fat loss
weight loss health information build muscle


No progress?
Click here

Get 6-Pack Abs

Free info

Fat loss
Weight loss

About us

Contact us


Build an Impressive Chest

I wear a 44 coat and have a 31 inch waist. This is nothing compared to Arnold or other big bodybuilders, but does provide for a nice appearance and plenty of strength.

All of these photos were taken just after my 50th birthday.

A solid, muscular chest gives a man a powerful look, if it's coupled with a matching physique.

It's also important for a woman. A solid, muscular chest gives a woman the foundation for whatever natural assets she has to look their best (and it is much safer than having foreign, bound-to-leak bags of silicone surgically implanted).

Many people immediately think of the bench press as the way to build their chest, and they are thinking along the right lines. However, it's only part of what you need to do and it must be done right to be effective.

The typical gym rat does the bench press all wrong, adds extra body fat, and (if a guy) considers his man boobs to be "pecs."

You can tell the difference by looking at where the bulk is. What you see in these photos are pecs on a guy with 5% body fat. It doesn't come from genes. It comes from knowing what to do, then doing it.

So, you also can have an impressive chest. And I will tell you how I do it. Mine isn't the only way, but it works. Some of what I will tell you isn't from my personal preference or particular methods, but is instead from the body of knowledge (no pun intended) in the bodybuilding world.

When I say "bodybuilding," I want you to think of Hollywood stars who pay a trainer some fairly big bucks to help them have the kinds of looks you see on the screen.

Something you'll notice here is overall conditioning. This isn't something you do in one workout session (e.g., full body circuit training). It's something you do by intensely working a different muscle group on each training day (I train six days a week, and no training session lasts very long).

Here are the most common mistakes:

  • Pansy routines.
  • Weight bouncing.
  • Bad form (using front delts)
  • High-rep sets.

For my chest workout, I do only two exercises. The key is I do them at high levels of intensity.

The are the bench press and the flye.

Because this kind of workout is grueling, the only way it produces results is with several days of recovery time. You cannot do this 3 times a week as part of a circuit training regimen. You cannot do this every other day, either.

To allow enough time for recovery (and thus growth), you need several days between working out a particular muscle group. Unless, of course, you do pansy workouts.

You need adequate rest. Some people argue that you can't actually rest a given muscle group because you're going to use it when working another muscle group. This argument fails, because it ignores intensity.

I supplement appropriately, get adequate sleep, and maintain a healthy diet. These three practices are foundational to building a great body, yet few people put much thought or discipline into them. With a little attention to this area, you can really put your program on the fast track.

So, how do you build your chest? I'll get to chest-specific items in just a bit, but they don't work unless you master what I'm about to tell you.

Remember I said you cannot do this 3 times a week as part of a circuit training regimen? Instead, you do this as part of a split routine program. There is no single right way.

There are a few ways that are generally accepted by serious athletes.  Here's mine:

  • Workout one. Back and biceps.
  • Workout two. Chest and triceps.
  • Workout three. Shoulders.

I do these workouts on a rotating basis on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Three workouts and four days means the pattern changes each week.

More photos at end of article.


In addition to this rotating pattern of upper body workouts, I do these:

  • On Mondays, I do front squats. I try to do these every week, and that's possible only because of supplementation with glutamine. Even so, there are occasionally Mondays where I skip this workout due to recovery concerns. Done properly, front squats work the core and are a fantastic ab exercise.
  • On Fridays, I do hanging leg raises followed by calf raises.

In these photos, I was at 5% body fat and am still there about 5 weeks later as I write this. In fact, I have been at 5% body fat for about eight months now. I'll probably stay that lean well into the future.

One reason I can be that lean is the way I have these workouts scheduled. This kind of scheduling plays off the cortisol/testosterone responses the body goes through when subjected to the kind of stress that an intense workout puts on it.

Of course, eating six small meals a day and paying attention to what's in those meals is another factor that allows a 50 year old person to be at 5% body fat. It isn't genes, trust me. If I can do it, anyone else can do it.

Chest specifics

As I noted previously, I do only two exercises. I am not saying all other exercises are pointless. I am saying this works for me. It might not always work for me, and if it stops working for me I will change it. What's important to understand is you do not gain a thing by doing all kinds of exercises for a given workout. In fact, you lose intensity that way so you lose the results too. So pick a couple of good exercises, and do them with all your heart.

