Are you looking to get a ripped chest? If so, we’ve got you covered with tested and true techniques and workouts that work. Ready to start? In that case, read on.
The focal point of any impressive physique is on one prominent point, the chest. Having a ripped chest is key to bringing anybody up a notch. Aimless training won’t get you any closer to a more ripped chest. You need to attack the chest with a strategy. There are many different ways to attack and develop your chest so rotate many different workouts like the lower chest workout. Here are the most effective strategies to get a ripped chest.
Stretch Your Chest
Stretching isn’t the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of improving their chest. But, it has a lot of benefits that are often overlooked.
Right now you’re most likely leaning down with your shoulders rolled forward. It’s the position most of us take anytime we’re seated, whether it’s at the dinner table, at desks or in the car. Even if you just perked up and are constantly aware of your posture, your chest will undeniably be put in a bad position. That means your chest looks smaller and narrower just because you sit all day and don’t stretch your chest. When this happens your chest gets tight and that’s a huge problem.
A tight chest means your mobility is limited and often comes with an intense bench workout. With limited mobility, your chest will be unable to lengthen properly meaning your chest can’t contract as forcefully. Less effective contractions means less damage to the muscle tissue and less opportunity to recover and grow back bigger and stronger. It will also limit your overall force production on any pressing exercises.
Having a tight chest is a huge liability for injury. If the chest can’t move in its natural pattern, then something else in the body has to make up for it. For example, rotator cuff muscles have to work harder; if they work too hard, they could tear and the least of your worries for four months will be your chest. A couple of the best chest stretches are shoulder dislocations using a light band and the wall stretch.
This Is Pre-Fatigue Training
Pre-fatigue training is a technique made popular by the one and only “Austrian Oak,” Arnold. This technique is particularly helpful for those who have trouble feeling their chest work during presses. It’s also great for people that are arm dominant or have very strong triceps. It’s an awesome chest tricep workout you will want to learn.
The technique can be applied two different ways, but either way, it involves doing a chest isolation exercise prior to moving on to compound exercises. For example, starting your chest workout with dumbbell flyes, then moving to bench press instead of finishing off your workouts with isolation exercises.
The first version of pre-fatigue is to use a pre-fatigue superset. This version is best for those triceps dominant pressers. This is because doing chest isolation exercises right before the press ensures your chest is, you guessed it, pre-fatigued. This forces your chest to hit failure before the triceps for maximal chest stimulation. This is what your first two exercises in your workout will look like when using this technique:
Superset Pre-Fatigue Method:
1a. Dumbbell Chest Flye 3×12
1b. Dumbbell Chest Press 3×10
On the other hand, it can be done in a linear fashion completing all sets of the isolation exercise then moving on to the compound presses. This version won’t feel as taxing as the superset technique, but it’s equally as effective. It works particularly well for those that don’t feel their chest working.
The isolation exercises activate the chest so the nervous system can more effectively contract the chest. Since there’s more rest built into this method, you’ll subsequently be able to lift more on the compound exercises. This is what the start of your best chest workout could look like using this method:
Linear Pre-Fatigue Method:
Cable Crossover Flye 3×15
Bench Press 3×8
This Is The Post Fatigue Method
If something is good why not try the opposite?
The post-fatigue method is tried and true. It works by performing isolation exercises after compound movements. The structure is quite literally the opposite of the pre-fatigue method. It can be done in a superset fashion or linear.
The rationale is that by finishing off with an isolation exercise, you’re shredding any last muscle fibers you didn’t hit on your presses. You are guaranteed to feel an immense burn and likely have your ego shattered when you see how light the weights you’ll be using to hit the rep targets. The pump and ripped chest will be well worth it, though. Here are two examples of what the post-fatigue method can look like:
Post Fatigue Linear Method:
Incline Bench Press 3×6
Incline Dumbbell Flye 3×12
Hammer Strength Chest Press 3×12
Post Fatigue Superset Method:
1a. Incline Bench Press 3×8
1b. Incline Dumbbell Flye 3×12
- Hammer Strength Chest Press to failure
Take Your Time With Tempo And Tension Training
You know it feels good to lift heavy and hard. You’ll lift more weight and build explosiveness doing that.
While this can be a decent method to build power and work your chest, it’s better to take it slow, just like a first date. When you hear slow just think about growing. Time under tension training is the most proven method to building muscle. Lucky for you, it’s also great for building definition and getting a vascular pump.
So just how slow do you need to take your Monday chest day date?
The slower you go, the better. Chances are you won’t be able to hit your targets the first go around. Yes, it’s that slow. The optimal time to aim for is 45 to 60 seconds. On the surface, it doesn’t sound like much. But, when you restrict the tempo of each repetition and also set a specific rep range it’s a killer. The high time under tension ensures you get after both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers for a truly complete set.
Here’s how you do it. First, pick a compound chest exercise like machine press, push-up or bench press.
