Your first pit stop after walking through those gym doors is where ‘men become boys,’ parting the crowd to claim your spot in the bench press line.
But the progress is somehow evading all logic.
You add 45 after 45, can bench 1.5x your body weight, and make steady progress every week. And, yet, your chest gains are stalling, and your pecs look … well … less than impressive.
A shirtless jog or beach day should be a point of pride, not shame!
Check out our aesthetic chest workout for bigger pecs that’ll turn at the gym, the beach, and everywhere in between.
Table of Contents
- Building a Chest… Workout
- Aesthetic Chest Workout Details
- How Do I Make An Aesthetic Chest?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Aesthetic Chest Workout Conclusion
Building a Chest… Workout
Our aesthetic chest workout has a few goals in mind. For one, as much as bragging about your bench press PR earns you some locker room respect, the physical gains don’t always match!
That’s why this workout drifts away from the classic bro split (well, ever so slightly).
It’s not just hundreds of bench reps or dozens of BP variations a week.
Before we jump in, here’s a rundown:
- Volume: Moderate; just enough to ensure thicker fibers, but without risking over-training or half-ass sets
- Reps: Slightly above, below, and within the ACSM’s hypertrophy guidelines; 8–12 being the ‘official’ middle-ground
- Sets: Between 2–3 per exercise; 20-ish total per week (well within reason with a goal of hypertrophy in mind)
- Rest: About 60 seconds between sets, ideal for muscle growth (2009 review); and, 48+ hours of recovery between chest workouts
- %1RM: Hovers somewhere between 70-90%, as long as you’re hitting the rep goals
- Frequency: Two or three times a week, which is the norm if you’re eyeing muscle-level growth (2016 research); true beginners, stick to twice
If you swap out your current chest workout with this one and let patience lead (we’re talking 8+ weeks), you should notice strength gains and more well-developed & rounded pecs.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Assuming you have a gym membership and dedication to beefing up your chest, the only equipment you need is:
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Version 2
Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Rapidly switch from one exercise to the next. You don't need multiple dumbbells cluttering up your home gym.
Later on, we’ll talk about exercise and equipment alternatives if you’re an at-home gym nut!
No matter how desperate you are for rounded and bulky pecs, the worst thing you can do is ditch the rest of your muscle-building routine to focus solely on your chest.
Your chest specialization schedule might look like this:
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Back
- Wednesday: Legs & Abs
- Thursday: Chest
- Friday: Back
- Saturday: Legs & Abs
- Sunday: x
Now, if something seems missing, that’s not an accident. While this is a chest-only exercise, we suggest closing out your upper-body workouts with arm exercises of your choice.
For example, after chest day, finish draining those triceps. And, post-back day, fill your biceps fix. It’s essentially a PPL (push, pull, legs) routine with a firmer upper body focus.
Aesthetic Chest Workout Details
This twice-per-week aesthetic chest workout will switch your pec gains to full throttle without wasted sets, excess volume, or over-training (and all the hell that comes with it).
A few notes:
Start with the warm-up before impulsively jumping into the workout. And, of course, don’t forget the cool-down at the end before calling it a day and warming up the blender for some protein.
Now, here’s the workout:
If you’re a washed-up high school athlete or even survived middle school PE class, pre-workout warm-ups are like second nature to you. (Okay, who am I kidding? You probably skip it too.)
However, the old mantra still rings true: “Never stretch a cold muscle.”
For this workout, we’re sticking with a classic dynamic warm-up:
- A light jog or walk on the treadmill or jumping rope (5 minutes)
- Push-ups (10 reps)
- Burpees (10 reps)
- Arm swings in front of your chest (20 reps)
- Arm circles (15 reps)
DEGOL Skipping Rope with Ball Bearings
This skipping rope runs smooth and fast thanks to quality-designed ball bearings and the rope is coated with PVC to avoid wear and tear through hundreds of workouts. Plus, the ergonomic handles feel very comfortable in your palms.
The whole warm-up will take <10 minutes. And, best of all, it’ll ramp up blood flow to your pecs, warm your muscles, improve flexibility and ROM mid-workout, and lessen the injury risk (2018).
No, don’t just bee-line it to the bench press!
- Bench Press – 3 sets x 4-6 reps (60 seconds)
- Incline Bench Press – 3 sets x 7-9 reps (60 seconds)
- High Cable Crossover – 3 sets x 10-12 reps (60 seconds)
- Weighted Chest Dip – 2 sets AMRAP* (60 seconds)
* AMRAP = As many reps as possible (or until failure)
Again, resist the urge to resort to the locker room, pack your gym bag, and jump ship. Leave yourself a few extra minutes to cool your upper body muscles down properly.
Try a few upper-body cool-down stretches like:
- Lateral side bends (30 seconds each side)
- Chest opener stretch in a doorway (30 seconds)
- Across-body shoulder stretch (30 seconds each side)
- Behind-the-back triceps stretch (30 seconds each side)
Now, stretching after lifting won’t make or break your gains on the spot. But it does gradually lower your blood pressure, lessen your risk of fainting, and reduce lactic acid build-up.
That tidbit, according to the American Heart Association.
Note: To race toward more flexible joints, muscles, and ROM, hold your stretches for 30+ seconds without bouncing or forcing them to the point of discomfort (1997 clinical trial).
There’s been an upward trend in home workouts, leading many dedicated gym-goers to cancel their memberships and deck out their garages with gear.
If you don’t have a bench, dumbbells, barbell, chest dip station, and a clunky cable machine on-hand, here are some alternatives for each exercise:
- Floor press
- Dumbbell bench press
- Resistance band chest press
Incline Bench Press
- Incline dumbbell bench press
- Incline dumbbell fly
High Cable Crossover
- Dumbell fly
- Resistance band chest fly
Weighted Chest Dip
- Band-assisted chest dips
- Ring dips
Fitness Dreamer Resistance Bands
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How Do I Make An Aesthetic Chest?
