How to Get a Bigger Chest - Pro Tips and Workouts - Old School Labs
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Home » OSL Blog » How to Get a Bigger Chest – Pro Tips and Workouts

How to Get a Bigger Chest – Pro Tips and Workouts

November 11, 2019

Key Takeaways

  1. Getting a bigger chest won’t happen overnight, or even in a month. It takes time, dedication, and proper exercises to really build your chest definition.
  2. Proper nutrition, allowing time for recovery, and getting enough sleep each night is essential to building and maintaining muscle mass.
  3. Working the muscles properly, including going slow and prolonging muscle activation, can provide greater gains in less time and reps.
  4. Target each muscle in the pectoral muscles to make sure you have well-rounded and even definition to accentuate your physique.

Some bodybuilders and general weight lifters struggle with figuring out how to get a bigger chest.

Some don’t have proper symmetry, while others are dealing with man boobs, despite working out.

People are always hoping to find a quick way to get bigger arms and chest in 30 days or less. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that will help build your chest muscles in a week or even 30 days.

Arnold S Posing Chest
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sure, you may be able to achieve more muscle thickness if you already have some pecs. But don’t expect to see real results that soon. It takes time and dedication to increase your chest muscles the right way.

If you want to have better chest definition and are willing to put in the work, keep reading. Today we’re going to discuss how to get a bigger chest using the right exercises. 

  • Getting a bigger chest with and without equipment
  • Tips for chest day from some of the past Mr. Olympia champions
  • Targeted exercises to work different parts of the pecs for overall symmetry
  • Other ways to help develop your chest
  • A winning workout to get you started

How to Get a Bigger Chest in Fast

If you think you can build a bigger chest quickly, think again. It takes patience and hard work to get to the Golden Era level definition. Even then, they usually only did chest day twice a week, no more than three. 

It takes time to really build up your pectoralis muscles to get a bigger chest. Most programs take 10- to 12-weeks of steady determination for a noticeable difference.

Frank Zane Posing On Beach
Frank Zane

Of course, spending time at the gym is a requirement. But that’s not all it takes to build your chest muscles to improve your overall physique.

You will also have to:

  • Eat the right foods (and stay away from the wrong foods).
  • Get enough sleep each day.
  • Leave at least two recovery days in between each workout session (meaning you won’t be able to work your chest more than three times a week).
  • Work out correctly to avoid any type of injury, which can completely derail your plans.

1. Eat the Right Foods

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. Fitness is much more diet than exercise! You may not want to hear it, but it’s true.

Healthy Food Spread

If you really want to get a bigger chest and build up your pecs, you need to start in the kitchen. Here are the things you should be eating:

  • Vegetables (lots of them)
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Quality fish

Stay away from high glycemic foods as much as possible, though white rice is acceptable as a pre-workout meal. It can help fuel your workouts and aid in muscle recovery post-workout.

Eat high protein foods as well to help fuel your workouts and keep yourself satiated. In fact, studies show that eating protein prior to sleeping can accelerate post-exercise recovery.

Proper nutrition will help fuel your body with the right nutrients and minerals that your muscles need. If you really want to get a bigger chest, make sure you are eating properly first.

2. Get Enough Sleep

People are busy, and sometimes that means sleep suffers. If you want to get serious results in the gym, then you need to prioritize sleep.

Man Sleeping

When you deprive your body of sleep, the vital hormones needed to rebuild muscles are depleted. It can also create an inflammatory response, which may inhibit muscle recovery.

One of the best ways to get more sleep is through sleep extension. Basically, you need to sleep longer. Whether that means going to bed earlier or waking up later, try to extend your sleep by an hour. 

Some studies believe that athletes should get 10 hours or more sleep each night. For professional athletes (including bodybuilders), sleep is even more important than for the average person. Lack of quality sleep can cause serious implications to their sport:

  • Reaction time
  • Accuracy
  • Slower swim turns
  • Submaximal strength
  • Reduced cognitive function
Vintage Bliss

Need help with your sleep? Vintage Bliss™ might be just the thing you need. It’s not habit-forming and can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer to rebuild your muscles.

3. Recovery Days

If you are working out properly, then you are pushing your muscles to the brink. That means, your muscle fibers are tearing down and need enough time to recover before you work them again.

Think recovery days are for the weak? Think again. Recovery days are actually where your muscles build their mass, not when you’re in the gym.

Resting Runner

If you don’t give your muscles time to rebuild, then you are at serious risk of injury. Tear your pec muscle and you could be out of the gym for months. Then you’ll really need to work on rebuilding your chest muscles!

