Today I’m going to show you how to get a toned chiseled chest that will turn heads wherever you go.
But before we dive into the workouts, it’s important to understand the different functions of the chest muscle.
The chest is the centerpiece of your entire upper body. When you build a strong durable chest, it’s going to help develop other major muscle groups such as your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
The chest is also a muscle group that is most commonly performed wrong.
If you want to get a lean upper body, then you need to incorporate both mass building and sculpting exercises to your training routine.
Mass building workouts will build the thickness of your chest. This will consist of a variety of weighted press exercises and pushup variations. For maximum results, I suggest keeping your rep counts between 15-9 per set.
Once you build the mass of the muscle, you’ll perform a series of fly exercises to add toned definition to the chest. These “sculpting” exercises will involve light weight with much higher rep counts, ranging anywhere between 20-10 per set.
The 4 Main Areas Of The Chest
But before we dive into the actual workouts, let’s break down the four main areas of the chest:
- Upper chest
- Middle chest
- Inner chest
- Lower chest
If you aren’t activating each subsidiary muscle group, then it’s going to be virtually impossible for you to get a toned upper body. This is the number one mistake I see people making when training their chests.
Let me give you an example..
The standard bench press is a great way to build mass to the middle of the chest. But if you aren’t doing any other press exercises, you’re neglecting the upper, inner, and lower chest.
If you train a quarter of your muscle, then don’t be shocked when you only get a quarter of the results you want.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to activate the different areas of your chest. All you have to do is make slight adjustments to your hand placement and the angle of each exercise.
Mass Building Workouts
Here are the best weighted and bodyweight workouts that you can do to build the mass of each region of your chest.
The Upper Chest
Training the top portion of your chest will take your upper body to the next level. When done correctly, you’ll soon see definition below your deltoids and traps that you didn’t even think you had.
If you’re training at the gym, then look no further than the Incline Bench Press. This is by far the best way to build mass to the upper area of your chest.
Make sure to have the bar come in contact with the upper part of your chest on the negative part of each rep. For maximum results, position the bar so it’s a couple inches from your neck. This makes it a little bit harder, but I promise that you’ll notice the difference within the next few weeks.
But what if you don’t have an incline bench that costs thousands of dollars laying around in your house or apartment?
If that’s the case, then there’s no need to worry.
Rather than doing incline presses on the bench, you can do incline pushups with your couch. By standing on the couch with your legs straightened, it will modify the angle of the workout and isolate the upper part of your chest.
I demonstrate Incline Couch Presses at 3:58 of this video:
Keep your upper body completely horizontal with your hands roughly shoulder width apart. If you happen to have a pull-up bar handy in your house or apartment, then feel free to use it accordingly (I’ll cover this in more detail in a second). Either way, make sure that the highest point of your chest touches the floor/bar on each rep.
The Middle Chest
This is the area of the chest that most people are familiar with. If you want to get a toned chest that sticks out, then you have to train the middle of your chest consistently.
You target the middle chest whenever you perform a press exercise on the flat bench. Most people are familiar with the standard bench press. Although this is an effective way to build the mass of the chest, it actually limits the full range of motion.
What exactly do I mean here? Let’s take a look.
When you are doing any type of barbell bench press workout, the bar can only come down until it makes contact with your chest.
Now don’t get confused. The standard bench press is a great way to increase your strength levels and size.
But there’s an even better solution for this particular situation.
The dumbbells allow you to exaggerate the full range of motion below your chest. This may seem like a subtle movement, but a couple of inches can make all the difference with these press workouts.
When doing flat bench dumbbell presses, make sure that you keep your back flat on the bench at all times. If you feel like you need to arch your lower back up, then you’re using too much weight.
Remember the 3 components of building lean muscle in this specific order:
- Proper form
- Rep counts
Most people get this one completely backwards, which is why very few people have symmetrical muscle tone in their chest. Leave your ego at the door and focus on executing slow controlled movements on each rep you perform.
If you don’t have a gym membership, then standard pushups is one of the best ways to build thickness to the middle of your chest. Whenever you perform a pushup, your hand placement will dictate what area of the chest you’ll be targeting.
Positioning your hands roughly shoulder width apart will build the density of the middle chest. Doing pushups consistently will also help increase your strength levels for many other free weight workouts.
Here are some tips that you can use to get the biggest bang for your buck when doing pushups:
- Keep your body completely straightened
- Look ahead at all times
- Balance all your weight on your toes
- Come down until your chest makes contact with the floor
And there’s one more “ninja trick” that you can use when doing pushups…
You actually want to keep a slight bend in your elbow at the peak point of each rep.
When you lock your arms, it alleviates the tension that is placed on your chest. If you want to get a chiseled upper body, then it’s important to keep your chest activated throughout each set.
The Inner Chest
This is definitely the area of the chest that gets neglected the most often. When you train the inner portion of the chest, you’ll develop toned definition between each of your pectoral muscles. This is a look that most people desire, but few people have.
If you want to use weights to build the inner chest, then I suggest doing Closed Grip Smith Machine presses.
Why the machine, you might ask?
