4 Great Chest Workouts for Improved Mass and Strength

4 Great Chest Workouts for Improved Mass and Strength

I must admit... My chest genetics suck. I wasn't blessed with Arnold Schwarzenegger, shelf-like pecs. I've had to work hard over the last 30 years (yes, I am that old) to build up an appreciable amount of chest size.

If you're like me you've tried nearly everything to get your chest to grow. Volume. Heavy weight. Supersets. Drop sets. Rest-pause training. Incline. Decline. You name it. Each had value.

Over the years I've also tried some crazy chest workouts. Boredom and desperation can be an effective, growth-inducing combination. The 4 workouts in this article are some of the best I've come up with over the years.

Related: Run the Rack & Back: Chest and Triceps Destroyer

Now I don't recommend performing one of these workouts each week. They are brutal, not for the faint of heart, and probably are best run every 2-3 months.

I prefer to pull out a chest workout like these when I am training with a buddy that I rarely see. You can't beat a good, old fashioned, knock-down, drag-out brawl.

Chest Workout #1 - Run the Rack and Back

It's time to hit the dumbbell rack. Start with 20 pounders and perform 8 reps. Next move on to 25s, 30s, 35s... etc. You get the picture. Keep moving up the rack in 5 pound increments, performing 8 rep sets.

Remember, this is a tag team effort. Alternate back and forth between you and your training partner.

Keep moving up the rack until one of you fails to reach 8 reps. Now it's time to work back down the rack.

I recommend moving on to 5 reps sets at this point. You're already fatigued. These back-off sets are merely adding insult to injury.

Don't bother working all the way back down to 20 pound dumbbells. Five to eight back off sets will work just fine.

Here is a sample workout. The lifter failed to reach 8 reps with the 100 pound dumbbells, and started moving back down the rack at that point.
  • 20s x 8
  • 25s x 8
  • 30s x 8
  • 35s x 8
  • 40s x 8
  • 45s x 8
  • 50s x 8
  • 55s x 8
  • 60s x 8
  • 65s x 8
  • 70s x 8
  • 75s x 8
  • 80s x 8
  • 85s x 8
  • 90s x 8
  • 95s x 8
  • 100s x 6
  • 95s x 5
  • 90s x 5
  • 85s x 5
  • 80s x 5
  • 75s x 5
  • 70s x 5
  • 65s x 5
  • 60s x 5
You can also try this workout solo. It's a nice change of pace when the gym is empty and you have access to the entire dumbbell rack.

Don't panic if the early sets feel too light. Hang in there. This workout routine will spiral out of control quickly. Rest as needed between sets.

Chest Workout #2 - Bench Press Ladder to 15

Can you make it to 20 reps? Maybe, maybe not. In either case, your chest will thank you in the morning.

Start with a bench press weight that you could normally press for 20 reps. If you're not sure what this weigh might be, use the Tiger Fitness bench press calculator to get an approximation.

Now start with a single rep. During your next set perform two reps. Keep adding a rep to each set until can no longer finish that effort.

Let me know how you did in the comments section below.

This workout can either be performed solo, or with a workout partner. If you are trying this challenge and training alone, make sure you have a spotter.

If you made it to a 15 rep set, congrats! This is a total of 120 reps.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Start with 20 pounders and perform 8 reps. Next move on to 25s, 30s, 35s... etc. You get the picture. Keep moving up the rack in 5 pound increments.

Chest Workout #3 - The Push Ups/German Volume Training Superset

German volume training, or GVT, is brutal. Make no mistake. But it's not brutal enough to make it into this article.

One of my favorite chest-growing tactics is to superset the bench press with push ups. For this workout, we are going to perform 10 sets by 10 reps - German volume training style - and superset each set with as many push ups as possible.

Rest about 120 seconds between supersets. This rest period exceeds what is normally recommended for GVT, but who cares. You'll need the extra recovery time.

Chest Workout #4 - 30 Minute Block of Brutality

You can use any chest exercise of choice for this workout. Simply fire up a timer app on your phone and start hammering out reps.

See how many reps you can do in 30 minutes using:
  • 50% of your max
  • 60% of your max
  • 70% of your max
  • 80% of your max
Rest only briefly in between sets. As soon as you feel physically and mentally ready to go again, start knocking out more reps.

This training session will leave you sore. I guarantee it. Let the chest gains begin!

Previous article 10 Bicep Exercises You Have to Try

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