Select a weight you can normally do 15 moderate paced reps with. Using this same weight, aim to make your set last at least 45 seconds. Keep the reps slow, never speeding up past two seconds on the eccentric (lowering portion) or concentric (lifting portion) portions. You’ll also want to limit the rest between sets to 60 to 90 seconds for maximal hypertrophy. Here’s an example:
Neutral Grip Bench Press 3×12 (2/0/2 tempo)
This creates a total time under tension of 48 seconds. That’s just barely long enough to qualify.
Want to take it that Gym Junkies step further?
Increase the eccentric portion to three to four seconds.
The eccentric portion is increased for two reasons. One reason is that the body is stronger in the lowering phase of lifts so you’ll handle more weight. The second reason is that the eccentric portion of lifts causes the most microtrauma to muscle tissue. This increases the growth potential.
Work Your Angles And Weak Points
Pounding the chest with presses is a great strategy for initial bulking. However, when the time comes that you want to have a symmetrical, proportional and attractive chest, it’s not going to be enough. The answer is simple. Attack your weak points and forgotten chest angles. Here are a few strategies to implement in your training to bring your chest up to par.
The chest should be equally proportioned on all edges, both inner and outer. If you have trouble finding the line down your chest, you need to listen up. The quickest way to target the inner chest is by doing chest flyes that focus on the top of the contraction where your hands are brought together. This might even mean not going all the way down on cable flyes to save energy.
Cable crossovers where the hands actually go past your midline is a smart place to start. The dumbbell squeeze press, which involves taking a neutral grip and keeping the dumbbells touching in a parallel pattern while pressing, is another great option.
The outer line of the chest truly can make a physique pop. It gives a wide broad look that can be seen from the side or front. To get going on the outer chest, use chest flyes and focus on the lower range of motion. Again, this may mean not using a full range of motion by never allowing the dumbbells to come close to touching.
The serratus or the muscle that runs along your ribs up to your chest never gets enough love. The serratus anterior is a true distinguisher between a mediocre or nice chest and a head turning ripped chest. Performing dumbbell or cable pullovers are two of the best exercises to target the serratus.
Keep Balance In The Program
With so much focus placed on your chest, other non-mirror body parts can easily be forgotten. In particular, the back can be left behind. As you blast your chest, don’t neglect to keep your back training volume at least twice that of your chest and shoulder training.
It can lead to imbalances that cause shoulder pain, poor posture, and a weaker chest. Just like stretching, training your back is crucial to posture. If all it took were a little chest stretch and a bit more back training to broaden your chest, wouldn’t you do it?
Another rule of thumb to keep in mind is the type of back exercises you choose to balance out your chest training. Make sure to choose more horizontal pulling exercises, like barbell or cable rows, over vertical pulling exercises, like pull-ups or pulldowns.
How To Get A Ripped Chest With These Sample Chest Workouts
You’ve got the techniques ready to hit the chest hard. Here are two button-popping workouts to get you started:
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Starter Chest Workout
Dumbbell Chest Press 4×12/10/8/6
Barbell Incline Bench Press 3×10-12
Machine Chest Press 3×15
Cable Flye 3×15
Advanced Chest Workout 1:
Cable Flye 3×15
Dumbbell Chest Press 3×10
Incline Dumbbell Flye 3×12
Cable Chest Press 3×15
Dumbbell Pullover 3×12
Advanced Chest Workout 2:
1a. Barbell Bench Press 3×8
1b. Dumbbell Flye 3×12
- Dumbbell Chest Press 3×12 (Use 2/0/2 slow tempo)
- Alternating Incline Dumbbell Press 3×12 (Each)
- Cable Crossover 3×15
5a. Incline Push-up 3xFailure
5b. Cable Pullover 3×12
Putting On The Finishing Touches
The workout is set.
The calendar is marked.
What about your kitchen?
Your chest needs sufficient calories and protein to recover and grow. In order to have productive workouts, it’s also recommended to have a small pre-workout meal with carbs and protein. This will spare muscle during the workout and give you energy to train hard.
One of the most overlooked factors in getting a ripped chest is body fat. Most men will naturally carry a little fat on their chest and it’s one of the first places men lose fat. Obviously, this is not at all the case for women. This is all due to the differences in natural hormone levels.
To show off the best chest possible, you won’t just want to rely on your body’s tendency to store fat in other places. To get the lines or striations across the chest, you’ll need fairly low body fat levels. That means less than 10% for men. While you eat up to bulk and build your chest, just don’t overdo it and cover your chest with a layer of fat.
There are plenty of techniques to up your chest training game. It’s certainly tempting to use them all at once. In reality, it’ll leave you moaning at night as you roll over sore as can be.
If the starter chest workout looks similar to something you’ve done, try following an advanced workout and keep it as it is. There’s always opportunity to further challenge yourself down the road. Write down your next workout, get in a light chest stretch and prepare for the best chest workout of your life!
By Raphael Konforti, MS CPT
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