Building an aesthetic chest isn’t much different than sculpting a ripped back, tree trunk quads, or chiseled abs. And, by that, we mean anyone can do it if you do if they follow some instructions:
Don’t Forget the Incline Variations
When most guys picture chest day, they imagine a zillion bench press reps and variations. We’re talking about wide-grip, neutral-grip, dumbbell, decline, eccentric, the whole shebang.
But there’s more to pec work than the bench press — a lot more.
Incline chest exercises better target the clavicular head of your pectoralis major, not the sternal head like the flat bench.
With a 45°-ish bench incline, you’re inching closer to a shoulder press set-up (which is closer to 90). This was proven in a 2010 controlled trial, with full activation kicking in around 44-56°.
The slight angle forces your upper pecs into the frame, helping to buff up the area of the chest notorious for lagging and looking … deflated.
Get Your Protein (& Supplement) Intake Under Control
The approach here is three-fold:
- Calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), and add about 300–500 per day to help build lean mass
- Build a nutrition plan around 0.8/g of protein per pound of body weight to ensure maximal muscle growth (ACSM standards)
- Add 5-10g of creatine to your daily schedule, a supplement known for packing on muscle mass, improving strength by 8% more, boosting RT performance by 14%, and improving bench press 1RM by up to 45% in just a matter of months (2003 review)
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn Creatine
If you want more strength, muscle, and power, this supplement is 100 servings of pure creatine to speed up recovery and increase your gains in the gym. Mixes easily in any drink without any added ingredients.
It also helps to break through the common nutritional stigmas and myths that could be holding your progress hostage.
For example, fats and carbs aren’t inherently bad. In fact, fats support growth hormone production, and carbs fuel your workout performance.
And, it’s okay to sneak a cheat meal or a brew now and then without sacrificing eight consecutive weeks of progress. Ease into your diet, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
Hit Your Back Too (Yes, Really)
The last thing that comes to mind when shooting for an aesthetic chest is working on the polar opposite: your back muscles.
But if back day seems more like an afterthought, your chest gains might start to look silly (or put you at risk for serious, long-term health issues).
The issue here is muscle imbalance between the chest & back. Only emphasizing chest exercises will tighten your pecs, forcing your shoulders to change their natural position and “roll forward.”
The result? A noticeable, hunched posture.
Long-term, a chest-centric routine could lead to pain, joint problems, or shoulder issues.
Follow up your chest days with near-equal back days (at least volume-wise), featuring exercises like deadlifts, rows, lat pulldowns, and pullovers.
(This imbalance is so common that, in a 2013 study of healthy young adults, the chest muscles were 1.5-2.7x stronger than the paired back muscles.)
Good Form & Progressive Overload Matter
The body responds to excess stress by suffering damage and then recovering stronger and healthier. In the case of muscles, microtears develop and eventually rebuild over 48-ish hours.
But we often overlook two seemingly tiny — but truly major — concepts: good form and the principle of progressive overload.
By good form, we mean no cheat reps. Leaning into the cable crossover or using your legs to ‘push off’ during a bench can help you clinch a few extra reps at a mighty weight.
But if you can’t bench 100 lbs with perfect form now, then future milestones (like 125, 150, 175, and 200) will only be possible with subpar form. Not including the growing injury risk!
Next comes progressive overload.
Every time your body recovers from a training session, the pec muscles become stronger. If you’re doing dips, always stopping at 15 reps and never adding weight, progress will stall.
Always aim to either:
- Continue with the same weight as last workout, but add 1-2 reps, or
- Add 2.5-5 pounds from last workout
The key word here is “progress.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 3 Exercises Enough for Chest?
Three exercises are enough for chest growth, with between 2–5 being the “sweet spot” for most experienced lifters. Yet, weekly volume and total reps per workout matter more.
You can build more aesthetic pecs with a compound movement (bench press), isolation exercise (flyes), and a free weight exercise (incline bench).
But adding extra exercises doesn’t mean doubling your volume.
If you buy into the 10-20 sets per week mindset, as sugged in 2017 research, divide that by the number of chest exercises on your schedule (i.e., five exercises with 2–4 sets apiece).
Can You Do Chest 3 Times a Week?
You can do chest three times a week if your pec growth is stalling, you infuse near-equal back training (rows, pulldowns), and you leave 48–72 of rest between workouts (2019 research).
Leaving chest work to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is reasonable for most lifters.
But because heavy chest training can take a toll on your shoulders and recovery, hitting those stubborn chest muscles twice a week is a far safer option. As always, read your body.
Can I Do This Chest Workout Every Day?
You can — but shouldn’t — do this chest workout every day. 24 hours of recovery isn’t enough to return to 100% by your next workout, potentially impacting performance and growth.
Research from 2008 revealed that training one muscle group for 3+ consecutive days triggered an additional 3+ days of noticeable muscle weakness.
If you can’t record an extra rep or add a plate to the barbell, progressive overload (the secret to hypertrophy) loses its seemingly ‘magic’ touch.
Aesthetic Chest Workout Conclusion
Sculpting an aesthetic chest doesn’t have to require funky pec exercises, expensive supplements, or wacky routines. You just have to be committed enough to hold out for 8-12 weeks!
This routine is a great start for bulking up stubborn chest muscles. But don’t lose sight of the rest of your physique, which requires just as much TLC.
Work just as hard during back and leg day, and you’ll have a beach-ready physique in no time.
Ready to build an entire body that makes a visual impact? Then, check out this full body aesthetic workout routine!
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