Becoming the “best” at anything is tricky. Choose any sport, business venture, or other activity, and the “best” can often be very hard to define. Is the “best” basketball player a center who can dunk over everyone, or a shooting guard who never seems to miss? Is the “best” businessman the one who runs a Fortune 500 company, or the one who makes a greater fortune from his home-based business? In life, defining the “best” at anything is often subject to a wide variety of criteria on a level that is very subjective, thus making the greatest at anything very difficult to ascertain.
For the purposes of defining the “best” chest workout, things can be equally tricky. Is the best workout the one that builds up the most strength? In that case, a powerlifting training routine with a big pile of 5x5 sets might suffice. On the other hand, maybe the “best” chest workout is one that leaves your chest the most ripped. Would that mean 20 sets of 20 reps on the Cable Curls would do the trick? Or perhaps you just want to build muscle, in which case lots of presses and flyes would do it, without all of the polish.
Perhaps the “best” way to define the “best” chest workout is to choose or create one which is the most complete. What kind of workout would that be? Likely, it would be the training protocol which adds the most amount of new strength, coupled with size gains and increased vascularity. It would be a creative masterpiece of pure brute strength and graceful muscle isolation. And you would have to design it yourself, so that you’d enjoy it and stick with it. Let’s look at a variety of factors you should consider when planning your most complete, or “best” chest training workout!
The exercises you choose are going to go a long way to allowing you to isolate and target every possible muscle fiber in your pectorals. It’s likely that you, like most lifters, are a creature of habit. You are happy to knock out the same bench presses and flyes most workouts, with the usual machine work tossed in. Now is the time to change that! Explore the wide variety of benches and machines that your gym has to offer. Toss in movements like dips, crossovers, and dumbbell pullovers if you aren’t using them already.
Higher volume chest training is likely required if you wish to achieve activation and pump of every possible muscle fiber in your pectorals. No more 8-set workouts. Look for your exercises to range from 12 to 20 sets or more, and include sets of all repetition ranges in order to stimulate fast and slow twitch muscle fibers alike. You’ll be training longer than you are used to training, and higher volume will require a greater amount of recovery as well.
One huge (and often overlooked) part of chest training involves angles. Most of us start in a home garage and lack the access to incline, decline, and other angles approaches to pressing and crossing over. These exercises aren’t imperative for building mass, but they sure to help when you’re ready to build a complete chest, from every angle. Look at the 80, 45, 15, 30, and other degrees of angles when training. You’ll feel the difference as different parts of your muscle fibers will be called into action with each set.
If you train at a commercial gym, then you already have the world at your fingertips when it comes to access to a wide variety of training equipment. You can jump from a heavy duty cage to an Olympic Bench to dumbbells ranging from 2.5 to 100 pounds or more. Your custom designed “most complete” workout should involve just about every exercise you can hit, at one time or another. A gym that is wide open, and not too crowded, will help with this. Choose a training environment that is right for your style as well. If you like to wear bandanas and throw around heavy weights, then Planet Fitness might be proud to not be your best choice. Getting comfortable is half the battle in making sure you return each time to train.
The greatest chest workout perpetually will be the one which keeps yielding results. Therefore you will want to find way to create added intensity for your workout, at an attempt to see new results on a continual basis. Supersets involve completing 2 or more chest exercises in a row. Pre-exhaust involves using an isolation movement (such as dumbbell flyes) followed up with a compound movement (such as incline bench press) to force the chest to do more work. Experiment and document your results.
Balance, consistency, and a continuous analysis of your training will allow.