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So, you’ve been hitting the gym for some time now, hitting the weights and chugging shakes, but when you look in the mirror you still see a man with a bird-chest staring back.
There’s a reason why the bench press is the king of chest exercises and the bench is the busiest piece of equipment at the gym.
(READ>) The bench isn’t the best chest movement for growth, shocker I know. 😯 Stick around and I share what exercise I train my clients to do for truly amazing results!
It’s an unwritten rule that guys going to the gym are looking for some pecs big enough to cast a shadow and every girl wants a guy who has pec-shadows to stand under.
In fact, if you’re ready to make your girlfriend jealous because your pecs cast more shade than hers, then read on my friend. Read on.
What You Need to Know For A Bigger Chest in 30 Days
Muscle hypertrophy (a fancy term for muscle growth) doesn’t just happen by accident.
If it did, you wouldn’t need my advice.
Training to increase muscle mass requires hard work and patience.
However, if you understand the underlying mechanisms, you can cut out a lot of the frustration…
…because your muscle WILL GROW if you follow a few steps.
Therefore, in order to get our chest growing, you need to understand some basics:
- The Anatomy
- Optimum Training Variables
- Proper Nutrition
- Best Exercises
- Rest & Recovery
- Avoid Common Mistakes
You have the formula for how to build a bigger chest in 30 days.
I’m going to break it down further into actionable steps because you’ll need to know crucial components to growing a bigger and stronger chest.
Now let’s grow…
We first need to understand how the chest, or pecs, work so that we can understand why we are doing the exercises listed later.
1. The Pectoral Muscle actually contains two muscles, Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor. Together, these muscles are responsible for controlling the arms including:
- Flexion of the humerus: Think about when you throw a ball underhand.
- Adduction of the humerus: Think flapping your arms
- Medial Inner Rotation of the humerus: Think about the motion your arm makes when arm wrestling.
2. The pectoralis major contains two heads; A lower, larger part called the sternal head and a smaller, upper part called the clavicular head.
- The sternal head is best activated with flat and decline press.
- The clavicular head a.k.a. The upper chest is best activated with incline pressing movements.
Since your pecs actually involve multiple muscles that respond to different angles differently.
It’s best to hit the muscles from all angles with several movement patterns.
If you want optimum growth, you can’t just go to the gym Willy-nilly and randomly throw some weight around.
You’ll need to have a strategic plan in place before you even step foot in the gym so you know what you’re going to do.
There are a few different variables that you will face when determining your program but don’t worry because we found the most scientifically backed variables for ultimate growth.
Here are the variables you’ll be working with.
This refers to the total amount of exercise performed which is calculated by reps X sets X weight.
Like This >> 10 reps X 5 Sets X 100kg =5000kg
There is a direct dose-response relationship between volume and hypertrophy meaning more volume.
= Greater Hypertrophy.
To an extent.
There is a diminishing point where more volume will actually hinder your gains.
The optimum range is probably lower than you think, which may be why you’re not growing.
Research shows that a window of about 10-20 working sets a week for a muscle group is optimum for growth with higher ranges of 30+ sets for a short amount of time₁.
Since this is only a 30 day program, we will work in the higher end.
This refers to the total amount of training sessions per week you train and/or specifically how many sessions you train a particular muscle group.
The frequency has little to no bearing on hypertrophy assuming that the volume is equal.
This means that doing 20 sets done in 1 session seems to have the same effect as if doing 20 sets over 3 sessions.
However, since we will be doing high-volume, we want to space our sessions throughout the week.
The latest research shows that large muscle groups, including the pectorals, need 48-72 hours of rest between sessions to fully recover₁.
Therefore, unlike other programs that have you do sessions on specific days, you are going to train your chest every 72 hours (3 days) which will cause your training days to stagger throughout the 30 days.
This way we can maximize our training and recovery time…
Meaning you will train your chest Monday, Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, etc
This refers to the percentage of your 1RM weight that you are using. For example, if your 1RM is 100 kg and you want to use a 70% load, you would use 70kg.
A load has an inverse relationship with repetitions since you can lift a lighter weight more reps and vice-versa. Obviously.
The best loading range for hypertrophic growth tends to be in the 85%-65% of your 1RM or 6-12 reps₁.
For best results, we are going to train the chest in this entire range.
Sports Nutrition for Hypertrophy
I do not follow the saying “Training is 20%, Nutrition is 80%” in terms of achieving your goals.
Now, this doesn’t mean I think nutrition isn’t important…
…it means I believe it’s just as important as the rest of your program.
In order to reap the benefits of your time in the gym, you’ll need to follow a few nutritional guidelines.
Get in a Caloric Surplus
In order to grow, your body’s metabolic and physiological systems need fuel in order to function properly.
This is especially true in ‘anabolic” reactions (think: to build) which includes muscle growth.