Plus, your sleep will suffer, and we just learned why you need as much sleep as possible. And, your adrenals will become fatigued and overproduce cortisol. Not good if you don’t want to pack on the fat.

Trust us, leave time for rest before your next chest day. If you really need to hit the gym, then work on your lower-body in between chest days. Don’t let all that hard work not pay off.

4. Proper Form is Crucial

Without proper form, you not only won’t get any gains, but you’re also almost guaranteed to injure yourself.

You never want to be that guy in the gym that doesn’t know what they’re doing. Confidence and proper knowledge will get you far, so make sure you practice your form if needed.

Later, we’ll link some videos that show you how to perform the suggested exercises. 

Consider getting a spotter or trainer in the gym to help you out until you know you’re doing it right. You also want to practice with either an unweighted barbell or the lowest weight dumbbells. 

Heavyweights are not impressive, especially when you aren’t doing the exercise correctly. Save them for down the road, when you have perfect form.

Some More Workout Tips from the Lion of Lebanon Samir Bannout

Some of the best advice we can give here comes from Mr. Olympia 1983 and Old School Labs Ambassador himself, Samir Bannout. Consistency and mindset are the keys to maintaining your motivation in bodybuilding. 

Believe in yourself, work hard, and be dedicated. But also know that sometimes, more can actually be less. Spending multiple hours of training each day can actually hinder your growth and gains. Work smarter, not harder.

Samir Bannout Showing Chest
Samir Bannout (The Lion of Lebanon) In Competition Form

Before you hit the gym, know what you’re going to do that day. Figure out what muscle group you’ll include, like back, shoulders, and arms, to fill out your gym time. 

Work each muscle group no more than 30 minutes. Complete the workouts properly to get the maximum result in the shortest amount of time. 

How to Build Chest Muscles at Home

The good news here is that it is absolutely true that you can build up your chest definition at home. Some of the best chest workouts to create a full chest with beautiful symmetry can be done with no equipment.

How do you get a bigger chest without weights? The push-up (or press up, if you’re British). The key is to use the different variations of the push-up to your advantage.

There is no shortage of ways you can vary the push-up to hit all the chest muscles for a quality workout.

Push ups at home

According to the Greatist, there are over 80 different variations of the push-up! And if you want to, it’s totally doable to get a full-body workout using just these moves. Pretty crazy, right?

You can check out all the different types of push-ups, with links to demonstrate the form of each. Take some time to check them out, then put together a great workout to target the muscles you’re looking to define.

Not bad for a workout you can do in the comfort of your own home without any equipment! Imagine what your friends will say if you could show them how to get a bigger chest with push-ups.

If you decide to take on some of these variations, we’d love to hear about them in the comments. What you loved, what you didn’t, and what you think worked well to build your chest (and other muscles).

Chest Day Tips from Mr. Olympia Breon Ansley

Last year, one lucky OSL winner was able to spend the day working out his chest with Breon Ansley. The Mr. Olympia Classic Physique champ put him through a punishing workout.

Breon and Fan Working Out

Throughout the day, he dropped some nuggets of wisdom that we want to share to help you get a bigger chest. 

1. Use supersets and drop sets to help build up muscle endurance.

  • Supersets – move quickly from one exercise to the next with no rest in between
  • Drop sets – start out with the highest weight you can handle and complete reps until muscle failure is reached. Then, pick a lower weight and continue until muscle failure.

Typically, you’ll work through three sets, each set with a lower weight than the previous.

2. Don’t get too attached to a specific number of reps

You don’t want to put a number in your head. If you do, then your mindset might keep you from pushing further. If your muscles can handle it, keep going until they can’t.

Breon Ansley training fan

As you can see in the video, Breon pushed Frank’s muscles to the limit with each set.

3. Try the Seated High Cable Fly Workout

Have you been looking for a way to get a full chest? The seated high cable fly works to help “fill in” the chest to give you the definition you’re looking for.

4. Negative resistance training

This is also called hypertrophy training or eccentric phase training. This technique is where the spotter or trainer helps with the lift (concentric) motion.

Then, the lifter progresses slowly through the lowering (eccentric) phase, usually taking up to six seconds.

More Knowledge from Samir Bannout

At the end of the day, winner Frank Razzano met up with Golden Era bodybuilder Samir Bannout. Samir talked about the main drivers for success in bodybuilding and competitions: 

  • Not giving up once you’ve made the commitment
  • Working smarter, not harder
  • Keeping a positive mindset and focusing on your muscles to get through each workout

He also reminded Frank that you need to figure out what works best for you as an individual. Only through trial and error will you determine the best workout routine geared to meeting your goals.

