions.

This section will contain one template each for:

  • Full Body Workout – 3x a week chest training
  • Upper/Lower Split – 2x a week chest training
  • Bodypart Split – 1x a week chest training

Make sure to push sets hard using good form. Add weight when you can. These chest workouts will not help you reach your goal if you do not try to make sets count, and push for progressive increases in reps and weight.

Full Body Chest Workout

Here’s a sample schedule. Incorporate it into any full body workout.

  • Monday – Chest Workout A
  • Wednesday – Chest Workout B
  • Friday – Chest Workout C
Workout a
Full Body Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Bench Press  3  6
 Push Ups  2  Max Reps
Workout B
Full Body Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Chest Dips  2  12-15
 Pec Dec  3  15
Workout C
Full Body Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Dumbbell Bench Press  3  12
 Machine Chest Press  2  15

Upper/Lower Split Chest Workout

Here’s a sample schedule. Incorporate these workouts into any upper/lower split.

  • Monday – Upper Workout A
  • Tuesday – Lower Workout
  • Thursday – Upper Workout B
  • Friday – Lower Workout
Workout a
Upper/Lower Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Bench Press  4  6
 Superset:
 Machine Chest Press  3  10
 Push Ups  3  Max
Workout B
Upper/Lower Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Dumbbell Bench Press  2  12
 Dips  2  12-15
 Pec Dec  4  15

Bodypart Split Chest Workout

Incorporate this workout into any chest day.

Workout
Chest Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
 Bench Press  4  6
 Superset:
 Dumbbell Bench Press  2  12
 Push Ups  2  Max
 Chest Dips  2  12-15
 Machine Chest Press  3  12
 Cable Crossovers  3  15
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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.