Think of your muscles as a house and calories as bricks.
In order to build the house, it’s going to need a surplus of bricks.
Once the bricks run out, the house stops being built. And so do your new pair of pecs.
You want to aim to be in a 300-500 daily caloric surplus which should add about 2.5-4.5lbs of weight in 30 days.
DO NOT think this is a license to stuff your face..we want a hard muscular chest, not man boobs.
Protein, Protein, Protein.
Protein is the building block of protein so don’t be shy with your intake.
While RDA recommends a daily intake equal to 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, that’s for the average population and we’re not average.
We’re growing a monster chest.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends a much higher intake of 1.4g-2.0g/kg for athletes and this is the window which I recommend.
I prefer the upper limit but anywhere in this window will be a good place to start and adjust as necessary.
If you need a clean protein powder to boost intake, check out the brand we recommend for an optimal, clean protein.
We are not going to have a debate of low-carb diets here.
Now is not the time to experiment.
Richard Kreider Ph.D, one of the world’s leading figures in sports nutrition, recommends resistance athletes consume at least 3-5 g/kg/day for strength and hypertophy².
Eat your carbs. It’s that simple.
Studies indicate that consuming protein in smaller doses throughout the day is superior to eating 1 or 2 larger doses.
This will maximize muscle protein accretion i.e. building muscle
This view is also expressed by Brad Schoenfeld aka Doctor Hypertrophy, who suggests consuming meals with 4-5g/kg of protein 4-5 times throughout the day¹.
Immediately after we finish training, our body enters what has been termed the “anabolic-window”.
This is a time when our systems are working in overdrive and muscle protein synthesis is accelerated.
We want to take advantage of this time by consuming a meal with at least 20g of protein relatively soon after your workout, with some studies showing 40g of protein post-workout can elicit even greater muscle protein synthesis.
Pre-sleep protein ingestion is the hottest new area of research concerning hypertrophy.
This meta-analysis showed that consuming 20-40g of casein protein (slow-digestive protein) 30 minutes before sleep can stimulate protein synthesis while you sleep.
In other words, get big while you sleep
Yea. Do that.
If you haven’t heard, creatine is the most scientifically backed sports supplement there is and for good reason.
Creatine is the closest to a miracle supplement we have so to learn more, I recommend checking out this in-depth breakdown. (Can link here)
If you are new to creatine, you will need to start with a “loading” protocol which you will consume 20-25g (4-5 servings throughout the day) for 5 days.
Then simply consume 5g/day.
Not only can you expect to increased lean-mass (1.2kg in 28 days), but creatine can also enhance recovery.
I love caffeine and it’s all I use for my pre-workout.
Assuming you are not suffering from any health conditions it’s perfectly safe.
While it may not increase mass directly, it has many other possible beneficial properties including.
- Decrease of DOMS
- Lower perceived exertion
- Higher energy and focus (it’s no secret why it’s part of almost every pre-workout)
- Increase in muscular endurance, strength, and power
Research shows in order to benefit from caffeine, you need to take 3-9g/kg of body weight 30-60 min prior to exercise.
This can be a bit higher than you’re used to so make sure to start with a lower dose.
The Only 5 Exercises For Building a Bigger Chest
With a long-term goal, I may give you multiple exercises that you could alternate through overtime to reach your goals.
However, we only have 30 days so we are only going to concentrate on the 5 most effective exercises to chisel out your chest.
You will notice that these 5 exercises will hit your chest from all of the various angles producing optimal growth.
When someone tells you to flex your chest, do you push your arms straight down, or push them down?
At the beginning of this article, I told you I was going to tell you about an exercise that is better than the bench press for building pecs. Well, it’s the classic bodyweight movement known as the dip.
I love the flat-bench press for strength and power but when a client tells me they specifically want a big chest, I have them get on some parallel bars and bust out some dips for superior activation.
The veterans in a gym know that the guys with the big triceps hit the bench…
…the guys with a big chest hit the dip bar.
A little bit of bro-science but what are you gonna do?
However, to activate your chest correctly on the dip, you need to do them correctly.
When you do the dip, lean your chest forward and elbows out to make sure you hit the pecs.
Incline Dumbbell Press
The incline dumbbell press will train your upper pecs and make sure you have that nice, full look.
Lately, I have been dropping the barbell and using dumbbells when doing my pressing as the chest tends to get more activation due to your arms moving medially during the top portion.
Flat Dumbbell Press
We’re going to use the dumbbell again, but this time just on a flat bench. Remember to hold and squeeze at the top for 1-2 seconds of every rep.
Mid-Pulley Fly/Cable Crossover
Flys are my favorite isolation movement for the chest.
Specifically when done on the cross-over pulley machine.
I prefer flys done on a cable crossover rather than using dumbbells due to the fact that the resistance force is constant throughout the motion.