Chest Day Tips from John Hansen

We’ve also got some tips for you from Mr. Natural Olympia & Old School Labs Ambassador, John Hansen. John took us through some chest exercises to show off the proper form.

John Hansen Posing
John Hansen, Old School Labs Ambassador

He showed us some targeted exercises that you can use to get your full chest workout.

Overall Chest Definition

Use the barbell bench press to work the entire chest in one move. According to ACE Fitness, the barbell bench press is the best for activating the chest muscles.

Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Bench Press With Wide Grip

According to John, you want to use a wider than a shoulder-width grip on the barbell. Also, keep your rib cage expanded while completing the exercise. This will bring the focus onto the chest rather than the shoulders.

Outer Pecs

If you need to get more definition in your outer pecs, dumbbell flyes are a great exercise.

Demonstrating Dumbbell Flyers

In the video, John demonstrates proper form, which mimics Golden Era bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. He brings his legs up and doesn’t let the dumbbells go below the bench level.

This way, all the tension stays on the pecs, where it belongs. 

Upper Chest

As we discussed before in the battle of incline vs flat bench, the incline allows for upper pec activation.

Incline Dumbbell Flyer

Here, John uses a 30 degree angled incline bench to perform incline dumbbell flyes. A wide arc helps maintain tension on the upper chest. To avoid breaking the tension, he doesn’t bring the dumbbells all the way up.

You can also include the incline barbell or dumbbell press as exercises that target the upper chest. Remember, you can lift heavier with the barbell and get better isolation at a lower weight with dumbbells.

Make sure to check out the video to see his form for each of these moves. With minimal equipment, you can get a bigger chest with symmetrical definition.

More Tips for Bigger Chest Success

Want some more tips? We’ve got more right here.

These are general tips that you can use on any muscle group in the gym:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself properly hydrated.
  • If you need help getting in the zone, listen to music to drown out gym noise and get you pumped.
  • Make sure you warm up before exercising and do some stretches to cool down afterward.
  • Don’t forget to fuel your body – too few calories and too many calories can both have negative effects on your muscle mass.
  • Have a positive mindset and push yourself.
  • Take your time. Your muscles will respond better if you do slow and steady reps rather than fast reps. You are working towards muscle failure, not to see who gets the most reps.
  • If you breeze through the reps, you need to add more weight. However, if you can barely get through the first five reps, you might want to lower the weight.
  • If you are new to weight lifting or trying out a new technique for the first time, get a spotter. Want to try supersets or drop sets, or really think negative resistance training might be worth trying? A spotter and/or trainer is essential to avoid injury or potentially passing out at the gym (or worse, at home!).
  • Remember, rest and recovery are ESSENTIAL, not optional!

Get a Bigger Chest With This Workout

Now that we’ve provided you some awesome tips on getting a bigger chest, are you ready for a workout plan?

We’ll put together two different workouts for you that should get you through at least the first week. Feel free to mix it up to suit your individual needs and goals. 

Shirtless Barbell Bench Press

We aren’t going to put a rep count on these so that you can work to muscle failure. Get at least six reps in as a minimum, to determine your maximum weight limit.

Try this out as a superset and use drop sets, if you are up to the challenge. Do a set of three for each exercise.

Bigger Chest Workout 1

  • Warm-up for five minutes – running, jumping jacks, planks, squats, whatever you want to do
  • Push-ups
  • Bar dips – try these weighted if you need more of a challenge
  • Barbell bench press – remember John’s tips above
  • Side push-ups
  • Dumbbell flyes
  • Seated high cable flyes – don’t forget about Breon’s tips above
  • Cooldown stretches

Bigger Chest Workout 2

  • Warm-up for five minutes
  • Wide push-ups
  • Cable crossovers
  • Elevated push-ups
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Bar dips
  • Pectoral stretch – stand with your hands on either side of your lower back. Push your chest out while you pull your shoulders back and push your hands into your lower back. Stretch for 30 seconds and do this at least twice.
  • Cooldown stretches

The Bottom Line

There isn’t a quick way to get a bigger chest. It takes time, dedication, and consistency in order to see real, sustainable results.

If you feel that your chest definition is lacking, then try out the exercises mentioned today. Don’t forget to eat right, get enough sleep, and allow plenty of time to recover between sessions.

Make sure you know the proper form and technique for each exercise before you perform them. Take your time and don’t rush through the reps, instead allow yourself to concentrate on each rep. 

These tips will help you work through your chest days to get the bigger chest you’re looking for. 

What are your favorite chest exercises to help you develop your chest muscles? Do you have a tried and true workout, or do you mix it up each time? Let us know what works (and what doesn’t) in the comments section.

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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