It’s simple. Establishing a closed grip will target your inner chest and triceps muscles. But the closer your hands become, the more stress it will put on your wrists and forearms.
The Smith Machine will allow you to get the most out of your reps without subjecting yourself to potential injury.
One more thing…
Whenever you can hit multiple muscle groups with one exercise, then DO IT.
If you want to sculpt your inner chest and triceps, then bring the bar down to where your upper abs and lower chest meet. This variation is certainly harder, and you should feel the burn within the first couple of reps.
If you’re doing bodyweight workouts, then there’s no need to complicate things. Instead of doing Closed Grip Bench Presses, you can incorporate Closed Grip Pushups into your training routine.
This is definitely one of the harder pushup variations that you can do.
Most of the same principles apply to this exercise. You’ll want to keep your body horizontal, look ahead at all times, and come down until your chest makes contact with the floor on each rep.
The only difference is that you’ll want to actually lean your upper body forward at the beginning of each set. When you come down, you want the upper portion of your abdominals to be level with your hands.
At the peak point of each rep, make sure and straighten your arms until they are completely locked. This movement will activate both the triceps and inner region of the chest. Pause and contract your arms when you reach this point and then slowly continue to repeat this motion.
The Lower Chest
Training this muscle group will make your chest pop out from your upper abdominals. Like many of the exercises I’ve shared with you so far, getting a toned lower chest is all about proper form. Don’t worry about how much weight you can lift or the volume of reps you can perform. As you continue to progress, you’ll inevitably increase your strength and numbers.
In my opinion, the best free weight exercise to build toned definition to the lower chest is Decline Bench Presses. By modifying the angle of the bench to a decline level, it will isolate the lower portion of the chest.
Keep your hands shoulder width apart and make sure the bar comes in contact with your lower chest on each rep. Just a fair warning my friend…
The decline bench is typically a bit tougher than the flat bench. You probably won’t be able to lift as much and your balance might feel altered. If this is the case, then you might want to resort to using a spotter or the Smith Machine.
When it comes to finding a bodyweight workout for the lower chest, I was stumped for a while.
But just recently, I came up with a good alternative that you can use to sculpt your chest. This is an exercise that I like to call “Reverse Grip Pull-Up Bar Pushups.”
By using a reverse grip on the pull-up bar, you’re able to target the lower portion of your chest by doing pushups. Check it out at 1:37 of this video:
Place the pull-up bar on the floor and grip it with your palms facing upwards. Lean your upper body forward so the lower part of your chest makes contact with the pull-up bar on each rep. For maximum results, try and keep your rep counts between 10-25 per set.
So whether you train at the gym or at home, you now know how to build the mass of all four areas of your chest. But getting a “massive” chest is not the same as getting a toned chiseled chest.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look like a bodybuilder. If that’s your goal, then you probably shouldn’t read any further.
But if you want to get a chiseled chest, then you’ll need to start adding toned definition by doing some light weight fly exercises. This will make your chest look wide and sculpted, rather than round and puffy.
These are the best exercises to sculpt each region of the chest. I’ll be using dumbbells and the cable machine for these variations. If for any reason you don’t have access to a gym, then simply substitute water jugs for the dumbbells.
When filled, the water jugs weigh 8 pounds. That’s more than enough to add lean definition to all four areas of the chest.
Here are some tips that you can use when performing any type of fly exercise for your chest muscle.
- Always maintain a bend in your elbow
- Perform each rep as if you were doing a “reverse hugging” motion
- Keep your back flat on the bench at all times
- Maximize the full range of motion on each rep
Remember that these are sculpting exercises, so you’ll want to use much lighter weight for higher reps. For maximum results, keep your rep counts within the 12-20 range for each set.
The best way to add definition to the upper chest is by doing incline flies. If for any reason you don’t have access to an incline bench, you can use a couch to simulate the same angle.
Dumbbell mid flies will sculpt both the middle and outside regions of the chest. For this particular variation, you’re going to use the flat bench. If you’re training at home, then you can simply use the water jugs and lay down flat on the floor. Perform each rep as slowly as possible and bring the dumbbells down as far as you can on each rep.
Standing dumbbell flies is my favorite way to sculpt the lower portion of the chest. Begin each rep with a staggered stance and always maintain a slight bend in your elbows. Raise your arms at an inward angle so the dumbbell/water jugs make contact. At the peak point of each rep, the weight should be roughly level with your chin.
Decline flies will give you toned definition between your chest and upper abdominals. This exercise does require an element of balance, so make sure you perform each rep as slowly as possible.
Whether you train at the gym or at home, you now understand how to get a chest. Don’t be one of these meatheads that live and die by the bench press. Now don’t get me wrong, the bench press is a great exercise to build the middle of your chest.
But if you neglect 25% of the muscle, then you’ll also be neglecting 25% of your results.
Transforming your body requires desire, work ethic, and persistence. But make no mistake about it my friend…
You must also have a proven workout and nutrition plan that are conducive to your fitness goals.
Train hard, but also train smart.
Each set you perform is an opportunity to blast through your comfort zone.
You should only end your set when you begin to feel the pain. This is your body’s way of telling you that growth is around the corner.
Until next time,