This is a classic bodybuilding move that has recently begun to become more common amongst your average lifter. This is because it works.
The pull-over is a great movement to isolate the sternal head of the pectoralis₁.
The Program – Best Workout To Get A Bigger Chest
Each day, you are going to do 3 exercises. You will do dips every day along with a pair of other exercises which you will always do together.
Pair A: Incline Dumbbell Bench and Mid-Level Pulley
Pair B: Flat Dumbbell Bench and Dumbbell Pull-Over
Each session will always use the same rep range and rest periods for each exercise. It will look like this:
Exercise 1: 4×6 2:00
Exercise 2: 3×8 1:30
Exercise 3: 3×12 1:00
This does not include a warm-up. You should have at least 2 warm-up sets before starting the first exercise.
Mid-Level Pulley and Dumbbell Pull-Over will always use 3×12 where the other exercises will alternate the number of reps.
It will look like this….
(Day 1) Session 1
|Mid Level Pulley||3×12|
(DAY 4) Session 2
|Flat Dumbell Press||3×8|
(DAY 7) Session 3
|Incline Dumbbell Press||4×6|
|Mid Level Pulley||3×12|
(DAY 10) Session 4
|Flat Dumbell Press||4×6|
You can download the full 30 day chest workout program below.
The only special set you will do is to work the LAST SET to the failure of exercises 2 & 3 ONLY.
Working to failure can elicit further hypertrophy, but too much can hinder your gains.
And in every rep, really focus on every contraction
The mind-muscle connection is scientifically-backed effective
DON’T FORGET PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD!!!!
Perhaps the most important principle you must apply is progressive overload.
This simply refers to putting more stress on your muscle in order to elicit growth.
Using the same weight every week will do nothing but ensure you keep your lacking muscles.
All you need to do is add a small amount of weight to your lifts each week.
Rest and Recovery
The easiest and most effective thing there is for people to do in a training program is the one that’s often messed up.
Getting into a normal sleep cycle with 7-10 hours of sleep will make a world of difference in how you feel and look.
- Higher Testerone
- A higher percentage of lean mass
- Higher levels of Human Growth Hormone
- Improved recovery and performance
One More Thing
This program only covers your chest.
You still need to train the rest of your body.
You can add this into your current workout program or if your chest is lagging use this exact formula for chest growth accelerator.
Stop Doing These Mistakes For Better Results
Now that you know what needs to be done, I need to go over common mistakes that will prevent you from wasting muscle growth.
Most people don’t know they are making these common mistakes and it’s costing you size.
To be frank, all you need to do is what I TOLD YOU TO DO as anything else is superfluous at best or detrimental at worst.
However, I still want to go over this list so you understand the WHY not just the HOW.
STOP TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT
These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer the execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all the world was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to remove, and duties to discharge.
This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see new trainees make. They want to grow muscle and lose weight at the same time.
Losing weight requires to be in a caloric deficit which is the exact opposite of a caloric surplus, which you need to be in.
Don’t do it.
NOT TRACKING PROGRESS
You need to track your lifts. I can’t stress this enough as this is the only way you will know if you are adding volume to your lifts.
ie: Progressive overload
Lucky for you, we only have 5 lifts to track so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
DOING TOO MUCH, NOT ENOUGH REST, OR ADDING EXERCISES TO A PROGRAM
This is a 3 for 1 but all entail doing too much without enough rest.
In the world of lifting, more does not always equal better.
Stop thinking you’re superman and can do more work than everyone else because you can’t…
…and you are only going to break down your body to a point that it can’t repair itself.
Do your sets and then leave the gym.
Don’t be lazy.
Push yourself on every rep. You should be putting maximum focus and energy into every lift.
Stop looking at your smartphone and scrolling through Instagram.
Distractions will take your focus away, thoughts, and thinking about your to-do-list will shut down the focus. Don’t let no one or nothing distract you, put in the work, and reap the rewards.
WORK HARD. WORK SMART. GROW.
Training can be harder than it needs to be if you make it.
LUCKILY you have us who have done the hard part, researched what you need to do, and laid it out for you…
….so don’t make this any more complicated than it needs to be.
Trust the process, do what we listed for 30 days, and enjoy your bigger chest. Easy peasy.
Schoenfeld, Brad. Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy. Human Kinetics, 2021.
Schoenfeld, Brad. Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy. Human Kinetics, 2021.
A native Floridian, Garett Reid has 10 years of experience in the fitness industry working both in the US as well as across Southeast Asia. During this time he has worked as a personal trainer, performance coach, gym owner, fitness consultant, and educator. He has earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and also holds his NSCA CSCS and CISSN certifications. In addition to coaching, Garett has an active life in athletics competing in endurance sports including Ironman 70.3, trail running, and endurance cycling up to 400km as well as training for Strongman events.