Women tend to do a pretty good job of maintaining form when doing the bench press, but nearly all men utterly fail. Why is this, and what are they doing wrong?

For some reason, most men actually care what other people think about how much weight they can lift when benching and thus they cheat the exercise to lift more. This is a misguided, counterproductive concern. Forget about everyone else. It is YOUR chest you're working. Focus on actually working your chest.

I'm going to tell you how to do the bench press in proper form. Before you attempt this, reduce whatever you are benching now by 75%. Yes, I am serious. I've seen guys who "work out" with 225 (by cheating), yet are unable to bench 100 lbs in correct form. They have weak chests. They have strong front delts. They have high risk of back injury.

Oh, and so I don't get bombarded with e-mails asking this question. I have benched 1.5 times my body weight, in proper form, for eight straight reps. But I don't work out with that weight. I use less weight (about 1.2 times my body weight) and focus on working the muscle instead of lifting weight. I don't know what my max bench press is and I don't care to find out. It just does not matter.

Proper form for the bench press:

  • Pull your shoulder blades almost together, squeezing hard. Then press your back to the bench. Please note that in a random sampling of 100 gym goers, it is unlikely you will find one man who can do this. To correct the tendon deformations caused by bad posture when not training and shoulder pronation during training, have an assistant push very hard to hold those shoulders down. It will probably hurt. A lot. Deal with it.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and your legs flat on the bench. If you raise your thighs up, you are cheating.
  • Don't rotate your shoulders when lifting the weight.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Now, exhale slowly and lift the weight off the rack. Lift it all the way up. You are almost ready for your first rep.
  • Take a deep breath and slowly exhale while lowering the weight. Aim for a 4 second time on this. If you get 2 seconds, you'll think it's four so really try to do this.
  • Just touch the weight to your chest or bring it as low as you can go without rotating your shoulders.
  • Raise the weight all the way up (1 to 2 seconds), letting out your remaining breath.
  • Repeat everything from the deep breath part on, for a maximum of 5 times. If you are doing more the 5 reps in any set, you aren't doing something right. Go more slowly, and your reps will drop.

I typically do a total of 25 to 30 reps. All in low rep sets.

Proper form for the flye:

  • Shoulders back, same as for the bench press.
  • Same breathing thing.
  • Start by bringing the weights together overhead. Keep your arms straight.
  • Lower the weight slowly.
  • Same thing with reps and sets.

Stacking the workout for maximum effect:

I do the above in the morning. I come back in the afternoon and repeat a shorter version of it.

  • I do one set of bench presses, maybe 3 reps. I try for 8 to 10 seconds in lowering the weight. I don't care how fast I raise it. Sometimes, I skip this extra bench pressing entirely.
  • I do slow lowering and slow raising of the dumbbells. How slow? I think I'm hitting 20 seconds most of the time. This exercise is so difficult and there is so much muscle tension, that I don't actually keep track of the time. I just focus on very, very slowly letting that weight down. It hurts. A lot. Then I raise it up slowly and repeat. I can usually do a max of 3 reps. I might do 4 sets. It doesn't sound like much, but it's quite brutal.

People have remarked, "I can tell you do a lot of cardio, because you're so lean." Wrong. I don't do cardio. The exercise I just described with flyes puts such an enormous load on the body that my heart feels like it's going to come out and I can hardly catch my breath. Now, understand that when I do the spirometer I very quickly put the needle off the chart and hold it there. So, it's not like I don't have lung capacity. Do this exercise and you'll understand my point here.

This article touches on the key aspects of building a powerful chest that makes you look powerful. Many people will focus on some minor detail or another, but not properly assemble the big pieces. Now you have a good idea of how the big pieces go together. In our other articles, you'll find the details of exercises and diet. Before you implement those details, put together your total fitness plan based on what you've just read.

More chest shots, below. See if you can find what's a little different about each one.

Photographer: Aaron Lindberg,





Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

Supplecity is a subsidiary of When you follow the links from this site to the purchase area, you will go to Mindconnection's secure server.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please view the aboutus pages, or write to mark @ We do want your business.